Filed Under Businesses

Western Building

The building custom-built to house “Reno’s Newest Modern Offices" appeared on South Virginia in 1951.

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.

Audio

Moving Recycled Records to Midtown Interviewed in 2016, business owner Paul Doege explains how a chance meeting with Junkee Clothing Exchange owner Jessica Schneider led him to move Recycled Records to Midtown in 2012. Creator: Alicia Barber Date: 2016

Images

The new Western Building, 1951
The new Western Building, 1951 The building opened in June of 1951 with a single tenant, Granata and Lucini's insurance and real estate office. Source: Barry O'Sullivan Date: 1951
New York Life, 1953
New York Life, 1953 A jaunty newspaper advertisement in November of 1953 welcomes the offices of New York Life to the Western Building. Source: Reno Evening Gazette Date: November 17, 1953
Street widening, 1965
Street widening, 1965 A photo taken during the Department of Transportation's street widening project of 1965 shows the building's south side, where the Longhorn Motel was constructed in 1954. The American Shoe Company occupied the Western Building's ground floor from the mid-1950s through early 1970s. Source: Nevada Department of Transportation Date: 1965
Tattoos and Suits
Tattoos and Suits A wide variety of businesses occupied the Western Building's ground floor through the years. These included Reno Pabco Paint Mart, Oliver's Waterbed Showroom, Dixie Rose Tattoo, and the Reno Suit Factory. Source: Washoe County Assessor
Western Building, 2015
Western Building, 2015 More than sixty years after its construction, the Western Building remained a desirable address, profiting from the revitalization of the area as the Midtown District. Creator: Alicia Barber Date: 2015
Letters of gold
Letters of gold The address of 818 refers to the second-floor offices, accessible via a stairway on the building's north side. Creator: Alicia Barber Date: 2016
Paul Doege, 2016
Paul Doege, 2016 Recycled Records owner Paul Doege stands outside his store, which moved into the Western Building in 2012. Creator: Patrick Cummings Date: 2016

Location

818 South Virginia Street, Reno, NV

Metadata

Alicia Barber, “Western Building,” Reno Historical, accessed July 14, 2024, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/155.