Mount Rose, the oldest operating school in Washoe County, is celebrating its centennial this year, kicking off a series of events for the next five months. The recognition of its 100-year anniversary begins today with a reading of a proclamation in the Nevada Legislature. Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson will introduce the proclamation at 11 a.m. during the Senate’s floor session. Sen. Sheila Leslie will read the proclamation.
Principal Krissy Brown, in her first year at Mount Rose, said recognizing the school’s historical and educational importance speaks to the community’s changes over time.
“As the oldest school in the district, Mount Rose has gone through the full cycle from being the central focus of community life for the downtown and old southwest neighborhoods, to near demolition and years of changed population demographics,” Brown said. “The pendulum is now swinging back with families recognizing that the small school size, unique building and grounds, a multicultural population and proximity to cultural amenities make Mount Rose an attractive educational environment.”
Mount Rose was built in 1912 by local architect George Ferris, who designed the school in Mission Revival architectural style. The campus is the last of Reno’s “Four Sisters” built in this style as approved by the voters in 1908 and 1910 bond elections and which still functions as a school. The other remaining school is the city of Reno’s McKinley Arts and Culture Center.
The school nearly faced demolition in the 1980s because it had fallen into disrepair. Resident activists persuaded the district’s trustees at that time to reverse the decision to close the school and to instead renovate it.
Resident Ted Schroeder was one of the activists involved with keeping the school open. He recounted how former southwest Reno residents advocated for a school improvement bond, which was passed by voters and provided funding for Mount Rose’s renovation. It also opened the door for funding for other Reno schools.
“The neighbors felt the school was the heart of the neighborhood and to close the school would rip out the neighborhood’s heart,” Schroeder said. “So in that way, other neighborhoods won by our activism by having their schools improved.”
Other activities to come as part of the centennial this year include an old-fashioned picnic in October on the school ground at 915 Lander St. and an open house at which photos and newspaper clippings of the school and other world events will be on display.
The school also will have a three-part rotating exhibit, the first of which was installed last year and showed the school’s construction in urbanized Reno at the time. The second installation this spring will show the school in a post-World War II era with a focus on the school’s community. The final phase will show the changes of the Mount Rose neighborhood, a project spearheaded by Jenny Brekhus, the mother of a fourth grade student and organizer of the commemoration.