"History is hot." That was the message from HRPS Administrator, former President, and volunteer extraordinaire Cindy Ainsworth upon her return from presenting at the Annual Meeting of the National Council on Public History this spring. With the celebration in 2014 of Nevada's sesquicentennial, history is definitely hot in Nevada. The growing interest in local history has not only brought record attendance to HRPS' Wednesday monthly meetings, but also to our historic walking tours. On Saturday, May 3, almost 60 people turned out for our first walking tour of this season. This increased visibility is also increasing awareness about other opportunities we offer, evidenced by the increased number of applications we received for the 2014 Neighborhood Improvement Grants.
On May 9, HRPS, the City of Reno, the University of Nevada Libraries Special Collections, VSA Nevada, the Riverwalk Merchants Association, and others officially launched the Reno Historical App (www.renohistorical.org) at a press conference at the Lake Mansion. Reno Mayor, Robert Cashell, was introduced by master of ceremonies Myron Lake (impersonated by Allan Reinap). The celebration ended with a reenactment of the May 9, 1868 auction when the Central Pacific Railroad auctioned off the 400 lots that was the beginning of the town of Reno.
With the City of Reno and Artown, HRPS is a sponsor of the Parks Rephotography Project, an exhibition of historical and contemporary photographs of local parks. The project will be available for public viewing afternoons, every Friday through Monday in July, at Bicentennial Park on the Truckee River in Downtown Reno. Many HRPS members turned out the morning of May 10 to be a part of the recreation of the iconic photo taken at the 1927 dedication of the California Building. The first public showing of the Parks Rephotography Project in the California Building followed the photograph.
On May 10, we celebrated the Biggest Little Birthday Party. Volunteers were stationed at twelve historic sites surrounding the Virginia Street Bridge, each site marked by an historic picture and a QR code for the Reno Historical App. There were bands, gold panning, antique cars, performances by the Young Chautauquans, and more birthday cake!
On Friday, May 30, HRPS and VSA Nevada participated in the Creative Coalition of Midtown's Sundown in Midtown. HRPS offered two one-hour walking tours through midtown. We are working on an interactive game to test participants' knowledge and engage the public in the history of Midtown Reno.
HRPS is working on a partnership with Washoe County Library System to offer presentations of our more popular programs, and the Downtown Reno Library is working with the presenters of our February and March programs for their celebration of Nevada 150 this fall. HRPS will keep members informed of these upcoming opportunities through our website and via email to our members. If you would like to receive HRPS email updates and have not yet shared your email address, please use the email link in the "Contact Us" section below to sign up.
Because HRPS is becoming so visible in the community, more organizations are inviting HRPS to present to their members. These opportunities allow even more people to know about our activities and programs, and they provide an additional window into how HRPS impacts our community. We have heard from people who know recipients of HRPS' Neighborhood Improvement Grants and share what wonderful opportunities their friends or relatives have had to improve their homes.
History is hotter than ever in the Biggest Little City, but that doesn't mean we don't need to remain vigilant in protecting our local history. The HRPS board has identified five historic Reno buildings to relaunch our Endangered Historic Building Watch List. Please keep an eye on these valuable structures and report any activity — good or bad, and let us know of other buildings that should be included.
Byllie D'Amato Andrews