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The Last School Standing

By Linda Tancs

Fourth Ward School in Virginia City, Nevada, is the last Second Empire-style school building standing in the United States. Named for the ward in which it is situated, the school opened in 1876 to alleviate overcrowding in the heart of the Comstock Mining District. The distinctive four-story school with a mansard roof was a combination grammar and high school, designed to accommodate 1,025 students. It remained in use until a new school was completed in 1936. The Fourth Ward School Museum showcases the town’s history as one of the largest mining camps west of Denver. The venue is open from May through October.

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