The Crider Building Project, Part 2: What Happened to the Doors?

"Part 1" of this project was an article I wrote about the general history of the Crider Building at 211 W. First Street, for the HRPS Spring 2016 FootPrints newsletter. I covered the early history of the building, from Rex and Mae Crider who built the Crider Building in 1936 and the Crider Apartments on Roff Way in 1937, through when the First Church of Christ, Scientist, owned both buildings from late 1958 to late 1973. Then I jumped to the current owners and tenants and discussed some of the changes made to the Crider Building since they purchased it in 2004. [Note: the history of the Crider Apartments building was not included in the article. Marvin Grulli and his partners bought both buildings in 2004, but quickly sold the apartment building, so they could focus their attention and resources on the Crider Building. Hopefully, the apartment building history will be told in the future.]

My article skipped over thirty years of history–yet to be researched–but on a less-serious level, the article posed a burning question: Who had removed two doors, one on the front of the building and one on the Roff Way side of the building, and filled those spaces in with surprisingly well-matched brick? I still don't know "who" removed the doors, but we know the original Roff Way door was removed and the wall patched sometime after the 1950 flood, and it's possible the building's arched door on the front was removed at the same time. I recently talked to Marvin Grulli and he shared some photographs of the building as it looked before he made any exterior changes to it. (If you are directionally challenged and get your "right" confused with your "left" at times, you may want to just look at the pictures.)

The Crider building on 1st street ca 1936Let's step through some images to see how the building changed from its original design to present day. The first image is a beautiful black and white photograph taken by professional photographer Ernie Mack sometime between 1942 and 1946 (photo courtesy of the Nevada Historical Society). This is what the building would have looked like when completed in 1936. It's difficult to see without the ability to zoom in, but the curved-trunk tree in the foreground is obscuring a single, brick-trimmed, arched glass door, situated between two large windows. On the left of the photograph a pine tree is obscuring most of the Roff Way side of the building, but on close inspection (again, you'll have to take my word for this) you can see the bottom ledge of a window towards the front of the building, and to its immediate left you can see the bottom edge of a door at ground level, and then left of that you can see another window ledge. So in summary, on the front of the building, there was a handsome, arched glass door between two large windows, and on Roff Way side there was a more modest door between two medium-sized windows. (Confused yet?)

The Crider building in 1950 in anticipation of the Truckee River floodingThe second image is a photograph provided by Sharon Walbridge. On Roff Way, workers are shoring up the two buildings' windows and doors during the 1950 flood. If you look just to the left of the light-colored truck on the right of the photograph, you can see the top brick edges of the two windows and the door between them.

The Crider buildings prior ca 2004The third image is a low-resolution photograph (I'm hoping Marvin Grulli finds the hi-resolution originals someday), which shows the building as it looked in 2004. On the front of the building there is no arched door between the two large windows, and on the Roff Way side the only original fixture is the window on the left (just right of the white car parked on the street). Evidence of the original door is gone except for the short line of bricks which sat at the door's top edge. The original window on the right, at some time in the past, had been replaced with a metal door.

The Crider building in 2008The fourth image is from Jerry Fenwick and Neal Cobb's Reno Now and Then book published in 2008, before any contemporary remodeling had taken place. For the book, Jerry was taking a photo of the beautiful First United Methodist Church, and fortunately it included some of the Crider Building. You can see orange tiles under the front windows, the wooden window frames throughout, and the blacked-out upper sections of the large front windows at street level. Too hard to see in this photo, though, along its left border at street level, is the right edge of the patched door opening. If you could zoom in closely to this area you would see that the replacement brick used to fill the door opening was similar to the original brick, but different enough (it lacked the darkest brown color) to see the repair job, if you looked hard enough. Also, too hard to see in this photograph, are bolts still poking out from the upper, center part of the building. Those bolts secured the "C R I D E R" letters of the building's original sign.

The Crider building ca 2016The last image is a current photograph showing the remodeled building from the outside. These changes, along with many on the interior of the building, were made by the present owners between 2008 to 2014. On the front of the building, the patched-brick area has been replaced with a Ponderosa Pine arched door surrounded with a dark-brown rug brick and a half-moon shaped piece of glass on top, a large automatic sliding door has been installed on the right side, all windows have been replaced, the blacked-out upper portions of the street-level windows were changed back to clear glass (letting in much more light), and the orange tiles under the windows have been removed. On the Roff Way side of the building, the owners replaced the metal door on the right (where the original right window had been) with a Ponderosa Pine door with windows alongside, and where the original door stood between the two original windows, a small "drive-up-type-window" was installed.

I would like to thank Marvin Grulli (again) for being cooperative and patient with me while I tried to figure out what happened to the doors. We know what happened to the doors now, but I am still looking for the who, when and most importantly why of this door mystery…

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