The Miller-Rowe/Holgate House represents Reno’s changing trends in housing during the first half of the twentieth century. The Queen Anne-style house was built in 1903, as a single family residence that Jeanette Miller, the first owner, used as a rental property. The mining booms in Tonopah and Goldfield can be credited in part with the increased need for rental housing in Reno at the turn of the century. In those first few years, there was general prosperity and Reno's population nearly doubled. The subsequent two decades brought Reno continued progress and a growing reputation for its unique social industries, especially the migratory divorce trade for which Reno had developed a national reputation by 1910.
In August 1920, C. Leslie and Gladys Rowe purchased the house at 18 Winter Street. The couple already ran a divorce boarding house in their private home at 3 Washington Street, with Gladys serving as the resident witness, testifying in court that her tenants had indeed spent every day of the legal residency requirement in Reno. The residency requirement was the key to Reno’s famous “quickie” divorces.
With back-to-back rooming houses, the Rowes were able to generate a good deal of the divorce trade business attracted by newspaper advertisements such as: "For-rent Rooms. Housekeeping privileges, cool, clean, residential, close in"; "Attractive rooms, kitchen privileges, rent reduced, six blocks from post office"; and "Lovely Room for Lady, divorcée preferred. $7.00/week."
In 1932, the Rowes took on Arthur Holgate as a business partner. During the mid-1930s, Mrs. Rowe managed the house at 3 Washington Street, while Arthur Holgate ran the Winter Street property, serving as resident witness for the tenants. By 1938, the Rowe-Holgate divorce-housing partnership had ended and 18 Winter Street was sold to Olga DiBitonto. Within a few years, the DiBitontos built a brick duplex facing Jones Street on the lot adjoining the house. At the same time, the DiBitontos enlarged the rooming house to four units, built a four-car garage, and added a layer of brick veneer to the exterior in order to visually unify their rental holdings. In its updated form, 18 Winter Street continued to offer attractive and comfortable rental units to Reno's short and long-term residents.