Morris Hotel

The summer of 1931 was an opportune time for constructing a new hotel in Reno. Just months earlier, the Nevada state legislature had both legalized gambling and shortened the required residency period for divorce-seekers to a scant six weeks, promising an influx of tourists and temporary residents.

In this auspicious economic climate, Frank Charles Savage, recently retired from his family’s successful plumbing business, Savage & Son, financed the construction of this three-story brick building at 400 E. 4th Street. On the top two floors, each of its 40 hotel rooms featured large windows and individual telephones, with shared bathrooms on each hall. Located along the Lincoln Highway with the Southern Pacific Railroad depot just three blocks to the west and the Western Pacific (formerly Nevada-California-Oregon) depot practically across the street, this truly was a prime location.

Savage leased the hotel operations to a series of managers who often changed the hotel’s name as they took over the business. It opened as the Bonney Hotel, named for manager Clara Bonney, who tragically died of pneumonia after just one month. In subsequent years, the hotel was known as the Bonnie Blue, the Hotel Tennant, and the Del Paso. The ground floor retail space has housed a remarkable variety of businesses, including a tire store, an elegant clothing boutique, a popular flower shop, and a boxing gym.

Following Savage’s death in 1935, his widow sold the building, which was sold again in 1949 to general contractor E.F. Morris, who died in a tragic automobile accident just months later. Within a few years, the building, which retained his name, was being leased by the Cowley family, who eventually purchased it and ran the Morris as a residency hotel for decades, keeping the interior largely unchanged. In 2013, the building was purchased by Jim Gibson, extensively renovated and updated, and renamed the Morris Burner Hotel.

Images

Bonney Hotel, 1931

Bonney Hotel, 1931

The new Bonney Hotel opened October 24, 1931. This advertisement appeared in December, one month after the death of the hotel's first manager, Clara Bonney. Image courtesy of Nevada State Journal View File Details Page

Dress shop, 1941

Dress shop, 1941

Dorothy Romaine's dress shop opened in February 1941 on the ground floor of the hotel, then known as the Del Paso. Photo courtesy of Reno Evening Gazette View File Details Page

Morris Hotel, 1961

Morris Hotel, 1961

In 1961, commercial spaces on the ground floor of the Morris Hotel building included the Harris Appliance Service Center. Image courtesy of Nevada Historical Society View File Details Page

Morris Hotel lobby, 2013

Morris Hotel lobby, 2013

The lobby of the Morris Hotel changed very little between the 1950s and 2013. In 1993, it was featured in the motion picture Cobb, starring Tommy Lee Jones. Photo by Alicia Barber View File Details Page

Ceiling detail

Ceiling detail

The pressed tin ceiling and light fixture in the front lobby, captured here in 2014, evoke the ornate glamour of the Victorian era. Photo by Alicia Barber View File Details Page

Morris Hotel, 2011

Morris Hotel, 2011

Immediately adjacent to the railroad on the east side of downtown Reno, the Morris Hotel building has been a fixture on E. 4th Street for more than eight decades. Photo by Catherine Magee View File Details Page

Neon sign, 2014

Neon sign, 2014

The neon sign of the Morris Hotel was recently modified to reflect its new status as the Morris Burner Hotel. Photo by Mella Harmon View File Details Page

Street Address:

400 East 4th Street, Reno, NV [map]

Cite this Page:

Alicia Barber, “Morris Hotel,” Reno Historical, accessed July 25, 2017, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/50.
Tour navigation:  Previous | Tour Info | Next

Share this Story