Orvis Ring Grammar School, in Reno’s northeast quadrant, was the second in the quartet of Mission-style schools designed by architect George A. Ferris and built between 1909 and 1912. Orvis Ring opened for students in the spring semester of 1910. The school was located on Evans Avenue between Seventh and Eighth Streets, across from the home of B. D. Billinghurst, the superintendent of Reno schools. When Billinghurst started his job in 1908, he faced a school district with over-crowded and outdated schools. One of his first tasks was to secure funding through a series of school bonds totaling $850,000 to build new schools. With these funds, the school district built four Mission-style grade schools, known as the Four Spanish Sisters, and a new high school.
Superintendent Billinghurst recommended the Mission-style schools, and the outstanding features they offered brought Reno national recognition for material equipment of its schools. The features included: 1) one-story buildings for ease of evacuation in case of fire or earthquake; 2) domestic science and manual training equipped classrooms—a distinct innovation in school concepts; 3) spacious and attractive auditoriums capable of seating up to 500 people and offering stage, drop curtains, two types of stage scenery, foot and border lights, dressing rooms and lavatories; and serving a dual role in school and community use; and 4) a thermostatically-controlled ventilating and heating system that supplied each student with 30 cubic feet of fresh air each minute and changed the air in each classroom eight times per hour.
Orvis Ring School was dedicated in February of 1910 and named for Orvis Ring, an early Nevada educator and then-Superintendent of Public Instruction, who was known for his inspirational guidance of students and died in September 1910. The school quickly became an important institution in the community with an active P.T.A. and proud student body.
By the early 1970s, Reno was once again faced with an expanding population and aging schools. All four of the Spanish Quartet had come under threat of demolition, and in 1974, Mary S. Doten was the first to come down. Mount Rose School was retained, while McKinley Park was sold to the City of Reno. Orvis Ring School was kept open through 1975, but the cost to renovate it was deemed too high. The school was demolished in 1978 and replaced with a low-income senior apartment complex in 1986. In recognition of the school, the apartment complex was named Orvis Ring Senior Apartments.