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Day 32 -The old Manogue High School bell


Submitted by Karl Breckenridge and Terri Thompson

Comes now a query from a This is Reno reader, “…what is the history of the mission bell on the old Manogue High School campus?” (referring to the original Manogue campus near East McCarran by the Truckee River, not the more-recently vacated and now razed campus on Valley Road).

Enter now Terri Thompson, known about Sparks High as Teresa Tuffo when she was graduated from there in 1964. She sent a couple of wonderfully researched and documented e-mails about the old bell, and this morning I’m using them substantially verbatim as they’re hard to improve upon. Take it away, Terri:


“When the Bishop Manogue High School campus moved from Boynton Lane to the Valley Road location in 1957, the property became the monastery for the Brothers of the Holy Rosary.  Renovation of the property included the addition of the bell tower, the pillars at the entrance with the red brick crosses, and a new chapel.  The work was undertaken between 1958 and 1960. 

“My father, Mel Tuffo, was a tile setter and brick layer by profession.  He built the structures for the Brothers and also constructed a swimming pool for them.  My younger brother, Mark, remembers when a crane lifted the bell into place after which our dad completed the bell tower’s roof.  My mother thought that the bell came from a rural Nevada church, possibly from Yerington. 

 “I spoke with Brother Philip of the Brothers of the Holy Rosary, who recalls that the bell tower and chapel were on the site when he came to Reno in 1961. He said Father (later Monsignor) Anderson was in charge of the renovations. He confirmed that the bell came from Church of the Holy Family in Yerington, and it may be that the bell originally came from the church in Gold Hill.  When that church was destroyed – by fire? – or dismantled, the bell was moved to the church in Yerington [built in 1901, in service through 1932].  

“The bell was likely removed from the bell tower at Holy Family in Yerington when the church was enlarged and the new design would not allow for the bell to be reinstalled.  Father Paul thought that the bell had originally been set into a structure at ground level.  No one seems to recall why the bell was given to the Brothers.

 “Brother Matthew said that the granddaughter of the original ranchers on the old Manogue property, Oakland school teacher Veronica Dickie, donated the funds to erect the bell tower as a memorial to her grandparents (the Alts). Brother Matthew has the original brass memorial plaque which was removed when the Brothers moved their monastery. The Alts sold the ranch to Charles Mapes’ parents who later sold to the Flicks. The Flicks sold the property to the Diocese to be used as a Catholic high school, and Manogue opened in September, 1947.  The old ranch house was renovated to provide classrooms and a new gymnasium was built. 

 “Coincidentally, my husband and I were married at St. John Vianney Church, the chapel at Manogue, in 1966.  We never connected the history of the bell coming from Yerington and of my dad building the bell tower until I started researching information in response to your article.  Our family has always been proud of our father’s ability as a brick layer and tile setter.

“Father Paul is sending me a copy of  ‘Journal of 100 years of the Church in Yerington & Smith Valley’ written in 1986 by the late Holy Family parishioner Ione Minister, which may have information on the history of the bell.  If the journal includes information that the bell indeed came from Gold Hill, I will e-mail you.”

And, as a good researcher always does, Terri gave liberal attribution to her sources, Brother Matthew Cunningham, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Reno; to Father Paul McCollum of the Holy Family Church in Yerington (he from a Sparks family), and to Brother Philip of the Brothers of the Holy Rosary.

And that’s the way research is done.  This is Reno is grateful to Terri for the article, and to Jackie Manoukian Powers who granted permission to use the artwork of her late husband Roy, depicting the entrance to the original Bishop Manogue Catholic High School. Have a nice day, and, be safe, huh?

Editor’s note: In 2011 the Truckee River Flood Project returned the historic bell to its home at the Holy Family Parish in Yerington. Read the story here: https://thisisreno.com/2011/01/historic-catholic-church-bell-on-flood-project-property-to-be-returned-to-former-site-in-yerington/

Submitted opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of This Is Reno. Have something to say? Submit an opinion article or letter to the editor here.

Karl Breckenridge

Karl Breckenridge was slowly going nuts. So he decided to help out This is Reno by writing a daily out-of-his-mind column for the duration of the coronavirus shutdown. Now that it’s over he’s back to his usual antics, drinking coffee with the boys at the Bear and, well, we’re not sure what else. But he loved sharing his daily musings with you, so he’s back, albeit a little less often, to keep on sharing. Karl grew up in the valley and has stories from the area going back to 1945. He’s been writing for 32 years locally. 

Read more from Karl Breckenridge

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