Alpine Glass Company

The Alpine Glass Company was founded in 1925 by two brothers, Charles and Marin Rosselli. The firm’s first location was a modest brick storefront at 608 East 4th Street. There, the company sold mirrors and glass for homes and businesses, both wholesale and retail, with expertise in fixtures for a growing sector of the glass business: motor cars.

In 1928, the brothers sold out to Byron Morris, who hired Nevada’s most prominent architect, Frederic DeLongchamps, to draw up the plans for a new brick warehouse just a few blocks west, at 324 East 4th Street. The prolific and versatile DeLongchamps had designed the Nevada-Oregon-California (NCO) Railroad Depot just across the street back in 1910, as well as landmarks such as the Riverside Hotel and Washoe County Courthouse. Alpine’s new shop had a high ceiling supported by a steel truss, with large skylights to illuminate work areas for the glazers, bevelers, mirror manufacturers, and other employees.

Advertising as “Nevada’s Modern Glass House,” the business thrived under Morris’s ownership. Its workers installed large windows for many of the new service stations cropping up throughout town in the 1930s. The company also manufactured storefronts made of polished aluminum, vitrolite, and glass block for area businesses, and installed windshield, door, and window glass for automobiles “while-you-wait.”

In the years to come, the company supplied plate glass for a majority of Reno’s construction projects, from the new Reno High School on Booth Street to casinos such as the New China Club, Mapes Hotel, and Lake Tahoe’s Cal-Neva Lodge. Later high-profile projects included the University of Nevada’s Atmospherium-Planetarium.

In 1954, Morris purchased the neighboring lot to the east and constructed an addition, reportedly designed by Reno architect David Vhay. Now doubled in size, the warehouse’s entire front façade gained bright orange metal cladding and striking neon letters spelling out “Alpine Glass Co.” By 1963, the company had branch offices in Elko, Winnemucca, and Las Vegas.

In 1965, Morris sold the company to Kenneth E. Olson, owner of the Olson Glass Company in Torrence, California, and it changed hands several times after that. After sitting vacant for many years, the building was purchased in 2015 with plans to transform it into a brewery, restaurant, and concert venue.

Images

Falling into Disrepair

Falling into Disrepair

In 2015, the vacant Alpine Glass Company building retained its distinctive orange metal cladding and neon sign, while portions of the front facade had gone missing. | Creator: Alicia Barber View File Details Page

Original Location, 1925

Original Location, 1925

The Alpine Glass Company was first established in 1925 at 608 East 4th Street, in a small brick building that still stands today. Image courtesy of Neal Cobb View File Details Page

New Location, 1929

New Location, 1929

On August 24, 1929, Byron Morris announced the new location for the Alpine Glass Company, at 324 East 4th Street. The new warehouse was designed by prominent Nevada architect Frederic DeLongchamps. Image courtesy of Reno Evening Gazette View File Details Page

Site map, 1949

Site map, 1949

On this Sanborn fire insurance map from 1949, the building footprint and internal layout of the original DeLongchamps building appear on the left (west) side, while the outline of the house that was moved to construct the 1954 addition appears on the right. Image courtesy of University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Out with the Old

Out with the Old

In order to construct a new addition to the Alpine Glass building in 1955, the historic CJ Brookins house, located next door since the 1880s, was purchased by the Mt. Zion Baptist Church and moved to a new site on Montello Street for use as a youth center. Across 4th Street stands the Western Pacific (formerly NCO) Railroad Depot. Image courtesy of the Nevada Historical Society View File Details Page

Distinctive Appearance

Distinctive Appearance

With the completion of the 1955 addition to the structure, the entire front facade gained bright orange metal cladding and bold neon signage. | Creator: Washoe County Assessor's Office View File Details Page

Reception Area

Reception Area

The 1955 addition housed the company's reception area, with a curved front counter in turquoise. | Creator: Alicia Barber View File Details Page

Renovation, 2015

Renovation, 2015

The original 1929 portion of the building undergoes renovation in 2015, amid plans to convert the structure into a brewery, restaurant, and concert venue. | Creator: Alicia Barber View File Details Page

Street Address:

324 East 4th Street, Reno, NV [map]

Cite this Page:

Alicia Barber, “Alpine Glass Company,” Reno Historical, accessed March 29, 2017, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/131.

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