After statehood was granted in 1889, Mandan's population along with other cities in North Dakota exploded. Both schools in town, both the "West End" school on 8th Avenue as well as the "East End" two story wood schoolhouse on Wright Avenue (now Collins Avenue) would quickly fill to capacity.
In 1899, the Mandan Board of Education presided by C.E. Draper with members T.A. Cummins, J.H. McGillic, H.H. Harmon and H.D. Stevenson set to the voters a bill to approve construction of a $15,000 ($452,000 in 2018$) "Central School" to house the junior and senior high students as well as provide a new, larger grade school for west part of the city. The bond issue passed.
An Italianate 3-story brick building was designed and constructed with a central tower and cupola. While typically rather plain, boxey and two or three stories tall, low-pitched (gently sloping) and hipped roofs with deep overhanging eaves apparently supported by decorative brackets or "corbels" are also associated with this architectural style. Windows are typically tall and narrow beneath arched or curved tops; frequently as triplets. Cupolas are typically squared; but in this instance the school building has a rather unique octagon-bell roof style.
Italianate-style architecture was popularized in Europe in the 1830s and immigrated to the United States in the late 19th century. It evolved from 16th Century Italian Renaissance architecture. Often referred to as “semi-rustic,” it was a perfect approach to a formal public building on the Dakota frontier. The Dakota Territorial Capitol, built only 7 years earlier in neighboring Bismarck, was constructed in the same architectural style. Both buildings were made with red pressed brick from the massive brickworks at Sims, only 45 miles to the west by rail.