Filed Under Industry

Martin Iron Works

An industrial mainstay of East 4th Street pivotal to Reno's construction industry

With its machinery still operating at full tilt, Martin Iron Works is one of the industrial pillars of East 4th Street. This is the second location for the business, which was founded by Martin Schwamb in 1939, just around the corner at 300 Morrill Avenue.

Schwamb had learned the ornamental iron trade in his native Germany, and moved to Reno from Syracuse, New York in 1936. The site at 530 E. 4th Street was developed into a large manufacturing plant first by the Wagner Tank and Manufacturing Company, which had purchased the buildings and machinery of the Provo Foundry and Machinery Company of Provo, Utah in 1944, dismantled them, and reassembled them in their shop. The company was dedicated to the construction of oil tanks, truck bodies, ornamental iron work, and other steel fabrication, for Nevada’s war industries and post-war program.

The site became available after Wagner went out of business in 1950. At that point, Martin Iron Works acquired the property and began to remodel it, moving in sometime in the next year or two. Martin's son, Fred, worked for his father as an estimator, in an office on the second floor that housed detailing and accounting.

A devastating fire in 1962 burned the entire roof off the original A-frame shop building, requiring a complete rebuild of that portion.

Martin Schwamb passed away in 1972, and Bill Granata succeeded him as President. In 1989, the position passed to Piero Bullentini, who had begun his career with Martin Iron Works in 1956, at the young age of 18 as a shop helper and gradually worked his way up through the shop by mastering each aspect of the industry. Piero Bullentini died in 2020, and his children Mario and Patricia now manage various aspects of the operation.

Images

Martin Iron Works
Martin Iron Works Martin Iron Works maintains the firm presence of industry along E. 4th Street, as it has at this location since the early 1950s. Creator: Alicia Barber Date: 2014
Original location
Original location Martin Schwamb founded Martin Iron Works in 1939 at a nearby site, 300 Morrill Avenue, just south of E. 4th Street. The Reno Brewing Company Bottling Plant was constructed to its north the following year. Source: Piero Bullentini
Martin Schwamb
Martin Schwamb Martin Schwamb at his desk in the plant on E. 4th Street, sitting below his favorite landscape painting. Source: Fred Schwamb
Fred Schwamb
Fred Schwamb Fred Schwamb worked for his father, first as a young man in the Morrill Avenue location, and again after the business moved to its current site at 530 E. 4th Street. Source: Fred Schwamb
Sparks yearbook ad, 1960s
Sparks yearbook ad, 1960s Martin Schwamb poses with two Sparks High School students in an advertisement appearing in the school's yearbook, Terminus, in the early 1960s. Source: Sparks Museum and Cultural Center Date: 1960s
Harolds Club construction
Harolds Club construction The company's Dodge Power Wagon helps erect the top floor addition to Harolds Club in 1954. Date: 1954
Aerial view, early 1960s
Aerial view, early 1960s With 4th Street at the bottom of the photo, an aerial view of the Martin Iron Works site shows the original A-frame construction of the main shop building before a fire in 1962 that required the entire section to be rebuilt. Source: Piero Bullentini Date: Early 1960s
Bill Granata
Bill Granata President of the company from 1974 to 1988, Bill Granata was well-known in local politics, serving on the Reno City Council for four years. Source: Piero Bullentini
Piero Bullentini
Piero Bullentini Piero Bullentini began working for Martin Schwamb in 1956 at the age of 18 and became President of Martin Iron Works in 1989. He died in 2020. Source: Piero Bullentini

Location

530 East 4th Street, Reno, NV

Metadata

Alicia Barber, “Martin Iron Works,” Reno Historical, accessed June 14, 2024, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/93.