Simmons House

The house at 235 Lee Avenue shares a history (and a garage) with the house built directly behind it. This one, on the corner of Lee and Ridge, was originally the home of William and Emma Simmons. Mr. Simmons was a prominent Reno businessman, and he and Emma were the stepfather and mother of Forrest Eccles, who lived first at 571 Ridge (the house to the rear of this one) and later, next door to the north at 245 Lee Avenue.

Mr. Simmons was the president and principal shareholder of the wholesale Reno Grocer Company, which was located at 432 N. Virginia Street. A Canadian who immigrated at the age of 16 to Chicago, he later moved to Kansas City and then Salt Lake City before relocating to Reno. Simmons is best known for his more than 20 years as a Nevada Railroad Commissioner who successfully battled the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific railroads to end the costly “back haul” charges included in the rail lines’ rate structures.

Simmons’ wife, the former Emma Walker, was the daughter of one of Utah’s most prominent pioneer families, her father being Samuel Walker, pioneer businessman of Salt Lake City. She and William married in Salt Lake City in 1905, and after the couple relocated to Reno with their son, Forrest, she took a very active part in social and club affairs for two decades.

Simmons purchased this lot in 1916, announcing plans to build his family home on the corner of Ridge Street and Lee Avenue and a modern bungalow for his son, Forrest Eccles, on the adjoining lot to the west. It took several years for the homes to be constructed, but the Simmons were occupying this house by 1925. Tragically, William Simmons did not enjoy it for long. He died after undergoing an operation in San Francisco in July of 1928, and Emma continued to live in their home. She was next door visiting her daughter and son-in-law on the night of March 11, 1930, when they and several other guests were robbed at gunpoint. That story is told in the entry for the Day/Creveling House at 571 Ridge Street.

Emma died in 1931 and the house was sold to Dr. Anthony L. Stadtherr, a Reno physician, who trained as a surgeon at St. Louis University where he was named an all-American football player in 1912. He had moved to Reno in 1915 to work as the Riverside Hotel’s resident physician prior to his United States Naval service in World War I.

The house is of the Colonial Revival style consisting of 3,300 square feet plus a 700-square-foot basement, with four bedrooms and five-and-a-half bathrooms. The home features extensive landscaping on a small 9,954-square-foot lot. Interesting architectural features include arched window treatments, Tuscan columns, a pedimented entry porch, and a classical entrance accentuated by sidelights and a fanlight.

The house still shares a two-car garage with the home built behind it at 571 Ridge Street. Dr. Peter Ames and his wife received the 2016 Residential Preservation Award from the Reno Historical Resources Commission for their restoration of the house and grounds.

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235 Lee Avenue, Reno, NV