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.