The French/Cooke House, now owned by the Cooke family's third generation, tells the intertwined story of two attorneys who came to Nevada from very different parts of the country at the height of the state’s mining boom and later became partners with an impact on Nevada’s mining industries. Their names were LeRoy N. French and Herman R. Cooke.
This home was built for LeRoy Noah French and his wife, the former Florence Grace Roche, ca. 1910-1914. French was a successful district judge in the Eighth Judicial District who had been on the bench for three years and living in Fallon when he unexpectedly resigned and moved to Reno to practice law. He joined the firm of Hoyt & Gibbons, which was connected to George Nixon and George Wingfield, forming the partnership of Hoyt, Gibbons & French. In 1919, he formed a new partnership with Lewis A. “Bert” Gibbons and Roy Stoddard.
In 1920, Gibbons died, and French’s law practice was joined by Herman Cooke, forming the firm Cooke, French & Stoddard. At that time, the house changed hands and became the residence of the Herman Cooke family. A native of Texas, Herman Richard Cooke had been one of the most prominent attorneys and residents of Nevada since 1898. In 1906 he had moved to Tonopah, which at the time was at the mining center of the West. His law practice there was involved in several of the most significant mining litigations of the period including trials for the Tonopah Mining Company and for the Round Mountain Mines Company of which he served as attorney and director. In 1910 Herman Cooke married Annie C. McSorley of Mokelumne Hill, California, who at the time was the official court reporter in Tonopah.
In 1925, French left the firm and moved to California. Cooke eventually formed a legal partnership, Cooke & Cooke, with his son, Thomas A. Cooke, and lived with his family in the house until his death in 1956. His wife, Annie, died soon after, and the house served as a rental after that, while remaining in the Cooke family. By the mid-1960s it had become a commercial space, housing several businesses including the law firm formed by Thomas Cooke, Bruce D. Roberts, and David J. Reese.
The French/Cooke House is a Tudor Revival style with Classic influences consisting of 3,694 square feet including six bedrooms and five bathrooms plus a 554-square-foot basement. Notable architectural features include fluted Doric columns, varying exterior textures (brick and rough plaster), pilasters, sidelights at the entrance, and a balcony off the second floor.