Transport to the past in these time-capsule museums.

Everyone knows that museums are filled with exhibits, but what does it look like when the building itself is the exhibit? If you’re looking to do a bit of time travel, we’ve got a few locations around the Silver State to recommend. 

Inside McGill Drugstore Museum. Image shows a counter with 7 bar stools in front of said counter, with various decorations adorning the wall, while a soda machine, gumball machine, and napkin holder sits on top of the counter. Behind the counter is a cabinet full of film photography equipment alongside other random various items. A food display case sits beside the counter.
McGill Drugstore Museum © Teresa Munson



Today, there are no businesses quite like the drugstores of the mid-20th century. Back then, pharmacists dispensed syrups and pills while doubling as something of the town sage, wise in both medical knowledge and general life advice. Drugstores were places for townsfolk to hold meetings, kids to hang out after school, and families to enjoy lunch and a dessert.   

Between 1908 and 1979, the Rexall Drugstore was a central part of daily life in McGill. During those years, McGill was a company town responsible for smelting the copper shipped in from nearby Ely. McGill—and the drugstore—enjoyed many prosperous decades before the copper industry entered a sharp decline in the late 1970s.

A counter full of prescription medicine sitting on top of it. Rexall's name adorns various pieces of display items for advertising purposes. A large sign sits behind the counter that says 'Prescriptions' with the 's' being covered by a hanging cloth from the light in front of the sign.
© Teresa Munson

When McGill’s pharmacist passed in 1979, there was no one available to take over the store. With few options, the owners were forced to lock up shop—leaving everything as they found it. Fortunately, the store was later acquired by the county and converted into a museum in 1995.

Travel Nevada Pro Tip: Looking to experience a still-operating old-fashioned drugstore? Head to Economy Drug in Ely to enjoy that malt and sandwich in a sublimely old school setting. Today, visitors find the McGill Drugstore Museum virtually unchanged from how customers would have seen the shop decades ago. The store’s shelves are still filled with faded products dating back to the 1950s including shampoos, nail polish, toys, candy, and everything in between. There is no shortage of interesting relics to discover, from the soda fountain to the prescription log dating back to the 1930s.

The drugstore has many treasures to discover, but it also serves as a snapshot of what daily life once looked like for the average citizen—a perspective not often seen in museums.

An exterior shot of Dangberg Home Ranch. A white medium sized building sits in front of the Sierra Nevada mountains, which have a light dusting of snow, on a mostly sunny day with clouds lightly filling the sky. Beside the house sits three large, barren trees. Greenish grass stretches out in front of the house with a path dividing the greenery, and tables with bench seats sits on the left of the image and right in front of the building. A second brick building peeps out behind the first building on the right of the photo.
Dangberg Home Ranch



Much of the modern history of Carson Valley originates from this sprawling ranchland-turned-museum. This property was once home to German immigrant Heinrich Friedrich Dangberg, one of Nevada’s first settlers. In fact, his residency in the verdant Carson Valley predates Nevada’s statehood and even the founding of Virginia City.

Starting with just a few acres of land, it didn’t take Dangberg long to acquire several hundred additional acres and 100 head of cattle, ultimately founding the Dangberg Land and Livestock Company. When silver was discovered on The Comstock, his ranch fed the tens of thousands of migrants who flocked to the area.

A room filled with antique furniture which includes a recliner chair with a blanket and a large folded map on top, a bed with a trunk filled with various knick knacks, a wooden chair with grey and white checkered article of clothing draped on top of it, an upholstered chair with a trunk containing picture frames in it, a chest, a dresser t with lock boxes on top, a nightstand with a lamp atop it, a writing desk with an accompanying chair, a sewing table with an accompanying chair, a red and blue rug on the floor, a wooden shelf attached to the corner of the wall, and two pictures on the wall. The smaller pictures shows a wintry scene at a house and the larger picture shows baby chickens in a hat. The walls showcase a blue and grey floral patterned wall paper with a large window being center of the photo. On the opposite wall, there is a door frame which leads into another room.

Dangberg soon found it was time to upgrade his family’s modest cabin into a luxury ranch. His new property hosted a two-story residence and a dozen outbuildings including a slaughterhouse, bunkhouse, and garage.

