Goldfield Nevada High School

The 1907 Goldfield High School Restoration Project

Goldfield High School 1907

Besides the on-going structural repairs, the Society is still taking estimates and donations to replace the large wooden front steps to the school. Curb appeal is everything…




Construction of The Goldfield High School began in 1907 and the building was officially dedicated in 1908.   The school is one of the most significant buildings remaining in the Goldfield National Historic District.   Last used in 1953, it has been shuttered and unmaintained for most of the last 60 plus years. The deterioration of the building has been devastating due to the elements, vandalism, looting and lack of interest.  

The building was impressive when first built with wide, welcoming stairs and arched Roman Style entries.  The classrooms were large with tongue and groove wood flooring and double hung windows equipped with wooden venetian blinds.  The building was faced with brick and native stone.  It stood a proud and substantial example of Goldfield’s determination to be and show the best.  There was one elegant addition that is very difficult to see in the old photos:  The portico entry had a beautiful wrought iron gate used to stop foot traffic when the building was not in use.  A drawing of the gate is shown at right.  This gate lives somewhere in Arizona.

The Goldfield Historical Society (Society) has undertaken the stabilization and restoration of the building, with the intention of utilizing it to interpret the natural and cultural history of Esmeralda County and as a community center to support the cultural and educational needs of the community. Below is a timeline of our efforts to this point.

2005…Rain and snow infiltration through a failing roof results in collapse of the southeast wall.  Volunteers install a temporary foundation/retaining wall at the first floor and brace some of the more unstable masonry with posts and beams.  

2006-2007…Volunteers continue emergency bracing, including the central skylight and begin patching the roof with donated materials.  

2008…Building/land donated to a Nevada non-profit corporation for the benefit of the people of Goldfield and Esmeralda County.  During this time the Society, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, applies for and receives a $296,000 National Park Service Save America’s Treasures(SAT ) matching funds grant to go toward restoration.

2009…Fundraising and donation solicitations begun in earnest.  $10,272 in National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) funds and $10,678 in private donations used to match $20,950 in SAT funds for a total of $41,900 to continue emergency stabilization of the southeast part of the building, including the walls, floors and ceilings.  

2010…$165,000 Nevada Commission for Cultural Affairs (CCA) grant funds awarded to match SAT funds.  These funds were never realized due to depressed state economy.

2011…$10,000 in NTHP funds and $1,000 in private donations used to match $11,000 in SAT funds for a total of $22,000 to conduct National Park Service required Interior Historic Structures Report (IHSR). 

The report, compiled by IS Architecture and Melvin Green & Associates, Structural Engineer, is a comprehensive inspection of the interior of the building.  It contains over 200 pages of information and includes floor plans for each floor as well as detailed descriptions of every room, stairway and open area with supporting photos.

Images are examples from the Interior Historic Structures Report

2012…$1,000 in private donations used to match $1,000 in SAT funds for a total of $2000 for hydraulic lift rental to further patch the roof and brace the south side masonry.

2013…$5000 in NTHP funds and $5000 in private donations used to match $10,000 in SAT funds for a total of $20,000 to conduct National Park Service required Exterior Historic Structures Report ((EHSR).  Again, meticulously prepared by IS Architecture and Melvin Green & Associates, Structural Engineer.

Images above are examples from the Exterior Historic Structures Report. The report is 100 plus pages that documents the exterior of the building, supported by detailed descriptions and photos of the extensive damage as well as recommendations to begin the restoration of the exterior.

2014 Awarded $95,000 CCA grant. $10,000 in CCA funds used to match $10,000 in SAT funds for a total of $20,000 to develop plans/specifications to permanently rebuild the south wall per IHSR/EHSR recommendations. $35,000 in CCA funds used to match $35,000 in SAT funds for total of $90,000 to construct southeast exterior wall foundation.   A lot of work and expense with nothing that shows to you, the public.  

2015…Awarded additional $43,000 in CCA(now Commission for Cultural Centers and Historic Preservation-CCCHP) funds and, with remaining $50,000 in 2014 CCA funds and $2,000 in private donations, rebuilt interior masonry course of southeast exterior wall, foundation to roof, and replaced mortar on much of the exterior masonry.

In preparation for the new inner wall, John Ekman and Dominic Pappalardo worked hard at jacking the three floors and ceiling back to their original position so that they could be attached to this wall.

