- Created: February 04, 2016
- Written by: Debbie Hinman
If I don't stop writing about lovely houses that are slated for demolition, I am probably going to acquire the nickname of Debbie Downer, but here goes another one…
I was lucky enough, in my new role as member of the Historical Resources Commission (HRC), to recently be able to tour some of the properties located on the Rancharrah estate. It was very informative, as I really wasn't aware of how large the property really is, and how many structures there are. In addition to John Harrah's home, there is an Equestrian Center, several houses and some small outbuildings.
According to the planner working with the new owners, Reno Land Development Company, the large house (large being a bit of an understatement–the house is 30,000 square feet) will be remodeled into a sort of community center for the new residential community to be built there. In order to accommodate the 691 units and two large commercial parcels planned for the property, most of the other structures will be razed.
This plan includes tearing down the Crummer House. Built by millionaire Norman Biltz in the early 1940s, it was later purchased by wealthy local businessman Roy Crummer and his wife Hazel. Today the home has a few scattered pieces of abandoned furniture and the wood floors are in poor condition, dull expanses studded with puddles of water and debris, but its bones are lovely. There is a wonderful bowed window in the spacious living room, with an attractive fireplace. The kitchen is a retro dream with its floral wallpaper, original cabinets and blue counter-tops and vintage appliances. The bathrooms have their original appointments and vintage tile. The front staircase winds gracefully to the second floor and there is a stair lift, as Roy had trouble climbing to the second floor later in life. It is said that this lift, usually non-functioning, moves on its own (or occupied by Roy Crummer). The day I visited, it was at the top of the stairway; our guide said it was at the bottom of the stairs the last time he was inside.
According to Jerry E. Smith who wrote a brief history of Rancharrah, Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower were good friends of the Crummers and often visited their country home. Smith describes how Ike loved to fish the ponds and walk the property along the ditch at night, listening to the frogs and crickets.
I'm so glad I got to see this small piece of Reno history and will be sad to see it succumb to "progress."