Filed Under Education

Orvis Ring School (site)

The Mission-style grammar school stood on Evans Avenue between Seventh and Eighth Streets.

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 When Billinghurst started his job in 1908, he faced a school district with over-crowded and outdated schools.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.


Ethnic diversity in Orvis Ring school Interviewed in 2012 by Emerson Marcus, Dick Belaustegui recalls the ethnic diversity of his childhood neighborhood and the many ethnic groups that attended Orvis Ring Elementary School together. Source: University of Nevada Oral History Program Creator: Emerson Marcus Date: 2012


Orvis Ring School,  ca. 1913
Orvis Ring School, ca. 1913 Students and community members work on a lot across Evans Avenue from the new Orvis Ring School. This photo may be documenting an Arbor Day activity in 1913, when students cleared two lots adjacent to the school for the planting of corn. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: ca. 1913
Orvis Ring, 1881
Orvis Ring, 1881 The school's namesake, Superintendent of Schools Orvis Ring, pictured here in 1881, began teaching in Ophir in the 1860s, followed by various periods as teacher, principal, and state superintendent. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Creator: E.P. Butler Date: 1881
School layout, 1918
School layout, 1918 As seen on the 1918 Sanborn fire insurance map of Reno, the Orvis Ring school was built of brick (signified by pink) and included instructional space for Domestic Science and Manual Training. Source: U.S. Library of Congress Creator: Sanborn Fire Insurance Company Date: 1918
Orvis Ring Elementary School
Orvis Ring Elementary School Orvis Ring Elementary School enjoyed a close relationship to the University of Nevada, due to its proximity. Education students often did their student teaching at the school. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries
First graders, ca. 1918
First graders, ca. 1918 Teacher Mila Coffin poses with her first grade class at Orvis Ring School, 1918 or 1919. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: ca. 1918
Pre-demolition Orvis Ring School in 1975, after its closure and before its demolition in 1978. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1975
No trespassing
No trespassing A sign on the soon-to-be-demolished Orvis Ring School read 'Property City of Reno, No Trespassing.' Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: ca. 1978
Demolition Begins
Demolition Begins Orvis Ring Elementary School was demolished in the summer of 1978 after officials deemed the building to be seismically unsafe. "Old Orvis Ring Crashes Down" was the headline for this photo in the June 30, 1978 edition of the Reno Evening Gazette. Source: Reno Evening Gazette Date: June 30, 1978


720 Evans Avenue, Reno, NV


Mella Rothwell Harmon, “Orvis Ring School (site),” Reno Historical, accessed July 19, 2024,