Reno Walking Tour - South of the Truckee River
This short walk includes stops at several museums as well as some of Reno's most unique historic homes.
Established in 1989, this museum showcases the extensive collection of the late Bill Harrah, as well as a variety of newly-acquired vehicles and special rotating exhibits related to automotive history. The museum's four galleries include over 200 vehicles, many of which are one-of-a-kind such as the 1907 Thomas Flyer-winner of the 1908 New York to Paris Race. The museum includes cars from the personal collection of celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, and Elvis Presley.
This unique building is the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts, which was built in 1967 and designed by the architecture firm Bozalis, Dickinson and Roloff. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 for its architecture and the role it played in bringing more cultural events to Reno. Its gold geodesic dome roof, which contains 500 aluminum panels, has been nicknamed the "golden turtle." The theater contains 1,500 seats and hosts a variety of shows. The seating area is sunk deep into the ground, allowing the roof to almost touch the ground outside.
Built in 1911, the Washoe County Courthouse is historically significant for its architecture, the political history of the county, and its association with the divorce industry. The courthouse has been in continuous use as the county seat of government since its construction. As for its architecture, the courthouse is a fine example of Beaux-Arts architecture and features many decorative elements including the large portico with Corinthian columns, terra cotta ornamentation, and the copper dome. Lastly, the courthouse is notable for the role it played in the early 20th-century divorce industry when the state became attractive to couples seeking to separate thanks to Nevada's more lenient residency laws (thousands of couples were granted divorces at the courthouse). For these reasons, the courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.
The Powning Veterans Memorial Park is a small memorial park located in downtown Reno. It features a military flag display with the bell from the USS Reno; a memorial dedicated to the fallen soldiers of the War on Terror; a statue of Major General Jesse Lee Reno (for whom the city is named); and a historical marker about a memorial water fountain dedicated to the Nevada First Cavalry Volunteers who fought in the Spanish-American War (1898-1899). The park is named after a prominent Reno figure C.C. Powning, who was the publisher of the Nevada State Journal in the last quarter of the 19th century.
The Washoe County Library is the downtown branch of Reno's public library system. Erected in 1965, it is notable for its modern architecture and it reflects the city's evolution from primarily a tourist destination to a community that embraces arts and culture. Designed by architect Hewitt Wells, the library is best known for its interior, which features hundreds of plants, shrubs, several mature trees, and a pond (landscape architect Mitchell Serven designed the interior). It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.
Sometimes referred to as “Reno’s first address,” the Lake Mansion was built in 1877. Two years later, the home was purchased by Myron Lake, who is considered to be a founder of Reno. His toll bridge over the Truckee River led the settlement to be called “Lake’s Crossing.” The home, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been moved twice since its construction.
Formerly called the Nortonia Boarding House, this historic building is considered one of the best examples of Queen Anne architecture in Reno. The most notable feature of the house includes the attractive circular balustraded porch which is supported with columns. Built around 1904, it is also significant as a reminder of the period in which Reno became known as the "divorce capital of the world." The Nortonia provided temporary housing to individuals seeking a divorce, which was easy to get in Nevada at the time compared to other states. Today, law offices occupy the building.
Established in 1931, the Nevada Museum of Art is the oldest cultural institution in the state. The museum has been located in a variety of campus buildings, the historic Hawkins House, and one other building prior to the completion of its current space. The museum includes works from around the globe, but specializes in acquiring and displaying works created by young and developing artists from the region. Along with its unique exhibits, the Nevada Museum of Art offers a variety of activities and classes. Tuition-based classes are offered each quarter to students of all ages. There are scholarships offered to the students who have the financial need. This museum also offers advice on how to preserve your personal artwork. Another opportunity offered at the Nevada Museum of Art is the chance to submit their artwork in an exhibition.
Now the location of the Sundance Books and Music store, the former Levy House is a historic home built in c.1907. It is significant as a good example of Classical Revival style and for its association with prosperous local merchant and mining entrepreneur William Levy. Notable features of the house include a two-story entrance with Ionic columns and porches on both floors. Sundance Books has been located at the house for over 30 years. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
The Garvey house is significant because it was designed by famed African-American architect Paul Revere Williams. By the time the Garvey home was built in 1934, Williams was already well-known for his famous clientele. The Garvey home, constructed at a cost of $40,000, was the most expensive ever built in Reno up to that point. The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
From 1890 until his death, this large shingle-style house was the home of Francis Griffith Newlands (1849-1917), Congressman (1892-1903) and Senator (1903-1917) of Nevada. Newlands was the author of the Reclamation Act of 1902, which placed the Federal government in the irrigation business, opening up vast areas of the West to farming.