Historic Gateway District homes top Nevada history’s endangered list

UNR gets permission to look for buyers who are willing to move historic homes in Gateway District. Jason Bean

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A 19th century neighborhood on the edge of the University of Nevada, Reno, campus tops a historic preservation group’s new list of Nevada’s 11 most endangered places.

The Goldfield High School, built in the central Nevada gold-mining town in 1907, and Las Vegas High School – the city’s oldest, constructed in 1930 – are among the other historic places Preserve Nevada wants to save.

Former Nevada Gov. and U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, chairman of the nonprofit group’s board, said the list focuses on properties that have community support but face encroaching development, demolition or other threats.

“Nevada has a rich heritage,” Bryan said. “We have an obligation to preserve it.”

Reno’s “UNR Gateway District” includes about a dozen 19th century Victorian homes in a two-block area just north of the downtown casino district where the university wants to build a new business school between U.S. Interstate 80 and the campus’s southern border.

School officials announced last month they’ll consider proposals until June 7 to relocate the Queen Anne homes built between 1895 and 1920. Otherwise, the homes could face the wrecking ball.

One group has proposed moving them – intact – to nearby Evans Park and creating a historic park with interpretive signs. But Reno’s Recreation and Parks Commission this week gave a thumb’s down to that proposal and suggested the homes be moved elsewhere.

“We hope the university can find a way to keep them and repurpose them,” Bryan said.

The next two buildings on Preserve Nevada’s list have been on the National Register of Historic Places for more than 30 years – Goldfield High School since 1982 and Las Vegas High School since 1986.

Restoration efforts at the Goldfield school have been put on hold because of the need to stabilize a section of wall at risk of collapsing.

Las Vegas High School, renamed the Las Vegas Academy for Performing Arts, is an exceptional example of Art Deco architecture that faces an uncertain future as the school district considers remodeling plans, the group said.

Two of the new listings are generic – “rural downtown areas” and “Nevada’s motor courts/motels” – intended to underscore the vital role rural commercial rows and travel lodges have played in numerous communities across the state.

The others are:

– Huntridge Theater, Las Vegas. Opened in 1944 as southern Nevada’s first desegregated theater, the venue closed in 2004 and has fallen into disrepair.

– Fernley Swales, Fernley. Wagon trails that remain visible in the Forty Mile Desert between the Humboldt and Carson rivers where settlers traveled in the 1840s face threats from off-road vehicles and a nearby shooting range.

– Red Rock Canyon area, Clark County. Petroglyphs, pot shards, and the remains of roasting pits stand as evidence of a 1,000-year history of human habitation in the area threatened by Las Vegas’ westward expansion.

– Masonic Lodge No. 13/Reno Mercantile Building. Built in 1872, Reno’s oldest standing commercial building has suffered decades of neglect and needs new interior framing to prevent it from collapsing.

– Victory Hotel, Las Vegas. Originally the Lincoln Hotel, one of the oldest downtown hotels opened in 1907 near the railroad depot to cater to passengers. The mission-style building is often reported to be in danger of demolition.

– Hillside Cemetery, Reno. Established in the 1860s a few blocks west of the University of Nevada, Reno, it contains the graves of many of Reno’s early residents as well as the graves of one congressman, five mayors and Paiute chief Johnson Sides.

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