Nevada's Historic Buildings: A Cultural Legacy (Wilber S. by Ronald M James, Elizabeth Safford Harvey

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By Ronald M James, Elizabeth Safford Harvey

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The lure of water attracted Mormon farmers here as it had in the Las Vegas Valley. Unlike those who went south, however, the first settlers to develop the eastern slope of the Sierra were not all of one faith. “Gentiles,” as the Mormons called nonbelievers, also played a role in the valleys. 15 Scattered placer miners in the region had always provided a small market for Washoe Valley produce, but a major gold and silver strike in 1859, founding the nearby Comstock Mining District, enhanced the valley’s eco- A Territory of Humble Beginnings 21 nomic opportunities.

Although the Daughters left Virginia City in 1897, the hospital continued to serve Virginia City and its surrounding areas until the 1940s, when it closed and reverted to Storey County. In 1964, community leaders persuaded Father Paul Meinecke to assume control of the structure. Inspired by Louise Curran, a local artist, Father Meinecke decided to convert the hospital into an arts center. By the spring of 1964, the old hospital, now rechristened St. 9 St. Mary Louise Hospital is a grand establishment, symbolizing a mining community at the height of bonanza.

For many Nevada settlements, the mid-1860s were far too early to consider establishing a permanent home for education, but Dayton’s founding in the 1850s made it just the place to erect the state’s oldest surviving masonry school. Of course, residents often romanticize their cherished earliest schools as being the oldest in their states, and historians are often skeptical about such claims. Nevertheless, it appears that the revered Dayton structure is older than most other schools in Nevada, and it has survived longer than any other masonry school in the state.

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