Nellie Iles School

By Mary Humstone

June 1, 2016

HISTORY, FACTS, & ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE

• Constructed: 1919-20; Progressive Era; 1939, 1961, 1986 additions

• Architect: Wilbur Hitchcock

• One of only a few school buildings in the state that incorporated elements of the Craftsman style to provide a more home-like environment for younger students.

• The school was designed to blend in with the surrounding Undine Park neighborhood.

• The school was originally called Southside School and then Parkview in 1921. In 1936, the school was renamed in honor of Nellie Iles, a long time Laramie school teacher. Built during the Progressive Era of the early 20th century, the Nellie Iles School in Laramie provides a unique example of Prairie and Craftsman style architecture applied to a school building. Designed by renowned architect Wilbur Hitchcock, who designed many University of Wyoming campus buildings and more than 200 residences in Laramie, the Nellie Iles School embodies the Progressive-era school-house theories of the early 20th century such as large windows for natural lighting, tall ceilings, classrooms in the basement and first floor, and an advanced heating and ventilation system. A 1939 gymnasium addition funded by the Public Works Administration allowed the school to keep pace with physical education requirements in Wyoming schools.

With its large, overhanging eaves and central front-facing dormer, Nellie Iles School looks just like an enlarged version of one of the surrounding houses.

COMMUNITY IMPORTANCE & CURRENT STATUS

Although closed as a school in 1992, the Nellie Iles building continues to provide a key place of learning for children as the headquarters for the Laramie branch of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Wyoming.

Nellie Iles is a good example of what a successful repurposing project can entail. Big Brothers/Big Sisters has received a grant from the Wyoming Business Council to assess the building’s potential as a permanent home for the organization.

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