Reno High School

As soon as World War II ended and building materials became more plentiful again, it became clear that Reno’s schools were in need of updating and certainly expansion. In 1945, the Reno School District had originally planned to remodel the existing high school on West Street, but instead the Board of Trustees voted to engage the architect Lehman Ferris to draw plans for a new high school. Lehman, known as Monk, was the son of George Ferris, the architect who had created the four Reno elementary schools known as the Four Spanish Sisters between 1909 and 1912. Fortuitous for both Ferris and Reno, a young architect from New York named Graham Erskine had come to Reno for a divorce in 1946 and had signed on to work with Ferris while he waited out his six-week residency period. Erskine, who had a degree from Columbia College and had studied architecture in Rome, was put to work on the designs for the high school. After his divorce was final, Erskine decided to remain in Reno and partner with Ferris.

For the new school built in the early 1950's, the district purchased a 51-acre site near Idlewild Park and Reno’s first tract-housing development, Westfield Village. Construction started in 1949 and took two years to complete, opening for the fall semester of 1951. The school, which cost more than $3 million, was modern in every respect. Encompassing 216,000 square feet over five acres, the long, low building was fire proof and seismically sound, built of structural steel, brick, and glass. The layout allowed for future expansion and provided spaces for community use.

Also modern in terms of meeting the needs of students, classrooms for vocational programs were fitted out with the latest in technical and homemaking equipment. At the time, the school district recognized that 80 percent of the high school’s student body had no plans to attend college and by stressing vocational education students were ensured an adequate cultural background to enable them to understand and perform the duties of citizenship and adequate skills to earn a living. Reno High School also offered the highest level of academic courses, and provided up-to-date gymnasium and sports facilities. The new Reno High School graduated its first class in 1952.

Reno High School is still in use today, although it has been joined by seven traditional high schools and several alternative or charter schools serving high school-age students.


Architect's photos of the new Reno High School
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395 Booth Street, Reno, NV