Sidney Leggett Building

Sid Leggett was one of Reno’s original ad men. He and his wife, Helen, moved to the Biggest Little City in the mid-1920s from San Luis Obispo, California, where Leggett had worked for years in outdoor advertising. In 1931, he moved his poster and display sign company into a brand new brick building at 1043-1045 South Virginia Street.

Leggett was a true pioneer of local advertising. As the city’s gaming industry took off, Leggett produced outdoor signs, both billboards and so-called “painted bulletins,” for a number of prominent clients including the famous Harolds Club. For years, Leggett operated as the town’s sole “posting plant,” the only business renting billboard space by the month. Leggett purchased the pieces of property where the signs would be erected, in the process acquiring many pieces of land on the area's major thoroughfares. He also constructed the wooden supports to display the large signs.

In the early thirties, South Virginia Street was rapidly transforming into a bustling business district, where many buildings, like this one, featured commercial spaces on the ground floor and living space upstairs. Besides Leggett’s ad agency, the building’s original tenants included the wholesale Dan Dee Baking Company and an auto repair shop.

Within a year, the bakery merged with another local company and moved out. Leggett got divorced in 1932 and moved into the spacious upstairs apartment. At some point, he gained ownership of the property, and in 1939, he received a permit to build an adjacent commercial building, just to the north. Through the 1940s, he shared the property with a variety of small businesses, including a mining supply company and a series of furniture stores.

Leggett continued to live in the building with his second wife, Freda, even after selling his ad agency to Jess Heywood in the 1940s. In the following years, he began to develop some of the property he had purchased for his billboard business, constructing the neighboring Ho-Hum Motel and the Ox-Bow Lodge, also on South Virginia Street, as well as the Sutro Motel on East 4th Street.

In the decades to follow, this building became a popular address for businesses selling everything from sporting goods to martial arts training. Sidney Leggett died in 1969, and his family, including his two sons, John Brice and Les, inherited many properties throughout the city, including the motels and numerous lots along South Virginia Street.

Images

Audio

Sidney Leggett's sign business
Interviewed in 2015 by Alicia Barber, Jan Leggett describes the sign and billboard business operated by his grandfather, Sidney Leggett, in the 1930s and 1940s.
View File Record

Map

1039 South Virginia Street, Reno, NV