Caughlin Ranch Call to Action

The Caughlin Ranch House 2016The owners are making a request to change the Master Plan Land Use Designation from Parks/Recreation/Open Space to Mixed Residential and the Zoning Designation from Open Space/Historic/Landmark Overlay to SF6/Historic/Landmark Overlay. If the land use/zoning is approved, there is a possibility that they will move forward with the planned Mayberry Gardens project which according to the Zoning Map Amendment application, "is anticipated to be a 25 unit townhouse development and to include a minor amount of professional office use in a portion of the existing structures." If you would like to review the application the link is:

HRPS is committed to keeping our members informed about issues pertaining to historic preservation, however, it is up to the individuals to make their voices heard when needed. We hope you will join us in the effort to help preserve the integrity of this local treasure.

What makes this property unique is not only the Ranch House, but the overall bucolic historic ranch setting that is within the 3.77 acres. The City of Reno Register of Historic Places nomination included the overall site and historic resources within that site. Cultural significance included the property's early Nevada farming and pioneer family history.

HRPS does not support the requested change to Mixed Residential/SF6 and would prefer that it remain Parks/Recreation/Open Space/Historic/Landmark Overlay (HL). Under the HL designation, the owners will still have the opportunity to adaptively reuse the buildings for other uses.Please see #4 under the following information concerning the HL. The land use zoning change could open up the possibility of high-density development within the 3.77 acre historic property. There is no denying, that this would change the historic cultural significance of the property.

The Ranch House was featured on HRPS 2016 home tour and if you attended, we're sure you appreciated this historic rural ranch property within suburban Caughlin Ranch. If you feel strongly about the possible changes to the Caughlin Ranch property and want to learn more or would like to speak at a public meeting about this project, you can attend the upcoming:

April 13, 3:00 pm: Historical Resources Commission (HRC) meeting at McKinley Arts and Culture, 925 Riverside Dr. Reno, Nevada 89503. You will be able to make public comments at the meeting. Just your presence at the meeting is a comment. PLEASE EMAIL YOUR COMMENTS ON THIS PROPOSED ZONE CHANGE TO JEFF BORCHARDT, EVEN IF YOU PLAN TO ATTEND A PUBIC MEETING!

The City of Reno contact for the proposed Mayberry Gardens project and the Historical Resources Commission: Jeff Borchardt — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. — Please contact Jeff if you want to receive further information about the Mayberry Gardens project or the Historical Resources Commission. Jeff will be collecting all public correspondence which will be included in the public record.

Monday April 24 from 5:30 - 7:30 pm Ward One Neighborhood Advisory Board (NAB) meeting at the Reno City Hall, 1 East First Street. The link for the agenda is:

The Agenda Item: LDC17-00051 (Mayberry Gardens Zone Change) — A request has been made for a zoning map amendment from Open Space/Historic Landmark overlay (OS/HL) to Single Family Residential - 6,000 square foot minimum/Historic Landmark overlay (SF6/HL). The ±3.77 acre site is located on the south side of Mayberry Drive, ±390 feet east of McCarran Boulevard. A Master Plan amendment (LDC17-00024) is currently under review to change the current Master Plan land use designation of Parks/Recreation/Open Space to Mixed Residential.

Contact Jenny Brekhus, City Council Ward One Representative: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Community Liaison: Calli Wilsey 689-8459.

May 3, 2017, Planning Commission Meeting. HRPS will keep you updated as this item moves forward to the Planning Commission and City Council.

The May 3rd meeting has been postponed until sometime in June. We will post the date as soon as we know it.

The following is brief historic information about the property plus further information about the City Register/Historical Resources Commission, the donated park site, and the land use/zoning/Historic Landmark Overlay.

Historic Background Information — George Andrews purchased the land ca. 1874 and first built a home near today's area of West Plumb Lane and McCarran. He moved family members, wife Bettie, son Ben and daughter Crissie, to the ranch property. He raised hay and alfalfa on the ranch. By the 1890s George and Betty divorced. Needing help to run the ranch, Crissie married Washoe County sheriff William Caughlin in 1895. The present Ranch House was originally a Virginia City orphanage and probably dates to ca. 1865-1867. The orphanage closed in 1897 and it is estimated that William Caughlin had the building disassembled and transported to Reno between ca.1901- 1904. From the time the Caughlins moved into the ranch house until shortly before her death in 1955, Crissie occupied the beautiful home.

