This old northern Nevada mining town's community center, built as a two-room school in 1867, was destroyed by fire Wednesday.
About an hour after a blaze was first reported in the floor of the building, firefighters had to pull back as its bell tower toppled and the roof caved in.
A summer program for children was in session when the fire started, but the children were quickly evacuated and no injuries were reported.
A Lyon County crew had been welding copper pipes for new air conditioner units in the building, but Central Lyon County Fire District chief John Gillenwater said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Silver City residents worried about historic records and photographs stored in the community center, which served as a school until the late 1950s. It also was used as a fire station and town hall.
"Pictures of every graduating class, all of the records, all kinds of stuff was in there," said Postmaster Sherry Mattei. "It pains me to see Nevada history destroyed."