In 1890-91, soon after constructing his impressive residence on the bluff overlooking the Truckee River, Francis G. Newlands had a smaller house built on his estate to serve as his personal office. The second building, like the first (see separate entry for Senator Francis G. Newlands House, NHL), was designed in the Queen Anne style, a unique architectural style for the neighborhood that would eventually grow around it, but consistent with Newlands’ personal holdings in the area.
Newlands, the son-in-law of Comstock titan William Sharon, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1892 and to the U.S. Senate in 1903. He died in 1917, and the house passed to Reno physician Sidney King Morrison and his family. Born in Eureka, Nevada in 1879, Morrison had established a medical practice in Reno in 1902 and was a prominent physician in town for 40 years. He received his Doctor of Medicine degree from the Cooper Medical College in San Francisco, which is now a part of Stanford University. His medical specialty was surgery and he was noteworthy as a diagnostician; he also served as Washoe County Physician for more than a decade.
During World I, Morrison served as chief medical examiner for his district in Nevada. Many of his clients came to Reno from California and in later years he served people from all over the United States. An active Mason, he frequently provided pro bono medical services for those who could not afford his services.
Mrs. Sidney Morrison, the former Janet Bell, hosted innumerable events at the family’s Elm Court home. A former teacher in Truckee, she was exceptionally active in club life, particularly in the cause of education and the Trinity Episcopal Church. After her husband died in 1942, Janet continued to live in the house until her own death in 1972.
The Francis Newlands’ Office is a half-timbered version of the Queen Anne style consisting of 3,006 square feet plus a small basement, with four bedrooms and three bathrooms. Notable interior features include the original cast-iron radiators, original doors, floors, and hardware. One addition, a downstairs bathroom, is wallpapered with historical newspapers featuring the history of the house and surrounding area. Peter and Renate Neumann purchased the house around 1980, and have worked tirelessly to retain the building’s original character.