Today, the Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park remains virtually unchanged from when it was last inhabited. In fact, all the property’s artifacts belonged to the family or were original features of the house itself. Visitors are welcome to picnic and relax on the property’s grounds, but to see the interior, be sure reserve a spot on a guided tour led by the Friends of the Dangberg Home Ranch.

Green narrow chalkboard with handwritten cursive text about Fourth Ward School's history. There are two large maps above the chalkboard of the United States and there is a clock and a flag sitting next to them. On the wall adjacent to the chalkboard, there is another map of North America. In front of the chalkboard, there is a desk and a chair alongside a display case and a bookshelf with a globe on top of it.


Virginia City

The Fourth Ward School—a four-story, Victorian Era, wood school building—is the only one of its kind remaining in the U.S. today. It preserves both the frenzy of Virginia City’s bonanza years and the history of modern education.

Classroom setting with rows of old wooden chair and desks lined up. A heater sits in the middle of the desks with piping that leads to the ceiling, and in front of it hangs a light fixture that holds two separate lights. On the back wall, there is a map that shows the lower part of Africa and a separate map below it showing the lower part of the United States. Two large windows sit next to the map with green shades pulled down half way over the windows. In the corner next to the windows, there is a piano and sheet music on top of it. On the adjacent wall, there are three more windows with green shades pulled down to various degrees. There is one picture in a frame sitting between the first and the second window and another picture in a frame sitting between the second and the third window. In the front of the classroom, there is a small snippet of a writing desk with an apple sitting o top it.

After much of Virginia City was destroyed by fire in 1875, a new school was desperately needed. Construction began that next summer, and in just four months, the new schoolhouse was ready to serve the town. The building accommodated 1,000 students and included such innovations as indoor flush toilets, drinking fountains, single desks for each student, and an advanced heating and ventilation system.

In 1878, the school graduated its first two students—Anna Herrnleben and Mary O’Farrell. Not only were they the school’s first graduates, but they were also Nevada’s first students to successfully complete nine grades. For the next 40 years, Fourth Ward teachers educated thousands of students. The boom days couldn’t last forever, though, and by the 1930s, Virginia City’s population had drastically declined. In June 1936, the last class graduated from the school.

Museum Exhibit of Fourth Ward School. On the left hand side of the room, information about the school and pictures are displayed on the wall. Between the left hand wall and the back wall, there is a hallway that leads to another part of the the museum with more information, and a door sits on the corner of the back wall leading into another room with display cases. On the right hand wall, more pictures and information are displayed on the wall while a glass case sits pushed up to the wall, which features pottery.

The enormous building sat empty for almost 50 years. Time and the elements saw its glory fade, but a restoration movement began in the late 1960s. The structure was stabilized, and in 1986, the old schoolhouse was reborn as a museum.

Today, Historic Fourth Ward School Museum visitors can embark on a fascinating, self-guided tour of the schoolhouse. Permanent exhibits include The Comstock history room and the printer’s room, which houses a restored 1887 Chandler and Price printing press. Of course, the jewel of the museum is the historic classroom, featuring wall maps, a pot-bellied stove, and even an organ.

Exterior shot of Fourth Ward School. Taken at a 3/4th angle. The building has three floors including a basement. There is stairs that lead up to the main door, which has a decorative overhang roof. The main door area juts out a few feet from the rest of the building. Above the main door is three rectangular windows, and the windows repeat the same pattern on the floor above. On top of this section sits a decorative roof with two dormers extending off the roof. The roof is a red color while the reset of the structure is a beige. The rest of the walls that are set back from the main entrance have 3 windows each side and on the first and second floor. On the third floor, there are more dormers jutting out from the roof on each side. There is an extension to the left of the building with a flatter roof but only contains one window. There is a sign that is in front of the school that covering the rest of the extension. The sign has a narrow yellow sign on top of it that reads "Chollar Mine" in large letters with "Underground mine tours" just below it. to the right of these section says "South F Street". The main sign has a blue background and has a decorative border around the words "Fourth Ward School." Below this headline has information about the school. To the right of the building, there is scaffolding. The sky is blue with sparse white clouds.

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