Martha Wingfield House

The Southside Addition was platted in 1902, a year prior to the construction of the Southside School located on the block bounded by Center and Sinclair Streets, and Stewart and Liberty. The new residential area south of it formed a wedge shape running east from Virginia Street to Holcomb, and extending four blocks southward from Moran Street. In the years to follow, the neighborhood slowly filled with bungalows and other comfortable homes. Many were Craftsman bungalows, a style that was experiencing widespread popularity in the U.S. during the early years of the twentieth century.

This Craftsman bungalow at 735 S. Center Street was built in 1909 for Henry F. Alps, head of the Reno station of the U.S. Weather Bureau, but his family lived here for less than a year. From 1911 to 1940 it was the home of Martha Matilda Wingfield. Born in Arkansas in 1848, Martha Matilda Wingfield moved to the neighborhood to live near her son, George. He had become a resident of Reno in 1909 after making a fortune in the central Nevada mining town of Goldfield. Together with his partner, George Nixon, Wingfield gained ownership of a large number of banks, and would eventually become known as the “Emperor of Nevada” for his extraordinary economic and political influence.

Martha's husband, Thomas, had died in San Francisco in 1906, and prior to her move to Reno, Martha had been living in the Auburn area with her daughter, Mary, whose husband was a farmer. Her move to Reno may have been precipitated by the birth of son George’s first child, Jean, in February of 1912. Once in Reno, the new grandmother became active in many local organizations, including the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), the local chapter of the American Red Cross, and the Order of the Eastern Star. The Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Church and the WCTU both met frequently in her home.

Martha Wingfield lived in the house for 28 years, until her death in 1940 at age 91. In the years to follow, the house was converted to commercial purposes and its new owners constructed additions on the south and west sides. In 1953, it became the Modern Music Center, the precursor of Maytan Music. With the construction of a new building at the corner of Cheney and South Center Streets in 1979, ownership of the Martha Wingfield House transferred to the Maytans' contractor, Wilfred F. "Duke" Morin, who ran his construction business and other ventures out of the house for several decades.

Upon his retirement, Morin’s daughter, Renee Lauderback, turned the house into the Mountain Music Parlor, a combination performance venue, music shop, and instructional space dedicated to traditional American music.

Images

Audio

An unexpected visitor
In a 2015 interview, Duke Morin, who operated a business in the Martha Wingfield House for decades, recalls the day when Martha's grandson, George Wingfield, Jr., unexpectedly stopped by.
View File Record

Map

735 South Center Street, Reno, NV