The early neighborhood on West Fourth Street

CircleRBThere was a time when all of us reading this column walked, all together, and we looked at the old town. We usually picked a period of time around 1950 and visited the old stores and gas stations and restaurants and parks. But for some reason we never walked the neighborhood where West Fourth Street turns into Highway 40 – west of Keystone Avenue. And to the amazement of many newer readers, there wasn’t even a Keystone north of the railroad tracks before 1960. Vine was our westernmost street. Thus, there wasn’t much to see west of Vine Street.

          Or was there?

          Just west of Keystone was Reno Press Brick, originally Pressed brick – now there was an operation, owned by the Caton family. The late local historian Beth Miramon did an incredible job of assembling the myriad of local buildings, many still standing, which used the “press” manufacturing process. Caton’s companion business – Keystone Fuel – utilized a part of the huge site, from the highway northward almost to Seventh Street, the land now known as the Keystone Shopping Center (the heating oil was integral to firing the brick kilns.)

          Next west, Union Ice serviced homes and businesses even after World War II, when the transition to refrigeration still wasn’t quite complete. One of my dearest readers, nonagenarian Jean Hubbard remembers her late husband Tom and his partner Merrill McKinnon moving their truck repair business from East Fourth Street to the beautiful old stone building next to Union Ice now serving PAR Electric. McKinnon & Hubbard, they were, when men were me and ships were wood; when Macks and Reos climbed old Donner Summit – in “Grandma.” OK – low-low gear. Before 1952 it was Skateland, once hosting a young Eve Arden/”Our Miss Brooks” and I suppose I’ll have to explain that later.

          Then, the Silver State Lodge – a collection of log cabin motel units demolished only recently, where my contemporary Pat Ferraro Klos grew up as a young diva. We can’t forget the El Tavern Motel, still there and one of Reno’s hottest in 1950, also housing a tiny truck stop/diner. The proprietor of that diner was Bill Parker, a hard rock miner from Central Nevada who would build a new restaurant a long block to the east in 1958, and name it after Gold ‘n Silver. The Sunset Motel was also high-end, but lost its west wing when Stoker Drive was cut through in 1965. Across Stoker was the classy Circle RB restaurant, “RB” for Reno Browne, the songstress daughter of powerhouse local attorney John Robb Clarke. It later housed the Chinese Pagoda when that best-ever Chinese joint lost its space on B Street in Sparks. Now it’s Micasa Too. Should Alex Trebek ask where Micasa One was, (actually just Micasa), tell him Mill and Terminal on the southeast corner. You’re welcome.

          The 4th Street Bistro? Yup –it was Luigi’s. Overpriced then too. Ahh, the Villa Roma – if those walls could talk. It was later to become the Glory Hole, one of Reno’s longest-tenured restaurants, and now Washoe [2018: Whispering Vine Wines]. The motels beyond Johnny’s – the Dutch Wife, Silver Spur, Westerner, the Zephyr – were upscale, well-run, the first ones that visitors to Reno would see, and generally ran “no vacancy” during the summer until the town died in autumn.

          This is kind a quickie little article, just to let all know I’m still alive. Come back once in a while…!

© November 2014 the

4 thoughts on “The early neighborhood on West Fourth Street

  1. Good morning, Karl…thanks for another fun article, some of which was a little before my arrival in Reno (1953). I am going to forward it to my friend and high school classmate, Marie Parker Owen, who is a snowbird in Arizona. I know she will enjoy it. Also sending a copy to Ross’ daughter, Lisa, whose birth certificate says her parents’ address was the Silver State Motel. Ross joined the Air Force after dental school and was stationed at Stead AFB but there was no available base housing at the time. I guess I have been here long enough to relate to almost every column and look forward to reading them. Thanks again, Phyllis

  2. Karl, my first “date” (just lunch, actually) with my later-to-be-law enforcement husband Wally took place at the El Tavern cafe in 1960. Joanne Walen

  3. Oh Karl, Skateland was a great place to meet airmen from Stead in 1960/61. I have mentioned this to many high school friends from Sparks and we were all there at the same time. I love your stories of old Reno/Sparks, keep them coming!

  4. OMG! what memories the “OLD RENO GUY” brought back to me talking about the city West of Keystone. Thank you for that re-visit to our beloved and precious Reno of those days. I miss Reno so much, and you keep it alive.
    Betty Lougaris

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