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The Wells Addition
506 Wheeler Avenue

Another tradition HRPS has begun with the past few home tours is to include a home from an earlier tour, known as an "encore house." Many of our participants may have missed it the first time around and all are worth repeating with the owner's agreement. This home from the 2014 tour is a charming example of the type of smaller home built for young families as Reno's population grew, following the Depression. The home was of quality construction and with other similar homes surrounding it, formed a safe, solid neighborhood where families could grow and flourish.

Built in 1937, the home is a Minimal Traditional style home with a Tudor arched front porch. The Minimal Traditional style was common from 1935 to 1950. Minimal Traditional met the national need for good-quality small homes during the Depression and for military and worker housing during World War II. These homes have minimal decorative detailing, but what elements there were tended to be Tudor or Colonial Revival.

Wheeler Avenue is located in the Wells Avenue Conservation District, Reno's second conservation district. The Wells Addition was established in 1905 on land originally part of a sheep ranch belonging to Sheldon O. Wells. Following Wells' death in 1900, his son-in-law Samuel Wheeler, also a sheep rancher, managed the estate, subdividing it and creating the Wells Addition. In 1909, the area became even more popular and accessible with the advent of the trolley service that ran down Virginia to Moran, then east on Moran to Wells. Early architecture was mainly Victorian and small Queen Anne designs. As the area grew, brick bungalows such as our featured home became popular, along with multi-family dwellings and more contemporary homes.

Soon after the home was built, it was purchased by Andrew (Andy) W. Roberts. Roberts had been a narcotics agent in Reno in the past, then had moved to San Francisco to practice law, then returned to Reno to open a private detective agency. Roberts applied to the City Council to operate his agency out of his home and the Council granted permission. His advertising claimed him to be, "the only licensed and bonded investigators in Nevada."

Wheeler Cottage sign

From 1944 until their deaths in 1959, the home was the residence of Paul and Lula Grimmer. Paul was a police officer and Lula was a renowned local musician, vocalist and accompanist. Lula had been a musical child prodigy on the New York Orpheum circuit, accompanying acts on piano at the age of 9. She then followed the vaudeville circuits accompanying such acts as Al Jolson, Jimmy Durante, and Sophie Tucker. In 1920, the Grimmers came to Reno where Lula was hired to direct the orchestra at the Rialto Theater (later the Granada).

Current owner Loretta Wright purchased the home in 1995. With the assistance of her son Morgan, Loretta used her creativity to make enhancements to the home and decorate it tastefully and in its period’s style. The living room has a wonderful, coved ceiling and the home has original windows and oak floors. Loretta has added decorative molding and an archway between the kitchen and breakfast room/nook area. The nook contains new built-ins in the style of the home. The kitchen sink and cabinets are original, though have been modified with doors removed and attractive lighting. Since the 2014 tour, Loretta has extended the lovely wood floor through the kitchen and replaced the countertops. Loretta also modified the basic structure of the home to meet her needs, removing a wall between the front bedroom and living room to create a fabulous formal dining room. Interior doors connecting rooms have been removed for a more open flow.

Attractive and understated on the outside, tour participants are sure to be delighted by the beautifully restored and artistically decorated interior of this small but beautiful home.