Filed Under Education

Veterans Memorial School

The 1949 elementary school was named to honor former Reno students killed in World War II.

Opened in 1949, Veterans Memorial School was one of the first schools constructed in the state after World War II, and was named to honor former Reno students who were killed during that conflict. Its construction came in direct response to Reno’s growth; the city’s population increased by 50 percent after the war and many schools were experiencing overcrowding and double sessions.

The original 1946 plans for Veterans Memorial School, prepared by the architect Perry Means, called for seven classrooms to serve 350 students. By 1947, the final set of plans, drawn by Russell Mills, showed an Art Moderne-style physical plant with eleven classrooms serving more than 400 students. The total construction cost was $360,399.45.

Upon its completion, Veterans Memorial School was the most technologically advanced facility in the school district, incorporating design features intended to enhance the educational experience by utilizing the latest building technology. A newspaper article announcing the school’s opening declared: "The Little Red Schoolhouse Was Never Like This One." Included were innovative features such as the scaling of furniture to the age and size of the students, the use of blond furniture, which was believed to be comforting to children's eyes, classroom lighting provided by windows at a height of six feet, with glass brick above to diffuse direct sunlight, and warm paint colors in north-facing rooms and cool colors in those facing south.

An efficient, modern kitchen offered hot lunches in the auditorium, which also functioned as the cafeteria and the gymnasium. The central library was the first at a Reno grade school, and each classroom was connected to a central telephone and radio system. But perhaps the greatest innovation was the installation of television outlets in each classroom several years before Reno had a television station.

Veterans Memorial School was a benchmark for education in post-war Reno. In the decade following its construction, 22 schools were built in Reno, all drawing on the standards it had set. As a testimony to its modernity and its value to the community, Veterans Memorial School has been in continuous use as a school since its opening in 1949. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.


Veterans Memorial School, 1949
Veterans Memorial School, 1949 The school soon after its construction. Source: Mella Harmon Date: 1949
A Living Tribute
A Living Tribute Veterans Memorial School was officially dedicated on September 11, 1949 "to Nevada's youth as a living tribute to those brave men and women who fought--that our country's ideals of freedom through knowledge might endure." Source: Reno Evening Gazette Date: September 10, 1949
A contemporary view of Veterans Memorial School
A contemporary view of Veterans Memorial School The front facade of Veterans Memorial School in 2014. Creator: Mella Rothwell Harmon Date: 2014
Veterans Memorial School, 2014
Veterans Memorial School, 2014 A side view of Veterans Memorial School. Creator: Mella Rothwell Harmon Date: 2014
Architectural detail, 2014
Architectural detail, 2014 The Art Moderne style at the entry of Veterans Memorial School is characterized by distinctive curved rows of glass block. Creator: Mella Rothwell Harmon Date: 2014
Decorative use of metal, 2014
Decorative use of metal, 2014 Detail of Art Moderne decorative metal at Veterans Memorial School. Creator: Mella Rothwell Harmon Date: 2014


1200 Locust Street, Reno, NV


Mella Rothwell Harmon, “Veterans Memorial School,” Reno Historical, accessed June 17, 2024,