Reno’s longest-running newspaper, the Nevada State Journal, began publication in 1870 in a building located on Virginia Street between First and Second. In 1876, the inaugural year of its rival paper, the Reno Evening Gazette, the Journal moved into a new two-story brick building, now designated 26 W. Second Street. In 1983, the two papers would merge to form the Reno-Gazette Journal, which still operates today.
The Journal Building, which includes the one-story storefront on its west side, was widely praised as a credit to the town upon its construction. It housed a number of other tenants along with the publishing operations, which remained on the building’s second floor until 1903, when the Journal moved to East Second Street.
By 1896, the ground floor was occupied by Emile Harris, a machinist who had moved to Reno from Gold Hill to open a shop selling machine parts, firearms, and an increasingly popular commodity, bicycles, which he also repaired. Loder & Spendler’s “Palace of Sweets” beckoned passersby with ice cream, soft drinks, and candy in the years prior to 1900. In 1902, the National Market moved in, offering “fresh and salt meats,” including sausage handcrafted on site. The market remained in place until 1929, followed by a series of cafés including Vincent’s and the Rainbow.
At some point, the building came into the hands of Pat McCarran, U.S. Senator for Nevada from 1933 to 1954. In 1934, he sold it to Charles Meyer, a former Virginia City mining man long connected with Reno’s famous Waldorf Café. Meyer remodeled the building considerably, opening a bar and merchants’ lunch counter called Meyer’s New Deal Bar and Café.
Since then, the building has housed a number of restaurants, lounges, and bars. In 1940, Gene Hinkel turned the space into the West Second Street Café and Bar. Later, it was known as Blondy’s (named for owner Myron Wilson “Blondy” Moore), and after that, the Merry-Go-Round Lounge, featuring an actual carousel in the seating area, possibly at the peril of individuals partaking too deeply of the lounge’s liquid refreshments.
The building has changed considerably since its construction more than 130 years ago, with the addition of a modern façade and repositioned windows. And yet it still evokes its lengthy heritage, with its vintage brick walls, excavated basement, and evidence of what appears to be an old wooden sidewalk or flooring visible on either side of the front entrance.