Wingfield House (site)

Perched above Wingfield Park is the ghost of the home of George Wingfield (1876-1959), Nevada banker and miner. The Wingfield house, once significant enough to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1907 at 219 Court Street and was demolished after a devastating fire in October, 2001.

Wingfield was one of the state's most powerful economic and political figures during the period from 1909 to 1932. He rose from faro dealer to the position of richest man in Nevada in less than five years. While living in the central Nevada town of Goldfield, Wingfield and his partner, George Nixon, established the Goldfield Consolidating Mining Company, which ultimately produced more than $50 million worth of ore. In 1906, the partners established the Nixon National Bank of Reno (later renamed the Reno National Bank), and in 1908, Wingfield moved to Reno, where he became active in politics, banking, ranching, and hotel-keeping. He was influential in developing Reno's gambling and divorce-related tourism industries.

The house was happy for Wingfield. He lived there with his second wife, local girl Roxy Thoma, and their children. As was common for prominent wives of the era, Roxy held all types of social gatherings at the house, including Republican Women’s teas, Red Cross sewing groups during World War II, and lunches and meetings for the Auxiliary to the American Institute of Mining Engineers. The Wingfield house, while lovely, was considered less extravagant than the homes located further west on Court Street. Many a party and several weddings were held on the prominent one-story porch that encircled almost the entire house.

Although Wingfield’s home is gone, his legacy remains visible through the Riverside Hotel he financed, the Reno National Bank building he had constructed, and more. In 1920, he bought the land formerly known as Belle Isle, on an island in view of his house, for $20,000, and immediately donated it to the city, which gratefully named it Wingfield Park in his honor.

Images

George Wingfield, 1910

George Wingfield, 1910

A portrait taken in 1910 captures Wingfield in his mid-thirties, soon after his move to Reno, where he established his banking empire. Image courtesy of Library of Congress View File Details Page

A "Beautiful Home," 1915

A "Beautiful Home," 1915

The Wingfield's house was featured in a special publication, Beautiful Homes of Reno, compiled and published in 1915 by Lew W. Stone and printed by the Nevada State Journal. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

A "Notable Residence," ca. 1920

A "Notable Residence," ca. 1920

The Nevada Newsletter included the Wingfield home in a group of notable residences, circa 1920. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Wingfield house, 1977

Wingfield house, 1977

A view of 219 Court Street in 1977, five years before the house was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. At some point, the tall, narrow windows in what appears to have been a sunroom were replaced with more standard double-hung types and the elaborate arched window to the left of the front door was removed completely, the space covered by shingles. Image courtesy of Nevada Historical Society View File Details Page

Front entrance, 1977

Front entrance, 1977

The front entrance featured a veranda and columns with blended Doric and Tuscan elements. Image courtesy of Nevada Historical Society View File Details Page

Post-fire, 2001

Post-fire, 2001

After a devastating and suspicious fire in 2001, the house was deemed irrecoverable, and was soon demolished. Photo by Marilyn Newton. Image courtesy of Reno Gazette-Journal. View File Details Page

Reward offered

Reward offered

In January 2002 a reward was being offered for information about the fire at the historic Wingfield House. No information ever emerged. Photo by Alicia Barber View File Details Page

Street Address:

219 Court Street, Reno, NV [map]

Cite this Page:

Sharon Honig-Bear, “Wingfield House (site),” Reno Historical, accessed May 24, 2017, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/97.

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