- Created: January 20, 2016
- Written by: Debbie Hinman
So Saturday's RGJ announced that the University has received approval to move ahead with their plans for an 80,000-100,000-square-foot College of Business, which will be the "first building in the new Gateway District." The Gateway District is defined as that area between the I80 freeway north to the University gates on E. 9th Street. Ahem, excuse me! There are already buildings in this Gateway District—predominately late 19th century Victorians and other examples of early Reno architecture.
If you walk north on North Center Street beginning at Eighth Street and carefully keep your eyes averted to the left, it's easy to feel transported back to the early days of Reno. This block of homes has withstood fire, floods and earthquakes. The sidewalks may be cracked and here and there pushed up by tree roots but walking them, if you listen closely, you can hear the echoes of 120 years of footsteps behind you. Although built in a similar style, the homes are all unique in their ornamentation. My personal favorite is 829, with its whimsical tower. The tower window was for many years occupied by a poster of W. C. Fields with his trademark hat, cigar and scowling face. Walking to class in the early 1970s, even if I was worrying over an exam, I would always smile, glancing up at that face. It became a symbol for me of my college days. After graduating, I left Reno for two years. The first time I drove back to the campus, I took No. Center Street, looking for that landmark. He was still there. I truly felt as if I had come home. Many years later in speaking with owner Fred Atcheson, I asked him about the poster. He said the actor was his mother's favorite and it was her idea to give him that place of honor. It occupied that space for many years, finally becoming so tattered and faded it had to be removed. I miss seeing him but at least his tower window is still there and my memory fills in the rest. But for how long?