March of 1946 marked the greatest building boom in the history of Washoe County. Just six months after the close of the Second World War, forty major construction projects were underway in the Reno-Sparks area, including the Mapes Hotel, the Trinity Episcopal Church, and a new wing on the Washoe County Courthouse.
Also in the works was a new single-story commercial building at the corner of South Virginia and Arroyo Streets, financed by Italian-born Louis Benetti. With five storefronts spanning the addresses from 1274 to 1298, the reinforced concrete building with blue tile accents represented a sizeable investment of $45,000.
The first of the storefronts to open was Martins’ Furs, on the southernmost end, run by brothers Theodore and Melvin Martin. Builders and Farmer’s Hardware anchored the building’s northern end for the next twenty years with its model electric Lionel train in the basement. Filling out the row were a cleaners, the Ma Rue Beauty Salon, and Molini’s Fountain, a popular family restaurant.
Within the next two years, Reno Frozen Food Lockers (later renamed the Ponderosa Meat Company) was built to the building’s north and Landrum’s Diner just south of Arroyo, with the Sprouse-Reitz store joining the Washoe Market across the street. The cluster of shops and services formed a busy little commercial and dining district.
One of Reno’s most inclusive bars, The Chute, operated at no. 1278 from 1981 to 1990. The block was later home to a number of antique and secondhand stores, including the Thrift Bazaar, Eileen’s Attic, and Julie’s Collectibles.