  1. The Andrews/Caughlin Ranch, The City of Reno Register of Historic Places and the Historical Resources Commission — When the City of Reno Historical Resources Commission (HRC) reviewed the nomination in 2008, they not only took into consideration the Ranch House but viewed the complete 3.77 acres as a historical cultural ranch site. The rural, agricultural ranch site would blend in nicely with the open space park pasture located directly behind the property. The historic park land was also part of the original Andrews/Caughlin Ranch. According to the property's nomination "Statement of Significance" criteria, "Donations of land to The City of Reno (actually Washoe County) by the Caughlin family to preserve the 'country feeling' of the immediate area are the most evident contributions of the family." HRC also took this into consideration when reviewing the changes to the property for the former Garden Shop Nursery business. They felt that the business would fulfill the nomination's criteria to maintain the intact integrity of the setting and in keeping with the historic "country feeling."
  2. Deeded Gift Property — The park/large pasture area surrounding the Ranch House is comprised of 30.05 acres and is bordered to the north by Mayberry Drive and to the west by McCarran Blvd. Not to be confused, the Ranch House is privately owned and is part of the 3.77 acres, not the Deeded Gift property of 30 acres. The zone change would only apply to the 3.77 acre parcel and not the 30 acres.

    The 30 acres were donated by Crissie Caughlin's daughter, Betsy Donnelly Caughlin, to Washoe County and the deed stipulated that this property remain open space to be used as a public park and for recreational purposes. The following is from the amended 1992 Gift Deed which supports exactly what Betsy Caughlin had in mind when donating the land:

    Gift Deed, C. — During her lifetime, Betsy Caughlin Donnelly, has witnessed the explosive growth in population in Washoe County, and the continual transformation of agricultural and open-space land into homes and shopping centers, leaving little open space for the public to view, visit, and appreciate, motivating her to gift certain real property to Washoe County, a political subdivision of the State of Nevada, for the sole and exclusive purpose of the development, construction, and maintenance of a public park, subject to certain conditions described below. In making this gift, it is Betsy Caughlin Donnelly's intent to provide a quiet and peaceful setting for public enjoyment and recreation in a rural setting.
  3. Zoning controversy — Right now the Master Plan Land Use is Parks/Recreation/Open Space with the zoning designation as Open Space/Historic Landmark Overlay. The owners are asking to change the zoning to Mixed Residential/SF-6/Historic Landmark Overlay. According to the owners, both Washoe County and The City of Reno do not know why it was given an Open Space designation and speculate it was an oversight.
  4. Historic/Landmark Overlay (HL) — This property is unique in that it is on the City Register, which allows it to have the Historic/Landmark Overlay. The City of Reno has provisions within its municipal code to help owners of historic properties who adaptively reuse their property for let's say a professional office or a nursery. Per RMC 18.08.401(a)(4):
    "Any use other than those permitted in the underlying zoning district which is not detrimental to the neighborhood and would contribute to the protection and preservation of the historical, architectural, cultural or landmark value of the structure, site or district, is allowed."

    Therefore, the HL rewards the owner's efforts to preserve the property while allowing them to use the property for any number of uses. Any exterior changes to the HL property must go to the Historical Resources Commission for review. The HL designation helps to preserve but it also is a valuable asset for the owner. HRPS supports this designation.

  5. Master Plan Land Use Designation Parks/Recreation/Open Space — Mostly land devoted primarily for parks which include large open space for outdoor sports, walking trails or nature. These open space areas should be usable, accessible and protect or offer something unique, like open space on a mountain to protect both views of and from the ridgeline, historic trails along agricultural ditches or meadows or oxbows for nature study. According to the Master Plan, these open space lands may not be suitable for extensive development. Perhaps the Caughlin family at one time expected to donate the 3.77 acres to Washoe County.
  6. Mixed Residential/SF-6 — The Master Plan Land Use designation, Mixed Residential is a mix of residential and some commercial/office and could have an average of 14 or less/more dwelling units per acre. The Master Plan does not dictate what specific uses are allowed. That is the zoning code. SF-6 could include a mix of different zoning designations but according to the Washoe County Comprehensive Plan Designation, it is associated with high-density suburban. This zoning could potentially change the integrity of this historic rural ranch property.

Monthly Programs

  • November 2019
  • October 2019

Sarah E. Cowie, Ph. D., Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Reno: "Community Engagement and Collaborative Archaeology at Stewart Indian School"

Sarah CowieThe Stewart Indian School in Carson City, Nevada, established in 1890 as a federally mandated residential school, attempted to remove Native children from approximately 200 tribal communities and assimilate them into mainstream society. A collaborative archaeology project at the school connects two seemingly disparate aspects of removal. First, archaeology, historical documents and oral histories illuminate the ramifications of children’s forced removal from their families and traditional homelands for mandatory school attendance in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with repercussions lasting into present day. Second, several tribal members who participated in the archaeology project brought to light the far-reaching consequences of removing artifacts from the site, a practice that threatens to erase both their ancestors and their descendants from the landscape. Engaging young people and elders from several tribes enriched the interpretations and preservation efforts at this site, and demonstrated the knowledge and resilience of communities whose voices should be influential in archaeological research.

