I.O.O.F. Lodge/Reno Savings Bank

Washoe County Bank

The I.O.O.F Lodge/Reno Savings Bank, on the southwest corner of Virginia and Second Streets, is one of the oldest existing downtown buildings. The two-story Italianate-style building was designed by the local architect John S. Sturgeon to house the fraternal order on the second floor, and the Reno Savings Bank and Sanders & Co. furniture store on the ground floor. The Odd Fellows celebrated the laying of the cornerstone on August 30, 1876 and the bank opened for business in January 1877.

Reno Savings Bank was organized in April 1876. Its officers and board of directors read like a Who’s Who of Reno’s movers and shakers, including Myron Lake (Reno's unofficial founder), James Kinkead, George Huffaker, and J. S. Shoemaker. However, by 1880, rumors of “something fishy” began to spread. The bank was closed and the manager, Colonel Kinkead, was tried for embezzlement, although the case was ultimately dismissed.

In 1887, the First National Bank of Nevada, looking to expand, purchased the Odd Fellows Hall for $20,000. Said to be “as solid as Mount Rose,” First National Bank opened on May 2, 1887 with officers C. T. and D. A. Bender, and G. W. Mapes. Two years later, the bank engaged prolific Nevada builder George Holesworth to construct an annex and a two-story cast-iron façade, which was the current fashion for commercial buildings. The façade, the first to be manufactured in Reno, was cast by John Michels of Reno Iron Works. The columns were a copy of those on the Powning Building down the block.

In 1896, the bank dropped its national charter and changed its name to Washoe County Bank. Within six years, the bank had outgrown its quarters and undertook a major remodeling of the façade and the interior. The elaborate Italianate exterior was replaced by a more formal Renaissance-Revival-inspired surface. The tower was removed and replaced with a flagpole.

During the Great Depression, the bank fell on hard times. George Wingfield, who at the time owned more than a third of Nevada’s banks, took it over in 1932 only to see his empire crumble at the close of that year.

Over the years, the building was occupied by other tenants including Ramos Drug Store and Edises Jewelers. In 1982, a major remodel completely changed the appearance of the building, adding modern aluminum-framed store-front windows, and a large clock tower capped with a French-style mansard roof.

Images

Washoe County Bank, 1906

Washoe County Bank, 1906

Seen here in 1906, the building reflects its original Italianate styling. A high Victorian style, Italianate is characterized by the ornate brackets, corner quoins, and elaborate window treatments. Image courtesy of Nevada Historical Society View File Details Page

"Save while there is yet time."

"Save while there is yet time."

As this 1912 newspaper advertisement claims, keeping your money at the Washoe County Bank will make you rich. It must have been true, because Reno boasted a high per capita rate of automobile ownership in the early days. Image courtesy of Reno Evening Gazette View File Details Page

Renaissance Revival

Renaissance Revival

After it became the Washoe County Bank, the owners remodeled the building, replacing the ornate Italianate brackets and detailing, giving the building a more refined and dignified look of the Renaissance Revival style. Image courtesy of Dick Dreiling View File Details Page

Interior, 1921

Interior, 1921

Directors and employees of the Washoe County Bank pose inside the building's lobby on June 18, 1921. Photo by Roy Curtis. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Ramos Drug Store, 1935

Ramos Drug Store, 1935

Ramos Drug Store opened on the building's ground floor on December 17, 1935. Drawing by Lew Hymers. Image courtesy of Reno Evening Gazette View File Details Page

View from Second Street, 1940s

View from Second Street, 1940s

Seen from the intersection of West 2nd and Sierra Streets, the Ramos Drug Store in the former bank space appears as part of a lively commercial district. Blondy's Bar, to the right, took up the first floor of the Journal Building. The Wigwam Coffee Shop, in the foreground, was a local favorite, celebrated for its deep-dish apple pie. Image courtesy of Neal Cobb View File Details Page

From bank to pawn shop

From bank to pawn shop

The building received another major exterior remodel in 1982. The owners replaced the windows with modern aluminum and added a clock tower capped with a Mansard roof, a style that harkens back to the Victorian period. The building is listed in the Nevada State Register of Historic Places. Photo by Alicia Barber View File Details Page

Street Address:

195 North Virginia Street, Reno, NV [map]

Cite this Page:

Mella Harmon, “I.O.O.F. Lodge/Reno Savings Bank,” Reno Historical, accessed March 29, 2017, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/112.

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