Filed Under Tourism

Morris Hotel

Built for F.C. Savage in 1931, the 40-unit hotel occupied a enviable spot along busy U.S. Highway 40.

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, with shared bathrooms and a telephone on each hall, with buzzers in each individual room to alert residents of an incoming call.

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. In November 2021, Gibson announced that the building had been sold.

Images

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. Source: Nevada Historical Society Date: 1961
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. Source: Nevada State Journal Date: December 10, 1931
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. Source: Reno Evening Gazette Date: April 3, 1941
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. Creator: Alicia Barber Date: 2013
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. Creator: Alicia Barber Date: 2014
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. Creator: Catherine Magee Date: 2011
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. Creator: Mella Rothwell Harmon Date: 2014

Location

400 East 4th Street, Reno, NV

Metadata

Alicia Barber, “Morris Hotel,” Reno Historical, accessed June 14, 2024, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/50.