Frohlich Building

Saint Lawrence Commons

What is now the cornerstone of a busy Midtown intersection started out as two modest storefronts facing Virginia Street. The year was 1926, and the Memphis-based Piggly Wiggly grocery chain was eager to open a second Reno store. Constructed here especially for that purpose was a single-story brick structure with two storefronts, 711 and 713 South Virginia. Piggly Wiggly originally occupied just the northern half of what was commonly referred to as the Frohlich building, after property owner (and one-time Reno mayor) August Frohlich.

At the time, a wood frame house long owned by the Stiner family still stood next door, on the corner of Saint Lawrence Avenue, which was then called Steiner Street. It was the Stiners who had platted out the three blocks extending west from Virginia Street back in 1907 (the misspelling of Stiner when naming the street was likely a clerical error).

In 1934, Piggly Wiggly expanded into the second storefront. By then the two-story Giraudo Apartments had been built next door, boasting two ground floor commercial spaces. In 1936, all area Piggly Wiggly stores, including this one, were bought out by the Nevada-based Sewell’s chain, which operated in this spot for the next five years.

Big changes came to the intersection in 1941. The old Stiner house on the corner had been moved in order to widen Steiner Street, and a new storefront was added to the north side of the grocery. In March 1941, it opened as Heric’s Doughnut Shop (really a full café). The new addition largely matched the appearance of the original brick building, with a few distinct touches—most notably, the beautiful black and red tile beneath the large plate glass windows flanking the corner entrance.

That same year, Sewell’s moved out, to a new building constructed at 445 South Virginia. Taking its place here was the Mount Rose Market, which eventually built a rear addition for selling appliances. The market closed in the late fifties, as large supermarkets began to push independent groceries out of business. Heric retired in the mid-sixties, closing his café and moving to Arizona.

From 1965 through the early 2000s, the corner spot was occupied by a series of nightclubs that eventually took over the remaining commercial spaces—first, Club-a-Go-Go, followed by the Peppermint Lounge, Del Mar Station, and Coco Boom. In 2009, the entire building was purchased, completely renovated, and divided into six separate storefronts. It reopened as Saint Lawrence Commons, housing retail, food, and a local theater.

Images

Audio

Moving into the old Del Mar Station
Interviewed in 2016, Jonathan Bascom talks about moving his Dreamer's Coffee House into the old Del Mar Station.
View File Record

Map

701 South Virginia Street, Reno, NV