Historic Reno Preservation Society (HRPS) brings you the histories and stories of Reno's people, properties and organizations. We work with historians and researchers to develop these wonderful programs for your education and enjoyment. For 2021, we offer Speaker Programs via Zoom from September to November. We will offer in-person programs when we can sit elbow to elbow to listen to a speaker.

Presentations are moved to the bottom of this window after the presentation is given. The recording of the presentation will be available within a week of the actual presentation.

Dr. Alicia Barber — The Lear Theater (First Church of Christ, Scientist)

Dr. Alicia Barber
  • Date: Tuesday, January 11
  • Time: 5:30 pm
  • Location: Register Here

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. Paul Revere Williams, widely recognized as the most important African American architect of the 20th century, designed it. And yet, the building's story has become one of repeatedly dashed hopes for its renovation and revitalization. As ownership of the building transfers from Artown to the City of Reno, this seems an opportune moment to increase community awareness of what makes this building so significant, what protections are in place to preserve it, and what any new plans for it should keep in mind.

Dr. Alicia Barber is a writer, historian, and educator who specializes in the cultural history and landscapes of Nevada and the American West and collaborates statewide on public history projects through her consulting firm, Stories in Place. She is the author of Reno's Big Gamble: Image and Reputation in the Biggest Little City and an e-newsletter about Reno city development called The Barber Brief.

John Smith —Saints, Sinners and Sovereign Citizens

John L. Smith
  • Date: Tuesday, February 8
  • Time: 5:30 pm
  • Location: Register Here

John Smith discusses his new book about the grazing rights battle between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal government that resulted in a tense, armed standoff between Bundy's supporters and federal law enforcement officers. It places the Bundy conflict into the larger context of the Sagebrush Rebellion and the long struggle of the use of public lands in the American West. While examining the complex history of federal public land policies, Smith exposes both sides of this story. He shows that there are passionate true believers on opposite sides of the insurrection, along with government agents and politicians in Washington complicit in efforts to control public lands for their wealthy allies and campaign contributors. With the promise of billions of dollars in natural resource profits and vast tracts of environmentally sensitive lands hanging in the balance, the West's latest range war is the most important in the nation's history. This masterful exposé raises serious questions about the fate of America's public lands and the vehement arguments that are framing the debate from all sides.

John L. Smith is a longtime journalist and the author of more than a dozen books on some of the most significant characters in Las Vegas history. In three decades as a daily columnist with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, he garnered many state and national awards for his work. In 2016, Smith was named to the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame and was part of a group of reporters to receive the Ancil Payne Award for Ethics from the University of Oregon, the Society of Professional Journalists award for Ethics, and the James Foley Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism from Northwestern University.