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The magnificent setting of the Fourth Ward School Cultural Center is almost more impressive than its fantastic range of exhibits and programs.The award-winning preservation site debuted in 1876 as an unparalleled monument to education and was touted as Virginia City’s pride and glory. Designed by architect C.M. Bennett, the ornate and elegant Victorian structure stood four stories with accommodations for more than 1,000 students and such innovations as indoor flush toilets, drinking fountains, single desks for each student and an advanced heating and ventilation system.
Today, the building that is likely to be the last Second Empire school of its scale still standing in the country houses an outstanding museum and interpretive center. Permanent exhibits include a historical overview of the Comstock, a recently renovated collection specific to Comstock mining, a display dedicated to Mark Twain and of course, collections relating to the school itself, which include a preserved 1870s classroom, alumni photographs and memorabilia. To offer a more in-depth look at the historic building and its past, the museum’s scholar-in-residence extensively researched its story and shares it with a booklet, traveling exhibit,, website, student docent manual, annotated bibliography and lectures.
In addition to its incredible setting andintriguing collections, the Fourth Ward School Cultural Center offers various programs designed to tell the real story of the American West.
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