The left photo shows them getting things ready for the contractor. 

The photo on the right shows the masonry guys hard at work and the inner wall going up. (Click for larger images)




At Last… We have a wall..!


This is a successful end to a long struggle to complete this phase of our project. The new wall is constructed of Concrete Masonry Units (CMU’s or concrete block to most of us) that are steel reinforced and fully grouted. 

This wall will withstand both the vertical loads of the building, furnishings and occupants, and the lateral loads of any ground movement caused by a seismic  (earthquake) or man-made (mining or local test site activity) event.

During this phase, we were also able to have much of the missing mortar replaced on the remainder of the building.  As you can see, the repointing of the missing mortar looks truly excellent.  The work was done by A-1 Masonry of Las Vegas, and paid for with a Nevada Commission for Cultural Centers and Historic Preservation grant, fundraising income and private donations such as yours. And last,  but not least, during this phase… the window openings have been boarded up to further protect the building from the elements.   The next step is to sort through the very large pile of stone for the proper facing stones to rebuild the outer wall. Might be a rock sorting party in the near future.



2016 More Progress… Rock sorting going on and exterior rock walls going up…

The mortar replacement (re-pointing) on the main entrance makes a world of difference and showcases how elegant and dramatic the entry was for this building in its heyday.

It’s wonderful to see progress. But, there’s still lots to be done.  And we NEED YOUR HELP.





Horseless Carriage Club of America tours Goldfield High School…

When the Horseless Carriage Club of America (HCCA) toured Central Nevada in late 2016,  one of their stops was Goldfield.  We were thrilled to have them park their beautiful vintage cars in front of the high school.  They toured our town as well as the school and surrounding mines.  Society volunteers manned the Community Center  which served as a relief station providing drinks, snacks and restrooms.




2017 has been a year of planning, measuring, meetings and preparations... finally complete the stabilization/rebuild of the outer south wall in 2018.  $44,000 in grant money from the Nevada Commission for Cultural Centers and Historic Preservation and $10,000 in private donations are earmarked for this project and are ready for use when the contract is awarded in early 2018. The work includes new steel plate lintel supports/steel columns and replacing stone masonry.  

A bit of roof repair...

Temporary roof repair is complete.  It looks a mite like a patchwork quilt but will do the job until money for a new roof is acquired. Inside, the south roof rafters were jacked back into their original position and secured in place on the new inner wall top plate.  

Cleaning Up During 2017...

volunteers cheerfully emptied buckets of collected rain water, pulled weeds and raked the grounds, as well as manning brooms inside.  Lots of smiles and LOTS of weeds and trash.  



AND…  last but not least – some good news and super donations…

1.  We’ve heard from our craftsman in Iowa and been advised the new balusters for the front stairs are are well on their way.   Exciting news!  However, the new front stairs we had hoped to install is currently on hold until the work on the south wall is complete.

2.  KGFN radio station donated facing stones to the Society for the continuing work on the exterior rock walls and Central Nevada Hardware donated the necessary wool pallets to store the additional stones.  

3.  The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) donated 20 original stone lintels – a real find!

4. The Society submitted a grant application for $85,000 to finish the outer east wall.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Marching Onward and Upward!



2018 is starting off with a bang...

In March, In March, Scott Zemp Masonry completed the stone work and set the massive stone lintels on the south wall with the help of our local rock guy, Brian Smalley.  More than a few of those days were genuinely miserable – wet, windy and cold but the all those guys were so cheerful, worked hard and got the job done.  We have ROCK!








Our rock guy, Brian Smalley (on the right in both photos) working the stone with helper, Willie Bailes.  Some stones needed to be cut to fit.  A tough job.


This is one of the original stone lintels donated by the Nevada Department of Transportion (NDOT) needed to complete the wall.    These lintels weigh anywhere from 850 to 1,000 pounds each.    


The Grant Application Award Results are in… 

The Goldfield Historical Society has been awarded $80,000 in grant money by the Commission for Cultural Centers & Historic Preservation.   Our project was one of 15 seeking funds.  The state will sell the general obligation bonds in the fall and the funds will be available soon thereafter (most likely November), after which we'll have around a year and half to complete the work.  Once done, the major stabilization/rebuild of the exterior walls of the High School will be complete.  We have our hard working President, John Ekman, to thank for going to Carson City and speaking to the Commission on our behalf.