Marsh Addition
611 Humboldt Front View

Sitting with its distinctive bay window facing front and the entry to the side, is a very historic home tucked behind lovely greenery. This is a home with all the fascinating history you could dream of. It is likely the oldest house in the Marsh Addition, which dates from 1877, and it is believed to have been moved from Virginia City following its decline once the mines were played out. Because of its age and many changes, the architectural style is hard to determine; it may have originally been Virginia City Working Class Vernacular and then later altered to look Victorian or a combination of common styles. This often happens with older homes that have many past lives, but we'll call it Folk Victorian. The current owner uses a wonderful word that describes a jumble or medley of things; she uses it to describe the style of her home. The word is gallimaufry.

The first resident to be shown in a city directory was a mechanic known as E. Burr. As time went on and the home was likely improved upon, residents became more significant. A local attorney who later became a judge was Jerome L. VanDerWerker who, in his spare time, was a gardener devoted to growing flowers. He even freely donated bulbs so others could beautify their yards. In the late 1930s the home was that of well-known local realtor, developer and insurance man Reinhold Redelius. He bought and sold houses all over Reno and even purchased and built kit homes on lots he acquired. Redelius sold the Humboldt house in 1939, advertising it as a "beautiful modern home, completely furnished."

611 Humboldt Side View

The house was purchased in 2001 by its current owner, local architect Kay Radzik, from realtor Karl Breckenridge. In her words, "To say it was rundown is being gracious." As Kay is talented not only at designing but carpentry, she began work on her new home. She discovered that the house was comprised of three separate structures, lending credence to the theory of it (or several small structures) being moved from Virginia City as most houses needed to be taken apart to be transported down Geiger Grade. Its framework also included square nails which was a clue to its era, as they were made from the late 1700s until about 1830. But the largest issue with the home was that there was no actual foundation; it was riprap (loose stones) with four major stones holding it up. After witnessing the Lake Mansion's move from South Virginia to its new location on Arlington and Court, Kay contacted the house movers and hired them to lift her house and relocate it to the backyard. She had workers dig a deep basement in which they found massive pink granite boulders that were not native to Nevada. The boulders had to come out and have been incorporated into the yard and one as a support beam for the patio cover.

Kay retained as much of the original wood as possible. When she needed additional windows and an oversized sliding door, she purchased beautiful wood ones as this is her forever home. With an eye to a long-term residency, Kay has rebuilt her home so grab bars can be easily affixed and there are small ramps on the side and back entrances. The basement that is actually the master suite has windows that allow for egress if necessary. The steps that lead down to the basement and the railings are of beautiful wood. Rebar has also been incorporated into the design.

Kay's d├ęcor is eclectic and interesting. There are houseplants everywhere and her artwork reflects Kay's spirit, interests and sense of fun. This is truly a home, showing a century and a half of character and interesting bones. It's functional. It's comfortable. And it has a wonderful back story filled with questions and possibilities.