The Cladianos Building represents a Reno success story, how a young Greek immigrant named Pete Cladianos, Sr. moved to Reno and became a respected businessman and gaming pioneer. Over a period of thirty years, he and his family built a business empire that included bars, motels, hotels, and a mercantile business.
An Episcopal church existed on this site at the corner of Second and Sierra Streets since the mid-1870s. As their wooden structure was so prone to fire, the congregation eventually sought a more permanent structure in a location further away from the expanding business district. In 1923, the church sold the property to Pete Cladianos, Sr. and his brother, Dan, and constructed a new edifice on the south bank of the Truckee River.
The Cladianos brothers were originally from Greece, but had moved from Sacramento to Reno to run the Economy Market, a produce stand at Commercial Row across from Reno’s main train station. In 1923, they bought the property on Second Street, borrowing $55,000 from George Wingfield’s bank, and constructed this two-story commercial building.
In his oral history for the University of Nevada Oral History Program, Pete Cladianos, Jr., remembered 26 offices on the second floor, mainly occupied by attorneys, doctors, and dentists. Ground floor tenants included businesses like Harry’s Business Machines and the Paffrath Photo Studio, owned by the McElwain family. A series of drug stores occupied the corner space, and for a time, Pete Cladianos, Sr. used the basement of the building as a shop for his slot machine business.
Pete Cladianos, Jr. once said that the Cladianos building was a “dream come true for my dad and uncle. Those were prosperous times from 1923 to 1928 and the building was full and everybody was paying rent.” Then the Stock Market crashed. But the family’s business sense and fortunes didn’t end here.
The Family opened the El Rancho Motel on South Virginia Street in 1941 and the 80-unit El Rancho Motel No. 2 on East 4th Street in 1954. In 1963 the family founded the Sands Motor Inn which has expanded over the years and has been publicly traded since 1985. The family sold its 45% share in the Sands, now known as the Sands Regency Hotel Casino, in 1999. There are many members of the Cladianos family still in Reno and the family still owns the building that bears its name.