Historic Westside School Makes Its Mark In Nevada History
by Kimberly Bailey-Tureaud
From 1923 to 1967, the Westside School educated a predominantly black and Native American student body, inside a schoolhouse at the intersection of Washington Avenue and D Street in Historic West Las Vegas.
The Historic Westside School is now the oldest school building in the state of Nevada listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In earning the distinction in 1979, it joined the ranks of other landmarks, like the historic post office in downtown Las Vegas — which now houses the newly opened Mob Museum.
In 2010, the Westside School Alumni Foundation (WSAF) formed with a mission to “preserve the Westside School site, and educate and enrich the public on the historic value of the historic Westside School.” Now, its founder and president, Brenda Williams, is a leading force behind a new book entitled “Westside School: Our School, Our Community, Our Time (1923-1967).”
“Members of the Westside School Alumni mirror the diversity of ethnicity, age, faith and socioeconomic status in Nevada,” said Williams. “The book is a compilation of Westside School alumni stories, experiences, photos, and artifacts that give a written account of Historic West Las Vegas. Our lives did not necessarily focus on gaming and entertainment. Instead, we were like most regular families — trying to make it in an economically depressed community, and surviving in spite of the odds. ‘Westside School: Our School, Our Community, Our Time’ chronicles a legacy of Nevada for our children.”
The book also takes readers on a journey inside the lives of the alumni and the contributions they have made toward the growth of Las Vegas. It also details the vision to promote and support funding for the restoration and development of the Westside School building, and the effort to make it a cultural destination in the urban community.
Said Williams: “Although I have always wanted to let people know about the contributions of those who came from the underserved West Las Vegas community — and their contributions to the advancement of the city of Las Vegas — I am particularly inspired by this quote from Morgan Freeman, the Mississippi preservationist and Academy Award-winning actor: ‘Having places that give us roots is essential to our spirit and our soul. It’s important that we protect these historic places, their stories, and history with the actual buildings and surroundings intact.’ He says it all.”
A book launch for “Westside School: Our School, Our Community, Our Time (1923-1967)” is scheduled for Dec. 8 at 11 a.m. at Nevada Partners Culinary Arts Center. More information is available at (702) 489-3637 or by visiting www.wsaf.org