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Shoebox Photo Collection


  Imagine finding an old shoebox and discovering that it contains rare and remarkable photos of yesteryear! With this in mind, the images in this collection are a sample of the photos that the CCSD Archive Committee has found and identified through donations and research. Titled the Shoebox Collection, we thought you might enjoy these visual artifacts. Like going through an old shoebox of various photos, these photos aren't thematically organized as in the School Nursing and Westside Schools exhibits. Offering insights into schooling in the olden days, this is simply a fun trip down memory lane. Indeed, most of these images span from from the turn of the century up to the 1940s. Many of these photographs are from sources that include family collections, interviews, and old school files that have survived. After you scroll past the below history of the School District, the actual exhibit is almost entirely visual.  

A History of Schools in Clark County, Nevada

    The history of schools in what is now Clark County dates back to September 21, 1856, when Mormon missionaries, who had established a mission at the Old Fort in what is now Las Vegas started a school in the Fort. The first teacher was Alexander Lemon, who instructed missionaries children and the Indians. The mission ended in 1857 when the missionaries were called back to Salt Lake City and the school closed.

  The first school of any permanency in what is now is now Clark County was located at St. Thomas when 75 families from Utah settled there in 1881. Covered by Lake Mead in the 1930s some building foundations are now exposed with the continuing drought. Schools were also in operation at about the same time at Logandale, and at Overton.

  A school district was officially established and a school started at Bunkerville in 1878. The school was held in the community dining hall for a term of three or four months of the year when the children were not needed to help plant and harvest the crops.

  The first high school at Bunkerville was organized in 1913 as a branch of the Clark County High School established in Las Vegas in 1911. This was a two-year high school with the students finishing the last two years at Las Vegas.

  A school at Mesquite was recorded prior to 1900. A school was established about 1898 at Searchlight and at Goodsprings and Nelson shortly after the beginning of the 20th Century.

  In the 1920s, Clark County maintained normal schools (teacher training) at Overton and Bunkerville under control of the State Board of Education. Students took a one or two-year course after high school graduation and could be certified to teach in the schools of the state. In June 1921, an enrollment of 1,019 was reported for the public schools of Clark County.

  The City of Las Vegas was born on May 15, 1905. On August 19, 1905, the Board of School Trustees awarded a contract for a temporary frame, one-story building, with three rooms, to be built at the corner of Second and Lewis Streets. Their plans changed and on September 9, 1905, the Trustees purchased the old Salt Lake Hotel building and moved it to the corner of Second and Lewis Streets, and converted it into a two-room school, the first school established in Las Vegas. The school opened on October 2, 1905. By mid-October there were 81 children enrolled in grades 1 through 8. On March 30, 1906 the school closed because of lack of funds. The second year of school opened October 1, 1906.

  In 1910, bids were let for a new school building to cost $30,000, to be built on South Fourth Street near Bridger, for both elementary and high-school grades. This was to be a two-story, 14-classroom, mission-style building. The new building opened on September 11, 1911. This was the first permanent school building in Las Vegas. In 1955, it was converted to administrative offices for the Clark County School District. It was torn down in 1965 to make way for the Foley Federal office building.

  In June, 1917, a contract was awarded for construction of a high school building to cost $42,000, to be located on South Fourth Street and Clark. It opened in September, 1918 and contained 17 classrooms, a gymnasium and an auditorium. In 1921, a 4-room kindergarten building was built at South Fourth and Bridger on the north side of the two-story school house and a manual arts building on the south side, the existing Clark County High School built in 1917 was the corner.

  At the same time in 1921 the first branch of the Las Vegas School was built at Washington and “D” Streets on the Westside. This building was last used by the School district in 1967. Plans are underway to restore the Westside School by the Westside Alumni Association and the City of Las Vegas Historic Preservation Commission.

  By 1921 school enrollment was 534, by 1931 had increased to 1518.

  In 1930, Las Vegas High School was built at Seventh and Bridger and opened in September. The original school was built for 500 students and consisted of an academic building, a gymnasium, and a shop. Frazier Hall was added in 1949. The auditorium at Ninth and Clark was built in 1954.

  The first school building in North Las Vegas was built in 1932 and is a part of the Washington School, formerly known as North Las Vegas No. 1, which has been dormant for many years. It has two classrooms.

  The former Las Vegas High School building on South Fourth Street, being used by the sixth, seventh and eighth grades, was destroyed by fire on May 14, 1934. In September 1934, tent classrooms were used for sixth, seventh and eighth grades as a new building had not been planned. The enrollment in Las Vegas in 1934-35 was 2,183, with 150 high-school students coming from Boulder City.

  In 1936 the present Fifth Street School (Las Vegas Grammar School) was built at a cost of $150,000, with more than half of that paid by the U.S. Government Public Works Administration (WPA) 1933-39. At that time the schools in existence were Las Vegas High School, Westside School, North Las Vegas #1 (Washington), and Fifth Street Grammar School. The Fifth Street School has been restored by the City of Las Vegas as a cultural center.

  All other schools have been built since 1942. In 1917, a contract was let for a high-school building in Bunkerville to be named Virgin Valley High School. The four-year high-school at Overton was established in 1918, although high-school classes had been conducted in the elementary school building.

  On September 13, 1933, the first elementary school opened in Boulder City. High-school students were bused to Las Vegas High School. In 1935, a high school was started in Boulder City.

  The Henderson schools opened in October, 1942, with all grades 1-12. Basic High School was part of Educational District No. 2 or a branch of Las Vegas High School. The Henderson Elementary District was a separate district. The Henderson District was originally the Railroad
Pass School District which opened a school in 1931. It became the Henderson School District in 1947.

  In 1956, by legislative action, the 14 school districts in existence at this time in the county were organized into one school district. They were:


  • Blue Diamond 1928-1956)

  • Boulder City (1946-1956)

  • Duck Creek (Whitney) 1927 (1941-1956)

  • Educational District No. 1 (1919-1956)

    • Bunkerville 1878

    • Mesquite 1880

    • Overton 1880

    • Logandale 1880

  • Eldorado (Nelson) (1900-1956)

  • Garnet (Railroad box car 1940s to 1956)

  • Goodsprings (1913-1956)

  • Henderson/Railroad Pass (1931-1956)

  • Indian Springs (1924-1956)

  • Las Vegas Union School District (1925-1956)

    • Educational District No. 2 (high school)

    • Las Vegas Elementary No. 12

  • Paradise (1923 -1956)

  • Searchlight (1904-1956)

  • Sloan (1917-1956)

Most of this information was compiled by Harvey Dondero as a 1968 school board information item.

Browse through the entire online exhibit by clicking the START button
or visit a specific page by clicking a thumbnail.


Take the Shoebox Tour

Las Vegas 1905

Las Vegas 1910

Las Vegas 1912


Las Vegas 1917


Las Vegas 1917


Las Vegas 1923


Las Vegas 1929


Las Vegas 1930


Las Vegas 1936


Las Vegas 1945


Las Vegas 1949


Las Vegas 1950s


RR Pass 1932


Mesquite 1902


Mesquite 1916


Bunkerville 1918


Bunkerville 1920s


Virgin Valley1920s


St. Thomas 1915


Overton 1914


Moapa 1926


Moapa 1940s


Dry Lake 1925


Sandy Valley 1928


Sandy Valley 1930


Sandy Valley 1938


Goodsprings 1909


Goodsprings 1926

Indian Springs 1923

Eldorado 1927

Searchlight 1938


Blue Diamond 1938

Paradise Valley 1916


Las Vegas 1917


Boulder City 1917

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