St. Thomas Aquinas School

The parochial grade school at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church was built in 1931, the year Reno was designated its own Diocese and the church was upgraded to a Cathedral. The school and a possible new parish house had been under consideration in late 1930. For the school, the architect Frederic DeLongchamps designed a rectangular brick-and-terra-cotta structure to be erected at the rear of the church, facing Arlington Avenue. The school encompassed eight classrooms on two floors, a basement, and a playroom. The red brick parish house, also designed by DeLongchamps, was placed to the west of the church where an existing parish house stood. The Reno construction firm of J. C. Dillard began work on both buildings in February 1931 at a combined cost of $78,000.

The cornerstone for the school was placed on Sunday, April 26, 1931 in the presence of a large number of visiting clergy and a confirmation class of more than 80 children. A metal box containing church records, a history of the school, and other documents was enclosed in the cornerstone.

The school was complete and ready for the fall 1931 school year. It was formally dedicated on Sunday, October 11, 1931, by Reno’s newly installed Bishop Gorman. Many dignitaries were present, including Reno Superintendent of Schools B. D. Billinghurst, and the students marched in procession from the school yard to the entrance.

St. Thomas Aquinas School served Reno’s Catholic community for many years, but as the community grew and spread into the suburbs, so did the need for parochial education outside of the downtown core. The school closed at the end of the school year in 1969, due to "decreasing school enrollment, poor location and a national shortage of sisters to act as teachers" according to the Nevada State Journal. The building has hosted several organizations after that. The Reno Diocese offers Catholic education at five schools in Reno, including Bishop Manogue High School, Little Flower School, Our Lady of the Snows School, St. Albert the Great School, and the Holy Child Early Learning Center. Today the St. Thomas Aquinas School building serves as a school once again -- the Honors Academy of Literature, a public charter school established in 2012.



195 North Arlington Ave, Reno, NV