Sundance Books & Music, once the Levy Mansion


William Levy emigrated from Germany and opened a dry goods store in Virginia City, later journeying to Reno in 1887 to open the Palace Dry Goods store at 211 North Virginia Street (later the site of the Palace Club.) He had a partner, Herman Morris.
               Abraham Goldsmith and his wife had a daughter, Tillie, who would marry William Levy. The year of their wedding is unclear; her name was just-plain Tillie, not Matilda as I speculated, and our newlyweds built a fine house at 471 Granite Street (that street now known as Sierra Street.) It would cost $14,000 to build; the year of completion is listed variously as 1906 or 1907; I’ll go with 1906, a year which enables me to drone on mercilessly about an earthquake taking place to the west in San Francisco, while the architect of the University of Nevada’s Mackay School of Mines, Stanford White, was being murdered in flagrante dilecto on the roof of Madison Square Garden, which he also designed, only blocks from Tillie’s birthplace in Brooklyn.
               Contrast all that excitement to not a damn thing happening in 1907…
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William Levy passed away in 1920. The Palace Dry Goods store would remain in business for 12 more years.
William and Tillie had two daughters, Mildred, and here it gets a little vague: I have found references to a Fritzi, the other daughter; annoyingly one source shows Fritzi as a nickname for Tillie. I’m staying with Fritzi as the second daughter as I believe the source of that information, a family member who lives in Marin whom I spoke with, is superior. Fritzi married William Coblentz, a San Francisco attorney; Mildred never married.

              Tillie died in 1938. The two daughters had disparate interests; Mildred chose to live in the family home on Granite Street, while Fritzi, a resident of San Francisco, had no interest in the family home. They elected to sever the property into the east and west half of the lot, each daughter keeping one half. The grand home was moved from the easterly half of the lot, to the site of a once-expansive garden to the west. Most sources show this project being completed in 1940 – allowing for lags in telephone books, City Directories and Sanborn maps.

             The home was not simply turned ninety degrees, according to Romolo Bevilacqua, who has moved half the houses in Reno for the last half century, is an invaluable source for me, and has forgotten more about Reno than I’ll ever learn. [Rom passed away a year after this column was written.] A new poured concrete foundation was laid, and the house moved the short distance west onto that new foundation. Several exterior features of the home could not be replaced, accounting for a large set of French doors opening out onto a post-move, now non-existent balcony when attorneys Ron Bath and Larry McNabney bought the mansion in 1976. One bathroom was never replaced, but the chain-pull tank high on the wall of the bathroom over a non-existent commode remains. The icebox, huge but not quite a walk-in, was loaded with ice from the exterior of the home in the early days and remained as a storage area after the move. Mildred Levy lived in the home until her death in 1976.

             The vacant lot created by the move to the east of the home’s new location was leased to Lyons & Maffi as a Signal station in 1940, later as a Chevron station operated by Obie Dunn and ending its career when the City of Reno widened and realigned Sierra Street to connect to Plumas south of California Avenue in the late 1970s. The small parking lot east of the building was left over from that realignment.