Last fall the Reno Gazette-Journal ran several articles on the rebranding of Reno, and defining the core of central Reno as a collection of neighborhoods and districts: Midtown, Wells Avenue, University Gateway, and the Arch District. Each of these districts, among other central Reno neighborhoods, contains cultural and historical resources that represent our past and make Reno distinctive from other communities. Our historic buildings weave together the common thread that tells the story of the Biggest Little City in the World. The Historic Reno Preservation Society is dedicated to supporting the preservation of these resources that have created our community, and that continue to provide a connection to our history.
Positive changes are occurring with the development and renovation in our downtown and older neighborhoods. We are seeing new life in these areas and are hearing rumors of what may be coming in the future. As I write this message, the Carter Brothers are planning private and public events at Fifty South Virginia, the former Downtown Post Office (you may have even had the opportunity to attend one of these events). You can stay informed about the progress of this project at facebook.com/50southvirginia.
The Powning Addition and Wells Avenue Neighborhood have already been designated as Neighborhood Conservation Districts, and work is in progress to have the Newlands Neighborhood declared a Neighborhood Historic District.
Businesses along Riverside Drive and in Midtown are successfully repurposing historic buildings into thriving restaurants, coffee shops, bars and retail shopping. The Nevada-California-Oregon Train Depot has been repurposed as The Depot, and holds the honor of being Reno’s first craft brewery and distillery. The Morris Hotel on 4th Street has been repurposed as the Morris Burner Hotel and is contributing to Reno’s thriving art scene.
Over the past two years the Siegel Group, based in Las Vegas, has purchased the Senator Hotel on 2nd Street, the Virginian and Nevadan Hotels on North Virginia, the Truckee Lane Building between 1st Street and the Truckee River and the classic Art Deco El Cortez Hotel. Although two of these are not historic properties, their development will definitely affect the quality of downtown redevelopment projects. The former Kings Inn, a longstanding Reno eyesore, is currently under renovation by Bentar Development, also based in Las Vegas.
The people who developed the projects in the first group discussed above are people who call Reno their home; their investments are where they live. Other projects occurring in Reno’s core are being undertaken by people who don’t have the same connection to the Truckee Meadows, and HRPS must be ever vigilant to ensure that development of historic properties in Reno is pursued in a way that celebrates and preserves our shared history. To this end, the Advisory Advocacy Council has compiled a watch list of potentially threatened historic buildings. Since we aren’t omnipresent, we are asking our HRPS members to notify us if they learn of changes—good or bad, planned or in progress – to any of the buildings below. If we have omitted a building that should be on this list, let us know so we can add it.
The City of Reno’s Community Development Department sums up my sentiments perfectly:
These "old buildings" reflect the character and values of the people who shaped our city and made it into the unique place that it is today. Historic structures add to the value and character of their surroundings. They are nonrenewable resources… In order to maintain the value of historic buildings and to preserve them for future generations, it is necessary to take deliberate measures to ensure their continued survival. (reno.gov/government/departments/community-development-department/historic-resources)
HRPS Program Chair Steve Davis continues to work with Washoe County Library System to offer a second presentation of each of our regular HRPS programs on the Sundays following the regularly scheduled fourth Wednesday programs. Paul Starrs’ program, Let the Cowboy Ride: Ranch Life in Northern Nevada, will presented at the Laxalt Theater on Wednesday, April 23, at 7:00 PM, and in the Auditorium at the Downtown Reno Library on Sunday, April 26, at 1:00 PM
In closing, we welcome Katherine Latham and Patricia & Wayne Melton, our newest Lifetime Members. The Meltons and Ms.Latham join 28 other couples and individuals who have made this commitment to HRPS. Income from Lifetime Memberships is used to support our Neighborhood Preservation Fund.
Byllie D'Amato Andrews