It would be difficult to identify a building in Reno with greater architectural, historical, and cultural significance than what we know today as the Lear Theater. Completed in 1939 as the First Church of Christ, Scientist, the elegant structure has graced the north bank of the Truckee River at 501 Riverside Drive for more than 80 years. And yet its story has become one of repeatedly dashed hopes for its renovation and revitalization.

The building is back in the public eye today after years of inactivity with the announcement that the building's owner, the nonprofit organization Artown, is considering a new proposal to restore it. This therefore seems an opportune moment to help the community understand what makes this building so significant, what protections are in place to preserve that significance, and what any new plan for it should keep in mind.

In a town traditionally known for "sinful" institutions, it should not go unnoticed that between 1870 and 1950, downtown Reno had a total of 24 churches. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, which began with a congregation of just four members, was one of those churches.