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

Levy Home, ca. 1915

Levy Home, ca. 1915

Constructed in late 1906, the Levy House originally faced Sierra Street (then known as Granite Street). This view clearly shows the California Avenue street sign running parallel to what was originally the building's left side. Photo courtesy of the Nevada Historical Society View File Details Page

Wilhelm Levy

Wilhelm Levy

A small portrait depicts Wilhelm Levy, who also went by William. Born in Prussia, he immigrated to the United States at age 25 and died in 1920 at age 62. Image courtesy of Ron Zideck View File Details Page

Fritzie and Mildred

Fritzie and Mildred

Wilhelm and Tillie's two daughters, Fritzie (left) also known to her family as Mimi, and her sister Mildred (right), also known as Tinker, grew up in the home. Mildred continued to live in the house until her death in 1978. Image courtesy of Wendy Coblentz View File Details Page

Palace Dry Goods

Palace Dry Goods

The house's owner, Wilhelm (William) Levy, partnered with Herman Morris to operate the successful Palace Dry Goods Store. Founded in 1895, the store moved in 1914 into this spacious new structure on the southwest corner of Center and Second Streets. Levy named it the Fordonia Building after his birthplace in Germany. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Levy House, 1970s

Levy House, 1970s

Wilhelm and Tillie Levy's daughter Mildred lived in the spacious house until her death in 1978. By that time, the neighborhood had become substantially more commercial in nature. Image courtesy of Nevada Historical Society View File Details Page

National Register of Historic Places

National Register of Historic Places

At the time of its listing in the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, the house was occupied by law offices. In the rear can be seen the high rise office building on the east side of South Sierra Street. Image courtesy of the National Register of Historic Places View File Details Page

Sundance Books and Music

Sundance Books and Music

Eventually, the neighboring Nevada Museum of Art purchased the property, and in 2011 leased it to Sundance Books and Music. Image courtesy of Sundance Books and Music View File Details Page

Christine Kelly, 2016

Christine Kelly, 2016

Sundance Books & Music owner Christine Kelly stands inside the Levy House, which became home to the popular independent store in 2011. View File Details Page

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 Details Page

Street Address:

121 California Avenue, Reno, NV [map]

Cite this Page:

Patty Cafferata, “Levy House,” Reno Historical, accessed July 25, 2017, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/129.

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