The Alice McManus Clark Library at the University

ClarkOnce upon a time I wrote of Reno’s Chism family, including that Miriam Chism’s dad was Walter E. Clark, who was president of the University of Nevada from 1917 to 1937. So far, so good.
The column created some confusion, with readers connecting the one-time Clark Library, now the Clark Administration Building on the University campus, to President Clark’s memory. Herein we’ll now straighten the record out:

The Clark Administration Building is named for Nevada native Alice McManus Clark, the wife of William A. Clark Jr. Clark’s father was a Montana senator, railroad financier, and namesake of our state’s Clark County (Las Vegas). William Clark Jr. donated the structure in memory of his wife; the building was designed by Los Angeles architect Robert D. Farquhar, and it was dedicated in October 1927. It housed the campus library from 1927 until 1962, when it was replaced by the Nobel Getchell Library and renamed the Clark Administration Building.

In 1962, the entire University of Nevada student body, all two thousand of us strong performed a bucket brigade of books, out the front door of the Alice McManus Clark Library and north along the main drive to the newly-dedicated Getchell Library. Truly a social occasion not without some hi-jinks, but a productive one indeed. There’s been talk of replacing the Getchell, as being rendered obsolete by the cyber-age [2015 edit: It’s been replaced, and the structure has been demolished].

‘Twill be a bittersweet afternoon when the Getchell’s intellectual resources are moved to their new home, wherever it may be and whatever it will be named, in one pickup-loadfull of beefy computers. [They’ve been moved, to the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center – what a name for a library – can you imagine the Music Man singing to Marian the director of the knowledge center? – loses something – back to the text:] Doesn’t sound like a big deal to celebrate at the Lil’ Wal when the job’s done, as it was 43 years ago. [53, as you read this in 2015]

And that, my friends, is the connection with Walter Clark and the University – Walter Clark was president but had no structure that I know of named for him. William Clark (the given names both starting with “W” to add to the confusion!) had the first library (and the county) named after his dad. Sounds like a dude with a little political horsepower; they broke up Lincoln County to designate its southern portion as Clark County.

Footnote: I’ve been asked why I vacillate on the UNR vs. University of Nevada usage. Two reasons: One, I’m a Libra and therefore intransigent by nature; secondly, I write the term appropriate for the time of the topic, e.g. the 1927 University of Nevada building dedication is University of Nevada; if something happened after 1966 it’s UNR. That’s a battle I’m losing, as our alma mater is pretty consistently UNR now, regardless of the year in context. But never University of Nevada comma Reno. Never.

And there you have it, Craig Morrison, who accused me of dogging it for letting a post stand for two weeks without replacing it. It won’t happen again…! (Baloney…)

© sort of, Reno Gazette-Journal, May 2005
photo credit: UNR

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