Levy House

Sundance Books and Music

Merchant Wilhelm Levy immigrated to America from Prussia (Germany). Later, he moved to Nevada and operated dry goods stores in a couple of mining boom towns. In 1887, he moved to Reno and with his partner, Jacob Morris, rented a first-class store. The mercantile was finished with an iron façade and two plate glass show-windows.

In 1895, Levy opened his Palace Dry Goods and Carpet House in a two-story shop on East Second Street between North Virginia and Center Streets. One month later, Wilhelm married Tillie Goldsmith of Prussian ancestry in San Francisco. After their wedding, the Levys moved back and forth between San Francisco and Nevada. Their daughter Fritzie was born in San Francisco, while daughter Mildred was born in Reno.

In 1906, the Levys bought the land on the corner of Granite Street (now South Sierra Street) and California Avenue to build a mansion in the Classic Revival architectural style. The front portico has six Ionic columns reaching up to the hipped and truncated roof with two dormer windows.

When she grew up, Fritzie spent her life in San Francisco, while Tillie, Wilhelm, and Mildred lived in the mansion until their deaths. Wilhelm died in 1920, and Tillie in the 1930s. After Tillie died, the sisters inherited the house. They subdivided the land, jacked it up, and moved the house to the west side of the property, turning it to face California Avenue. In 1941, the new address of the house was 121 California Avenue.

Mildred continued to live in the house, while Fritzie took the east side of the property and leased it to Signal Oil for a gas station facing South Sierra. In 1970, South Sierra Street was widened and the gas station was demolished.

After Mildred’s death in 1978, a group of attorneys and other businesses located their offices in the mansion. Today, the Nevada Museum of Art owns the mansion and has leased it to Sundance Books and Music. The house was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

Images

Audio

A new home for Sundance
Christine Kelly discusses how she came to move Sundance Books & Music from its original home on West 4th Street into the Levy House.
View File Record

Map

121 California Avenue, Reno, NV