The Goldfield High School …. In the beginning…

Goldfield High School 1907

Plans for the Goldfield High School were first announced in the Goldfield Daily Tribune on December 8, 1906.

The 3-story structure was designed by J.B. Randall with a floor area of over 19,656 square feet.  The interior has 12 classrooms, an auditorium, 2 offices, 2 bathrooms, 4 storage rooms, an extra-large attic (that housed a huge water tank) and a seating capacity of 450.    The first year’s enrollment was 125 student and about 25 faculty members.

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 exterior was faced with brick and native stone dressed by local artisans.  It stood a proud and  substantial example Goldfield’s determination to be and show  its best for all to see.  The completed building cost $100,000.

The cornerstone was laid August 4, 1907 at 3pm and done with the full ritual of the Masonic Order.  A silver trowel made from Comstock silver was used for laying cornerstones of all the most important buildings in Nevada for about 30 years prior.  Mortar was spread on top of the stone, first pouring corn as the symbol of heavenly bounty;  second, wine as the symbol of joy and gladness;  third, pouring oil, symbolic of divine peace and finished with a prayer.  When the building was completed there were actually two dedications:  November 18, 1907 and January 31, 1908.

There was one elegant addition that is 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.  Rumor has it this gate lives somewhere in Arizona.

Goldfield built four schools between the years 1906-1908.  As Goldfield’ population dwindled so did the need for all of the schools.  By 1918 three of the schools had closed and all the grades held classes in the high school.  By 1947  the 9th– 12th graders were bussed to Tonopah High School and only the lower classes were left using the ground floor classrooms.  In 1953 the elementary school across the street was completed and the high school building was abandoned due to its weakening foundation.   For most of the next 60 plus years, the building remained shuttered and unmaintained.  The deterioration has been devastating due to the elements, vandalism, looting and lack of interest.   The Society is working hard to acquire grants to stop the damage and make repairs. ( Check our Timeline…)

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.

The images below 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.


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.

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.

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.

At last we have a wall! 

This is a successful end to a long struggle to complete this phase of our project.  The work was done by A-1 Masonry of Las Vegas, and paid for with a Nevada  Commission for Cultural Centers and Historic Preservation (CCCHP) grant, fundraising income and private donation such as yours.  And last but not least, the window openings have been boarded up to further protect the building from the elements.

(Pictured below) During this phase of construction we were 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 next step is to sort through the very large pile of stone for the proper facing stone 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 was a year of planning, measuring, meetings and preparations

…to 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!

2018 started off with a bang

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!


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.

P.S.  We were the lucky recipient of additional funds from CCCHP in the amount of $5,057.  Apparently, one of the other projects turned back funds for whatever reason and those funds were passed on to us.


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.

2019 This has been a busy year.

 The Society has many  projects in the works for the High School.   

  1. Our Structural Engineer, Mel Green and Society President, John Ekman have worked tirelessly on the final plans and specs for the east wall repairs.   Proper replacement bricks have been donated for this section as well.   This part of the project will soon go to bid.  
  2. We were awarded $14,000 from the J.B. Snow Foundation to rebuild the front stairs.  We currently have a contractor signed to start the project in late October or early November.   The project calls for kiln dried lumber and the addition of the newel posts and railings that are currently on the way from Iowa.  The balusters are already on site.  
  3. Awarded an additional $33,000 from CCCHP 2017-18 for window repair.  In preparation for this project, volunteers have collected the rock lintels given to the Society by NDot.  Some windows in the school cannot be repairedd or replaced until these lintels are in place.

New Stairs Complete At Last

Thanks to the J.B. Snow Foundation grant we were able to “dress up” the entry to the Goldfield High School.  The balusters, railings and newel post with the beautiful wooden orbs were crafted by our incredibly talented wood guy, Daniel Prendergast of Woodminstrel Woodparts in Hillsboro Iowa.  Perchetti Construction from Tonopah, Nevada did a fabulous job of making it all happen!

The box with the railings and newel posts arrived in the nick of time for installation by Perchetti Construction.  We have Society Member, Joan Sieber, to thank for some serious heavy lifting…finding, applying and nurturing the grant as well as unearthing our wood guy in Iowa!


Restoration Progress in 2020

Despite Covid-19 and its related difficulties, we are making progress on repairs to the Goldfield High School. 

Work on the East Wall has begun and although it will be a close race, the East wall repair should be completed by the end of July.  As noted previously, the Commission for Cultural Centers and Historic Preservation (CCCHP) awarded us $80,000 plus an additional $5,000 for the wall repair.  And, also because of the virus, they gave us additional time to complete the project.  As you can see, the repair work is well underway with the crew working hard resetting brick and installing lintals.  


We also received grant funds in the amount of $33,000 to replace 44 windows in the building.  Again, we were given additional time due to the virus for that project as well.  As you can see by the photos, windows are popping out all over. 

Our window guy, Ron Young, is burning the midnight oil to get the job done by July 31st with the help of Society member Glenn Praiss.   The scope of this phase included replacement of 44 windows. 

That’s not all the windows that need to be replaced … but we have a new grant from the J.B. Snow foundation waiting in the wings to complete the window project.  Their grant award was a generous $14,000!  How About that?   We can’t thank them enough. There will be more photos when these jobs are complete, so check in often.


NOW… for some really FABULOUS news….   