Sarah Cowie specializes in historical-period archaeology of the American West. She recently completed the book "Collaborative Archaeology at Stewart Indian School." She earned her B.A. in Archaeology from Mount Holyoke College, her M.S. in Industrial Archaeology from Michigan Technological University, and her Ph.D. in Anthropology from University of Arizona. Prior to teaching, she worked in cultural resource management for several years throughout the United States.

  • Date: Sunday, November 3, 2019 (first Sunday)
  • Time: 12:30 PM
  • Location: Reno Downtown Library, 301 South Center Street, Reno

Kimberly Roberts, Special Collections, UNR IGT Knowledge Center: "History of Camping in Nevada and the Sierra Nevada"

Kimberly RobertsThis presentation examines the history of camping in Nevada and the Sierra Nevada, including the development of public lands for camping and the building of campgrounds, roads, and trails. The discussion includes an examination of the development of outdoor equipment specific to camping, and the many styles of camping, ranging from leave-no-trace backpacking, to luxury glamping. The talk will cover the popularity of children's summer camps and the history of groups such as the Boy and Girl Scouts.

Kimberly Roberts is a former HRPS board member and is currently a HRPS Program Co-Chair. She works at UNR Special Collections and has a master’s degree in history, specializing in history of photography, science, environment and landscape. She curated the camping exhibit currently on display at the IGT Knowledge Center on the UNR campus.

  • Date: Wednesday, Noveber 20, 2019 (third Wednesday)
  • Time: 5:30 PM
  • Location: Northwest Library, 2325 Robb Drive, Reno

David vonSeggern, Ph. D., Geophysicist: "Alexander von Humboldt — The Forgotten Scientist"

David von SeggernWhy do you suppose there are so many places in Nevada named "Humboldt"? They honor the famous 19th century scientist Alexander von Humboldt, who did not travel in Nevada but did travel in the Americas. Learn about the exploits and accomplishments of this great general scientist, how revered he was in his day, and why his memory has largely disappeared. Today, he is often called the father of ecology and his work influenced many famous scientists: Darwin, Thoreau, Jefferson, Muir, Goethe, de Bolivar, and Gauss.

Dr. vonSeggern worked in geophysics research at Phillips Petroleum Co. to enhance 2-D and 3-D images of the subsurface. In 1992, he became Seismic Network Manager at U. Nevada for the Yucca Mountain Project (YMP) seismic studies. In retirement, he continued his seismological studies as emeritus at the Nevada Seismological Laboratory.

  • Date: Sunday, October 6, 2019 (first Sunday)
  • Time: 12:30 PM
  • Location: Reno Downtown Library, 301 South Center Street, Reno

Donnelyn Curtis, Librarian UNR IGT Knowledge Center: "The Saga of the Alfred Doten Diaries"

Donnelyn CurtisAlfred Doten (1829-1903) was an adventurer, a forty-niner, a rancher, a social sensation, and then a family man and journalist on the Comstock, and finally, a derelict succumbing to his weaknesses. His importance is as a diarist who kept a 53-year daily record of his life during a significant period of Nevada and California history. The University of Nevada, Reno acquired the diaries in 1961, resulting in a 3-volume, 2,381-page publication edited by Walter Van Tilburg Clark, launching Robert Laxalt's University of Nevada Press. It was an instant classic and became a valued source for historians. It was by necessity an abridged edition, containing less than half of the text in the original diaries. The web has opened up new possibilities to present the COMPLETE diaries, with enhancements and interactive features. A long-term project to bring the diaries online is underway, through a collaboration of Library and History faculty at UNR and the participation of dedicated volunteers. It will reveal fascinating stories of Doten and his diaries from 1849 to the present.

As a UNR librarian, Donnelyn Curtis has had several roles at the library, but her favorite is her current position in Special Collections, focusing on the needs of researchers. She has written and edited books and websites on library services and Nevada history, and has been involved with the Doten diaries for the last 10 years.

  • Date: Wednesday, October 16, 2019 (third Wednesday)
  • Time: 5:30 PM
  • Location: Northwest Library, 2325 Robb Drive, Reno

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