As South Virginia gradually converted into a business corridor, many of its longtime residents began to develop their properties for commercial purposes. Some had their houses demolished and constructed new buildings where they had stood. Others attached new commercial additions to their residences, transforming either the front sections or the entire structures into businesses.
The Segales took a different path. Giacomo “Jack” Segale, a native of Italy, had immigrated to the U.S. in 1897 and pursued mining for many years on the Comstock, in the Manhattan District and in Olinghouse, a mining camp once located about nine miles north of Wadsworth. In 1912, Jack married Jennie Ghiggeri, twenty years his junior. About five years later, the couple settled for good in Reno, where Jack ran a plumbing and heating business out of their home at 818 South Virginia Street.
Jack died in 1932 at age 59, and Jennie continued to live in the house with their only child, Vernon. Slowly, the neighborhood began to change. More and more brick commercial buildings were joining the landscape of longstanding single-family homes. Finally, the time had come to join them. In the late 1940s, Jennie and Vernon hired the Bevilacqua House Moving company to transport their house to a piece of property on the other side of the block, where Jennie continued to live.
In its place, Vernon had a new business building constructed, one that was not like any other in the area. Most of the neighboring commercial buildings were either single-story businesses with high ceilings for industrial uses, or two-story buildings with stores on the ground floor and apartments above.
The Western Building opened in June of 1951 as a commercial building with a spacious second floor composed entirely of “Reno’s Newest Modern Offices.” It was a savvy move, as downtown Reno was becoming increasingly congested, and parking was at a premium. On South Virginia Street, businesses literally had more room to grow. The earliest tenants included Granata and Lucini Realtors and Insurers and New York Life Insurance. Longtime retailers occupying the ground floor included Pabco Paint Mart and the American Shoe Company.
Jennie lived out the rest of her days at 801 S. Center Street, and died in 1976 at age 82. She is buried at Mountain View Cemetery next to her husband, Giacomo.