Sacred Landmarks

From the beginning, Reno was a crossroads of cultures, and its religious landscape was accordingly diverse. Mainstream denominations with buildings in the original townsite included the Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, and Catholics. Around the turn of the twentieth century, even more churches and a synagogue were constructed, reflecting Reno’s establishment as a solid little metropolis. The number and diversity of Reno's congregations of faith was often touted as a response to those who characterized Reno as a sinful town in the early 20th century.

As the century progressed, some earlier houses of worship were replaced by permanent structures, many designed by prominent local and even nationally known architects. As in most American cities, following the end of World War II and through the subsequent decades, Reno’s permanent population began to shift toward the ever-expanding suburbs. Following the residents who filled the housing subdivisions were many of the area's churches and schools. And yet, several notable historic churches remain in the downtown area and are included in the Sacred Landmarks tour.

First United Methodist Church

Completed in 1926, the First United Methodist Church is one of the oldest remaining churches in Reno. The Methodist Church congregation was established early in Reno's history in 1868, organized by Reverend Thomas McGrath. The third Methodist…

St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral

There has been a Catholic presence in Nevada since its earliest days. The first Catholic church was built by Rev. Father Hugh P. Gallagher in Virginia City in 1860, during the heyday of the Comstock Lode. Other churches followed as mining boomtowns…

Trinity Episcopal Church

Trinity Episcopal Church was built over the course of 25 years bracketing the Great Depression and World War II. The congregation’s history in Reno dates to 1870. The first services were held in a schoolhouse at Sierra and Second streets, but by…

First Church of Christ, Scientist

In a town traditionally known for “sinful” institutions, it should not go unnoticed that between 1870 and 1950, downtown Reno had a total of 24 churches. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, which began with a congregation of just four members,…

Bethel AME Church

The Bethel AME Church was a religious, social and political center of the African American community, initially for black settlers in the 1910s, and later for local civil rights activists during the 1960s. From its inception in 1907, Bethel AME has…