Gibbons/McCarran House

The Gibbons/McCarran House, often called the McCarran Mansion, sits prominently on Arlington Avenue and serves as a gateway to a row of fine homes along Court Street. A long-time myth about the house takes us back to Hollywood screen stars and the lure of a Reno divorce.

This elegant Colonial Revival mansion was designed by famed local architect Frederic J. DeLongchamps. It was built in 1913 for Lewis A. Gibbons, a political figure of importance and affluence in Reno and Tonopah. After Gibbons died in the house on February 19th, 1920, Patrick A. McCarran bought the house. McCarran—the same notable that the Las Vegas Airport and McCarran ring road in Reno are named for—was U.S. Senator from Nevada from 1933 to 1954. In his earlier years as a lawyer, he developed a reputation as a successful divorce attorney.

In 1920, “America’s Sweetheart” Mary Pickford arrived in Nevada for a divorce and hired McCarran to shepherd her through the process. Despite rumors, Pickford never owned the house or lived in it, preferring the anonymity of Douglas County for her residence. McCarran purchased this house for $35,000 two months after Mary Pickford's divorce decree, leading to the speculation that the high-profile case had given him the means to afford it.

The two-story plaster house has a river rock foundation and a molded cornice with a Greek key frieze that rests below the roofline. Double Doric columns frame the entrance. The sidelights are framed by pilasters and topped with a segmented pediment. The rear of the house has a large recessed veranda with four pairs of Doric columns and a second story balcony which overlooks the Truckee River below. Two fireplaces in the home are faced with marble from a Tonopah quarry. The house is 4,289 square feet with a 2,152-square-foot finished basement.

McCarran owned the house until 1937, when it was purchased by George A. Campbell, president of the Sierra Pacific Power Company. The building served for a time as an art gallery in the 1950s. It has been beautifully restored and is currently a commercial office space.

Images

The new house, ca. 1915

The new house, ca. 1915

An early view of the Gibbons home, just a few years after its construction. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Prominent neighborhood, ca. 1925

Prominent neighborhood, ca. 1925

The McCarran house, on the right, was surrounded by other spacious, single-family homes, as seen in an article from the Nevada Newsletter about fine homes of Reno, ca. 1925. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

The McCarran family

The McCarran family

Pat and his wife, Martha Harriet, and their daughters Marjorie, Mercy and Noreen are pictured here in 1913, seven years before the family moved into the Gibbons house. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Senator McCarran, ca. 1935

Senator McCarran, ca. 1935

Pat McCarran became a U.S. Senator for Nevada in 1933. This photo is a memento from the papers of George A. Bartlett. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Senator McCarran and his wife, ca. 1936.

Senator McCarran and his wife, ca. 1936.

Pat McCarran and his wife Harriet attend a formal dinner, probably in Washington, D.C., in the mid-1930s, around the time they sold the home on Court Street. Photo by Harris & Ewing. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress View File Details Page

Restored, 2014

Restored, 2014

The restored Gibbons/McCarran House, now a commercial building, occupies a prominent position at the corner of Court Street and Arlington Avenue. Its exterior has changed very little since its construction. Photo by Alicia Barber View File Details Page

Street Address:

401 Court Street, Reno, NV [map]

Cite this Page:

Sharon Honig-Bear, “Gibbons/McCarran House,” Reno Historical, accessed May 24, 2017, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/40.

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