In the newest round of grant applications with CCCHP we were awarded a whopping $247,000 towards a new roof for the High school.   Woo hoo!  Again, we have our President, John Ekman to thank for that.  He went to the grant meeting in Las Vegas to represent the Society and really scored.  Thank you, John! 

Brick work on the East Wall Complete at last…

Check out our refurbished east wall….  Scott Zemp Masonry did a bang up job resetting and replacing the brick on the east wall.  The job included setting the stone lintels in preparation for the new windows.  Fortunately, the crew had lots of experience putting the massive stone lintels in place since they did that once before on the south wall.

The heavy lintels required custom cuts to fit the window openings properly. That’s where our rock guy, Bryan Smalley, came to the rescue. He cut them and the Zemp crew set them into place.  A job well done as you can see.

There are still more windows to install.  However, some window frames need to be repaired prior to installation.  But our old building is starting to look like its old self!

More stupendous news to pass on… 

The Society was gifted with a truly generous donation of $5,000 to the high school restoration fund from members Stan and Amy Davis.  The Society thanks you!

Restoration Progress 2021

It’s been a year of documentation, measurements, specs and planning for the new roof with our engineer, Mel Green.   And our hard-working Society President, John Ekman, is right in the thick of it.

This is truly a monster project that includes crucial internal structural issues that must be dealt with before actual roofing can become a reality.   According to John, the funds we have available will cover a little over 56.5 % of the roof.  Fortunately, this is a project than can be accomplished in sections.  In the meantime, The Commission for Cultural Centers and Historic Preservation (CCCHP) reported that additional funds are now available.  The Society has applied for $50,000 and should know soon if we were successful.  As you well know… every dollar counts.

Eight original venetian blinds are complete.  Once the roof is done, the blinds can be hung.  That is the good news.  The bad news is there are no more original blinds to work with so the remainder will have to be reproductions.  Sigh….

A heartening end to 2021!   In December 2021, The Commission for Cultural Centers and Historic Preservation (CCCHP) awarded us an additional $32,000.  This is good news.  However we must get our project completed by the end of May, 2022.  That could be a squeaker.

The work continues……

Marching on in 2022

Most of 2022, so far, has been the continued work on plans/specs for a partial roof replacement with our engineer Mel Green.

There is a need for serious structural support inside the school involving the stairs that needs to be dealt with before full roof replacement can happen.   There is some good news, though.  The May deadline reported at the end of 2021 has been extended by CCCHP (Commission for Cultural Centers and Historic Preservation) – to January 2023.

We had hoped to go out for bid in May, however that did not happen.  June 14 2022 our application for second phase CCCHP grant was approved in the amount of $170,000 funds of which should be available later this year.

Pre-bid walks were conducted in July 6 and July 8 for the first phase roof repair.  Bids should soon follow.  Keep in mind that that grants are available in phases and particular repairs and everything must be approved by CCCHP.  To date, our project with the high school has taken 14 years.  As work continues to evolve, it will be recorded here.  We are getting closer to a new roof… keep your fingers crossed!

September thru November

Our contractor, Spectra, from Pomona, CA started work on the first phase of roof repair under the CCCHP Grant on September 19, 2002.  There were fund and plan adjustments made to address interior structural issues as well as the flat portion of the roof.

Spectra’s work at the start of this phase was reinforcing three stories of interior wall prior to roofing the flat part of the school roof.  On the left, workers removing the old lathe and plaster stuff.  On the right, a nice clean wall ready for reinforcement.  Check out those monster floor jacks to help keep the wall straight.

While crawling around under the school, workers found asbestos in the soil. This was a serious “up jumped the devil” moment since the Society believed ALL asbestos had been removed at an earlier date.  The asbestos abatement is now complete but the additional work put a serious dent in the funds for this part of the project.

The photos to the left show the completed double wall with a nice close-up view.  The reinforcement will stabilize this section of roof.  Lot of wood going on here!

Roofing for the flat section of roof is expected to be complete by the end of December this year.  That should take care of most of the serious leaking issues we’ve had in the past.  The second phase of the CCCHP grant funds should be available by the end of 2022 which will allow us to address sloped roof covering.    Still moving forward…baby steps!


Spectra specializes in Historic Construction.  We were fortunate to have them as our contractor on this project.

2023 PROGRESS hits new heights…

As you can see from the photo, the flat portion of the high school roof that supports the skylight over the stairway is now complete.  Spectra did the structural work and prepared the roof surface. Cooper Roofing from Las Vegas, NV completed the actual roofing the end of January 2023.  It was a major project and imperative to stop previous and ongoing water damage from leaking.  But the job is done and dusted and fabulous!

Next on the roofing agenda are the sloped sections.  Specifications and a working budget are in the works.  Once those details are complete the work plans will be reviewed prior to signing a funding agreement with the state and make grant funds available.  Stay tuned…!

One last thing….  According to our hard-working President, we may see some reimbursement for the asbestos abatement that was not part of the original grant.

Make a Donation to Goldfield Building Restoration Fund

All contributions provide funding for the restoration of the Goldfield High School.  We need your support. Every dollar counts! Check out our Goldfield High School Restoration Project page to see our progress.

The Goldfield Historical Society  | P.O. Box 393  |  Goldfield, Nevada 89013
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The Goldfield Historical Society, Goldfield, Nevada, is an IRS-approved 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt organization.  Your donation may be tax deductible.
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