Mary Sherman House

Reno Unity Center

The Reno Unity Center was built as a private residence in 1895, on the former lands of Alvaro Evans. Evans had sold a portion of his extensive land holdings to Reno financier A. G. Fletcher in 1889. Fletcher subdivided the block just south of the University of Nevada campus into 14 lots. Mrs. Mary Sherman purchased one of Fletcher’s lots for $450 and on it she built a lovely Free-Classic Queen Anne home. Although she was living there in 1900, the house was not Mrs. Sherman’s primary residence for long. Over the years, she leased it to a succession of people associated in one way or another with the University.

In 1923, she sold the house to Lucile and Charles Haseman, who taught mathematics at the university, founded its chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, and organized and directed its first mens glee club. His wife hosted meetings of the American Association of University Women and the Woman's Faculty Club in their home. Later renters included Mr. and Mrs. Cecil Creel and their son, Marshall. Cecil Creel served as director of the Agricultural Extension of the University of Nevada and was appointed as Nevada's emergency welfare relief administrator for President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal relief programs.

In 1946, the owner at the time sold the house to the Reno Unity Center, which marked the beginning of a new life for the property. The original Queen Anne porch was modified to accommodate a set of double doors to signify its new use. While we do not know the precise date Reno’s Unity Center was established, we do know that the religious practice called simply “Unity” was founded in Kansas City, Missouri in the late nineteenth century by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore as a means of reconciling scientific thought and religion, and for the promotion of healing through affirmative prayer. In its early years, Unity had not developed an architectural expression of its faith, and meetings were held at "centers" rather than churches. The Reno Unity Center had been located in several different locations until the permanent site on Center Street was acquired.

According to records left behind in the building, the Reno Unity Center was well-attended. In addition to a lengthy membership list, a box full of marriage certificates from the 1940s and 1950s was discovered. One name in particular stood out on the membership list, that of Walter Baring. Baring was a native of Goldfield, the early twentieth-century mining boomtown, and a United States Congressman for Nevada. Baring’s sister Margery served as the pastor at the center between 1955 and 1975, and when Walter Baring died in July 1975, his memorial service was held there.

The Reno Unity Center occupied the Mary Sherman house until 1998 when the congregation moved to new quarters on Kings Row under the new name, the Unity Church of Reno. From 1998 to 2012, the Reno Unity Center served as a child care center. It was added to the Nevada State Register of Historic Places in 1998 and to the City of Reno historic register in 1999.

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847 North Center Street, Reno, NV