Filed Under Education

Mount Rose Elementary School

The Mission-style elementary school has been in continuous use since 1912.

The Mount Rose Elementary School was constructed in 1912, on a large open field at what was then the southern edge of Reno. Mount Rose School served the southwest quadrant of Reno, an area generally known today as the Old Southwest. In 1912, however, it was an up-and-coming neighborhood that was filling up with middle-class bungalows and cottages that spread south from the elite homes along the Truckee River.

Designed by the architect George Ferris, Mount Rose is one of a quartet of Mission-style schools known as the Four Spanish Sisters or the Spanish Quartet. The four schools, McKinley Park (1909), Orvis Ring (1910), Mount Rose (1912), and Mary S. Doten (1912), were laid out in nearly identical fashion in a U plan with a wing housing the auditorium extending off the rear. There were subtle differences among the four schools involving decorative features and architectural elements typical of the Mission style. Mount Rose originally contained 15 classrooms, a kitchen, and two domed towers.

Despite the Great Depression, the population of southwest Reno was growing, creating a demand for additional classrooms at Mount Rose School. In 1938, the school district applied for, and received, a grant from the federal Public Works Administration (PWA) to add classrooms and make other repairs and upgrades. The addition was a separate building that connected to the south end of the main school by a hallway. The new wing was constructed by Robert McCarthy of San Francisco, who employed Mission-style elements, in keeping with the style of the school. The addition, which included two classrooms and a lavatory, was completed in time for the start of the 1939 school year.

In 1977, there was a move by the school district to demolish the old schools. Mary S. Doten had already been torn down, Orvis Ring stood vacant, and McKinley Park housed city recreation offices. Of the original quartet, only Mount Rose continued to serve as a school. A local attorney suggested to the school district that one of the Spanish Quartet be kept in service as a tribute to the beauty and importance of the four Mission-style schools. He also recommended that it be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. The proposal gained the support of the community and school district, and Mount Rose School was listed in the National Register. Now, nearly 40 years later, the Old Southwest is one of Reno’s most desirable historic neighborhoods, and Mount Rose School continues to serve its families as both a school and a beloved landmark.


The new Mount Rose Elementary An early photo of Mount Rose Elementary School shows the natural state of the surrounding landscape upon its construction. Source: Barry O'Sullivan Date: 1912
Mount Rose School, ca. 1920 In a postcard of Mount Rose School postmarked 1920, tiny saplings mark the beginning of landscaping improvements. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: ca. 1920
Mount Rose schoolchildren, ca. 1913 A Mount Rose class ca. 1913 included two children of Judge George Bartlett: Margaret Bartlett is the 6th child from the left in the all-girl row, and Donald Bartlett is the third from the right in the top row. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Creator: Craftsman Studio Date: ca. 1913
6th and 7th graders, ca. 1916 In this photo of Mount Rose 6th and 7th graders, ca. 1916, Eleanor Siebert is in the top row 2nd from left, and Dorothy Bartlett is in the third row (from the top), 4th from left. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Creator: Craftsman Studio Date: ca. 1916
Mount Rose School, ca. 1920s At the end of its first decade, Mount Rose School was still near the edge of Reno city limits, surrounded by unimproved roads. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: ca. 1920s
First graders, ca. 1945 Students are identified in Miss Lillian Funk's first grade class, ca. 1945, in their Mount Rose classroom. Source: Mount Rose Elementary School Date: ca. 1945
Grade school yearbook, 1964-1965 Starting in the 1960s, group photos at Mount Rose School were discontinued in favor of individual shots of students in an annual yearbook. Copies of all the yearbooks are on file at the school. Source: Mount Rose Elementary School Date: 1965
A historic site Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Mount Rose Elementary School is one of the only two surviving members of Reno's "Spanish Quartet," and the only one to remain in use as an elementary school. Creator: Mella Rothwell Harmon
Mount Rose School, 2008 Expanded and renovated, Mount Rose Elementary School, pictured here in 2008, is one of the most historic schools in Reno. Creator: Max Chapman Date: 2008


915 Lander Street, Reno, NV


Mella Rothwell Harmon, “Mount Rose Elementary School,” Reno Historical, accessed December 3, 2023,