Filed Under Businesses

Hughes/Truckee Lane Building

The modern forties-era building faced away from the river toward Reno's business district.

The story of what is now known as the Truckee Lane Building begins with the construction of the Hughes-Porter building in 1941. This part of town had long been a peaceful residential area filled with churches, including the First United Methodist Church directly across the street. A cluster of wood-frame houses fronted the south side of West First Street, backed by an irrigation ditch, a fence, and a rough wagon road that ran alongside the river.

Robert Evans Hughes bought the prime riverfront property from the estate of John A. Fulton, former director of the Mackay School of Mines and son of a founding Reno family that had owned a great deal of downtown real estate. A native of Wales, Hughes was a former Proctor and Gamble executive who had moved to Reno in the late 1930s. His daughter, C. Pauline Hughes, married Howard Porter, who also invested in the project.

The original Hughes-Porter building, located at the foot of West Street, was a two-story structure with six storefronts on the ground level and offices on the second floor. In 1946, Hughes hired Blanchard, Maher and Lockard, an architecture firm with its main offices in San Francisco, to design a two-part addition, which is what remains standing today. Immediately adjoining the Hughes-Porter building, a new three-story section, completed in 1947, added two storefronts to the ground floor and two floors of office space above. The four-story section west of that featured two more storefronts plus twelve apartments on its top three floors.

The extended building incorporates elements of the International Style of architecture, with its rectilinear form and horizontal bands of window openings. It was a popular commercial address for the next few decades, with tenants including a chiropractor, a hypnotist, attorneys, a florist, a secretarial service, a beauty shop, insurance offices, and the architectural firm of Lockard (one of the addition's designers, who had moved to Reno) and Casazza.

In 1976, the City of Reno acquired the older section of the building, and the following year demolished it as part of a $2 million Truckee River Beautification Program aimed at reversing Reno’s longstanding tendency to turn its back on the river. The site was to be used for parking during the construction of neighboring West Street Plaza (also known as Brick Park), and then sold to construct a line of river-facing shops and boutiques.

Images

A riverfront view
A riverfront view Workers move furniture from the rear of the building to Truckee Lane in the 1950s. Across the river can be seen the Riverside Hotel's 1954 addition, which doubled its number of rooms. Source: Nevada Historical Society Date: 1950s
New building
New building In October 1941, the new Hughes-Porter building transformed a longstanding residential stretch into a commercial block. Source: Reno Evening Gazette Date: October 23, 1941
1946 addition
1946 addition An architect's rendering published in the local newspaper depicts the new two-part addition, to be known as the Hughes Building. Source: Reno Evening Gazette Date: March 15, 1946
1950 flood
1950 flood A major flood in 1950 covered downtown Reno with several feet of water. Looking southward toward the original Hughes-Porter building, this view shows the First United Methodist Church on the right and the sign of the Marguerite Shop, a popular gift and furnishings store, on the building's east side. Source: Neal Cobb Date: 1950
1950 flood from Roff Way
1950 flood from Roff Way A photo by Roy Curtis taken from Roff Way, just to the north, shows the west end of the Hughes building during the 1950 flood. In the foreground is the Crider Building, constructed in 1936. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1950
First Street at midcentury
First Street at midcentury Looking eastward on First Street, the Hughes-Porter building can be seen on the right. Tenants at the time included the Durkee Travel Bureau. Straight ahead is the Mapes Hotel. To the left is the Colonial Apartments building. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada Libraries Date: ca. 1950
White Lace and Promises
White Lace and Promises The popular riverfront wedding chapel was housed on the building's lower level for many years. Creator: Donnelyn Curtis
A modern view
A modern view A photograph of the building's east side shows a line of demarcation at the junction between the second and third floors, indicating where the original Hughes-Porter building was once attached. Creator: Alicia Barber Date: 2014

Location

252 West 1st Street, Reno, NV

Metadata

Alicia Barber, “Hughes/Truckee Lane Building,” Reno Historical, accessed May 19, 2024, https://renohistorical.org/items/show/102.