The elegant Nevada-California-Oregon (NCO) Railroad Depot was constructed in 1910, replacing an earlier depot that had operated on leased land at the corner of Lake and Plaza Streets. The railroad line it served was founded in Reno in 1880 as the Nevada & Oregon Railroad Company, with the intent of connecting the city northward to the Columbia River, transporting both freight and passengers along its narrow gauge tracks. Long backed by the Moran Brothers, a New York banking firm, the railroad joined the existing Central Pacific and Virginia & Truckee (V&T) railroads, enhancing Reno's status as a prominent western junction.
Designed by prominent Nevada architect Frederic DeLongchamps the same year that he designed the Washoe County Court House, the two-story brick depot reflects the eclecticism that early 20th-century architects often employed. Its style combines Italianate bracketed cornices, Mission-style facade elements, Roman arches, and red Spanish roof tiles. The ground floor featured a main waiting room and separate women’s waiting room, with general railroad offices located on the second floor.
The depot was constructed during the NCO’s peak, between 1906 and 1912; by 1914, having reached as far north as Lakeview, Oregon, the railroad began to decline. By 1917, the company was forced to sell 64 miles of the main line and all of its Nevada holdings to the Western Pacific Railroad, and moved its headquarters to Alturas, California. The Western Pacific converted the tracks to standard gauge, using the building as a passenger and freight depot until 1937, and as general offices for the company and a variety of other local businesses for the next 20 years.
In 1958, the building was sold to Thelma and Pete Barengo, who operated it for decades as the general headquarters for the Sierra Wine & Liquor Company, the distribution company the family had founded locally in 1934. The Barengos also constructed a 15,000-square foot concrete warehouse next door, employing a pneumatic tube system to send orders directly from the office to the warehouse’s stock room.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, the building sat vacant for a decade after the Barengos' departure. It gained new ownership in 2013, underwent an extensive renovation, and reopened on New Year's Eve, 2014 as The Depot Craft Brewery Distillery.