The Address Lost in History

In reading Kim's post about Bright Shiny Objects (otherwise known as BSOs), I found myself shouting, "Yes!" and stamping my foot because this happens to me constantly when doing research. I have always called them rabbit trails but BSOs is a much more descriptive term. Thank you, Kim!

In my response to Kim's post, I mentioned "the Freedom Movement" which I wrote about some years ago. This was totally a bright shiny object that followed on the heels of another BSO I became fascinated by. Here's how this fascination led me to a now non-existent address.

1101 Dartmouth
Image courtesy of the author.

I was in the process of researching a home for our home tour that year. The home is the large estate on Mount Rose Street, directly opposite Mark Twain Avenue. I was trying to determine when it was built—the assessor's record said 1949 but I've learned not to trust too much in those dates. While trying to determine the build date, I came across a reference to 1500 Mark Twain. Now I live on that street just two blocks from the tour home and know definitively that there is no 1500 Mark Twain Avenue. My block is all 1200s and the next block is part 1300s and part 1400s. The street dead-ends at Mount Rose. Wow, what a bright shiny object! Okay, I told myself. Maybe it has been renumbered since the 1940s when the older homes were built. Research in city directories confirmed that it had not been renumbered—all the addresses are the same today as when the homes were first built. Then where the heck was 1500? Wait—could the address of the home on Mount Rose have originally been Mark Twain? More research showed that no, its address had always been 1080 Mount Rose and it was indeed built in 1949. Could there have been a house at the end of the street before Mount Rose was put through? Nope, I found no evidence of that. My fascination with this BSO was interfering with my research on the tour homes but I couldn't let it go. With one mention, this might have been a misprint but with four mentions in the early 1940s, it seemed unlikely. Where was 1500 and what happened to it?

My willing companion Taz and I began walking my neighborhood with renewed purpose, as if I expected a ghost house numbered 1500 to suddenly appear. One of my favorite neighborhood walks is to take Nixon Street south of Mount Rose where it winds around to Dartmouth Drive, the old Interlaken property. This time as I did so, a thunderbolt struck me, stopping me dead in my tracks. My dog looked up at me inquiringly. This address existed between 1940 and 1945—1080 Mount Rose did not yet exist. So at the end of Mark Twain, there would have been a large, empty lot south to Interlaken. What if a house was built beyond that lot, the builder assuming Mark Twain would continue south as more building occurred? We started walking again, making notes of addresses. Most of the homes appeared too new to have been built in 1940. I quickly became discouraged; this is a premium area. Surely any home from 1940 would have been demolished in favor of a larger, more modern structure. But the evening was cool and the light over the pond was beautiful so I walked on. At the bend, I stopped in front of the house that seemed it would be most in alignment with Mark Twain, as best I could determine. It might be older, though certainly enlarged and remodeled over the years—hard to tell. I rushed back home to check the assessor's records for 1101 Dartmouth Drive. Bingo! When I checked the assessor's date, it said 1940. This is only a guess but I'm pretty sure I found 1500 Mark Twain Avenue.

This was very rural, outside-city-limits property in 1940, by the way. Interlaken was a huge tract owned by Charles Souter, a Reno judge. But whose house was 1500? And where is the tie-in with Freedom, my next BSO? If you'd like to know, stay tuned! My next blog will reveal all.

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