The Colonial Apartments, located at the corner of W. First and West Streets, was built in 1907 by partners Charles E. Clough and George Crosby. In the first decade of the twentieth century, the temporary housing needs of Reno's divorce colony prompted the construction of several modern apartment houses. The Colonial Apartments, which cost more than $60,000 to build, was the first large apartment building in Reno that advertised accommodations to travelers and long-term residents alike. The building contained 160 rooms divided into forty-eight furnished apartments. It was said to be "strictly modern in every particular...built according to the plans of modern apartment houses in Los Angeles." Built in the Colonial Revival style of architecture, the new building featured classic revival elements such as columns, brick and stone materials, and brackets. Inside, it boasted hardwood floors in each apartment, "new wall beds," marble steps and columns, and an elevator.
Born in 1857, Charles Elmer Clough, the builder, came to Nevada by way of Wisconsin. He was an ambitious man who made his name in western Nevada. In addition to construction projects, Clough was responsible for organizing Reno's first power company and water system. The success of his various projects led him to become one of the founders and eventually the president of the Reno Press Brick Company, an association that undoubtedly paved the way for his success as a contractor in the Reno area. Some of Clough's other building projects included the Masonic Temple, the Gray Reid Wright department store, and several buildings on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. Upon his death in March of 1932, he was the last founder of the Reno Press Brick Company to pass away. His property was left to his family members.
In the 1950s, the apartments began appealing more to elderly tenants. The location and quaint rooms attracted retired seniors who desired more simplistic living arrangements. In 1972, it was purchased by sisters Anna and Ethel Ross, who renamed the building the Ross Apartments. Christened the Westlyn Apartments upon its sale by Roberta Ross in 2017, the building continues to operate as apartments. Its historic look both inside and out, and location in the heart of downtown near the Truckee River, still make it a desirable address.