HRPS Blog

James C. McKay Drove a Cadillac

Like many researchers, I suffer from Shiny Object Syndrome. This is the compulsion to follow any bright, shiny object (BSO) that comes into view, instead of finishing the project you should be working on. I first heard about BSOs from my friend Rosie Cevasco earlier this year (who read about it online on the GeneaBloggers website). A lot has been written about this syndrome, usually within the context of business owners and entrepreneurs and tech lovers chasing after each new BSO that pops up.

The Lowary Building on Mt. Rose Street
Image courtesy of the author
For me, the syndrome recently manifested itself like this: I was researching the Lowary Building on the southeast corner of Mt. Rose and Lander streets when Karalea Clough (masterful Nevada Historical Society library hostess) handed me a copy of a quaint, hand-drawn map showing many of the early Reno tracts south of California Avenue, between "Virginia Road" and the Arlington Avenue area. The map was donated to the NHS in 1922 by an "O'Brien" and someone at the NHS wrote "1900 ca" in the lower right corner, which is too early of a guess since most of these additions and tracts were surveyed in the 1907/1908 time frame. The "O'Brien's Southbrae Addition," located in the center of the map was surveyed and recorded with the Washoe County Recorder's Office in May 1908. Just south of the O'Brien Southbrae Addition is another chunk of land titled "J. F. O'Brien" right above the words "beautiful knoll."

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The Crider Building Project, Part 2: What Happened to the Doors?

"Part 1" of this project was an article I wrote about the general history of the Crider Building at 211 W. First Street, for the HRPS Spring 2016 FootPrints newsletter. I covered the early history of the building, from Rex and Mae Crider who built the Crider Building in 1936 and the Crider Apartments on Roff Way in 1937, through when the First Church of Christ, Scientist, owned both buildings from late 1958 to late 1973. Then I jumped to the current owners and tenants and discussed some of the changes made to the Crider Building since they purchased it in 2004. [Note: the history of the Crider Apartments building was not included in the article. Marvin Grulli and his partners bought both buildings in 2004, but quickly sold the apartment building, so they could focus their attention and resources on the Crider Building. Hopefully, the apartment building history will be told in the future.]

Read more: The Crider Building Project, Part 2: What Happened to the Doors?

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Paraskevidekatriaphobia

A Friday the 13th imageI'm not sure what I am more afraid of, Friday the 13th, or the name of the phobia ascribed to the fear of Friday the 13th – Paraskevidekatriaphobia. Recently, while I was searching through newspaper articles from the late 1930s and early 1940s, I came across an article about a group of businessmen that started the Anti-Superstition Society of Chicago. Apparently, the group (which started with 13 charter members, naturally,) was quite active for decades and on each Friday the 13th they would hold grand affairs and mock a whole range of closely-held superstitions. The men's antics would include setting out huge platters of cookies with the number "13" on them, arranging ladders throughout the venue for members to walk under, filling the event room with black cats, periodically lighting three cigarettes with one match…you get the picture. Anything associated with what they believed were silly, irrational fears was fair game.

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C I T Y H . . .

Reno's City Hall in 1907
Image courtesy of Jerry Fenwick

Five letters—that's all that is left of the wonderful, native-granite sign that hung above the entrance of Reno's 1907 city hall building. That once-impressive civic headquarters stood at the northwest corner of First and Center streets for 56 years and is now fading from our memories. Five letters. It's not much, but it's something. When the old building was demolished in November of 1963, the discarded materials were dumped along the Truckee River, just north of Glendale Avenue and east of U.S. 395 (in the area of today's new Walmart building). Here's the fun part of history. Jump ahead 46 years to 2009 and we find the Truckee Meadows Flood Project contractors, Campbell Construction Company, working on a flood control levee in the same spot.

Read more: C I T Y H . . .

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My Pacific Systems Home

I have always been fascinated by the concept of Sears catalog homes. Between 1908 and 1940, prospective homeowners would obtain a catalog, peruse the various designs and choose their own floorplan and exterior style. They would arrange payment, and beginning in 1912, Sears would finance your home for even greater convenience. The kit would be delivered to its town via boxcar train, then trucked to the construction site, to be assembled by the owner, friends, or a hired contractor. Everything would be included: lumber (which beginning in 1916 would be precut to size), windows, hardware, doors, cabinets and every other item needed to complete the home. In 1908, Sears issued its first specialty catalog which featured 44 styles ranging in price from $360–$2,890. Sears claims that 70,000 homes were sold across the United States over the 32-year span. The truly sad part of the story is that according to Wikipedia, a few years following the end of the catalog home sales, all records were destroyed in a corporate housecleaning. So many modern homeowners will never know that they own a Sears catalog home unless they find telltale signs such as a shipping receipt glued to a board or a number stamped into the lumber or it strongly resembles a catalog model.

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Elevenses

(or Let's Revisit Reno's Past)

I've found myself mumbling elevenses on occasion while doing historical research. I first heard the term in a wonderful scene from the Lord of the Rings movie adaptation by Peter Jackson, where the hobbit Pippin is concerned with getting all the various daily meals that he's accustomed to: breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, supper. While on their great adventure, the main source of food was lembas bread, and no matter how many times a day they called the meal by a different name, the food never changed into anything other than lembas bread. Similarly—now I know this is a stretch, but this is how my brain works—I realized that repeating inaccurate historical facts over and over never make the facts accurate. So for me, elevenses isn't the third meal of the day, taken at eleven in the morning, but the general number of times that I come across misreported historical facts about something I think is important.

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Crummer House

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…

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How Long?

So Saturday's RGJ announced that the University has received approval to move ahead with their plans for an 80,000-100,000-square-foot College of Business, which will be the "first building in the new Gateway District." The Gateway District is defined as that area between the I80 freeway north to the University gates on E. 9th Street. Ahem, excuse me! There are already buildings in this Gateway District—predominately late 19th century Victorians and other examples of early Reno architecture.

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HRPS' New Blog

Hi and welcome to HRPS' blog! My name is Debbie Hinman and I'll be one of the contributors. I'm a longtime HRPS member, former board member and current member of the FootPrints editorial board, writer, tour guide, and amateur historian on all things Reno. I have never blogged before, which I can add to my list of things I've never done which include tweeting, posting on Instagram (not sure what this is), following Pinterest, and this omission which some people feel is the most heinous of all, never seen any Star Wars movies. But I do know Reno, having been born here in the fifties and living here my whole life with the exception of two years away. What I didn't know about Reno growing up I have since learned through spending long, enchanted afternoons in the Nevada Historical Society Library and multitudes of hours at my computer pouring over old local news articles on newspaperarchives.com, and best of all, chatting with local people who have been here longer than I and/or had varied experiences and paid better attention.

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President's Message Winter 2015-2016

Looking back on 2015, our reach continues to grow. In July 2015, our walking tours were so popular I think we may have broken our own record! Mansions on the Bluff kicked off the month with 125 participants on the 4th of July. Some thought the 8 a.m. start time on a holiday would lower attendance, but they were wrong after guides led two groups on what is HRPS's most popular walk. A member let us know how much she loved the Church Tour, her first visit to any of the three churches. She reported: "since I joined [HRPS], I've been on walking tours all around Northern Italy, and my girlfriend who joined [HRPS] with me, went on one in New York City. So, not only have we enjoyed learning about Reno, we have learned a whole new way to get to know cities we visit. Thanks for doing such a great job putting the activities together."

Read more: President's Message Winter 2015-2016

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