The Thompson Building was built in 1920 to house the University's teacher training program. A two-story, brick building with a classically-inspired facade, this Georgian-style building was designed by Reno architect Frederic DeLongchamps following the stylistic guidelines of Mackay's campus plan, with input from the new dean of education and a consulting specialist in school architecture. In 1959, the building was named to honor Dr. Reuben C. Thompson, a well-known lecturer who taught at the University from 1908 to 1948 and founded the Department of Philosophy.
The Thompson Building has played a key role in the education of Nevada's educators. The construction of the building in 1919-20 coincided with the establishment of a College of Education at the University, with its own dean, its own building, and a status equal to that of the other colleges on campus. The training of teachers had previously been handled by county normal schools throughout the state, as well as various colleges at the University.
When the Secretary of the Interior's Bureau of Education had reviewed university education in Nevada, one of the few criticisms made was of the dispersed system of teacher education. Growth in state population and the consequent need for more high schools and more teachers made it obvious that the system was inadequate. Faced with the federal report, the University, the Board of Regents, and the legislature made the move to rectify the situation. The new building was funded and a dean hired to begin the new department. The Thompson Building housed the College of Education from its completion in 1920 until a newer, larger facility replaced it in 1969. Since that time, it has housed various student services offices.