What is now a vacant lot at 543 Court Street was once a beautiful residence overlooking the river. Its story began in 1906, when Robert Grimmon purchased five acres from Senator Francis G. Newlands, just east of the Newlands House. The large tract of land extended from Court Street all the way down to the Truckee River, and Grimmon divided it into two tiers to be sold for residences. Just a few months later, he sold thirteen lots of the lower portion, adjacent to the river, to the City of Reno for use as a public park.
Grimmon was for many years the superintendent of the Orphan’s Home in Carson City, and at the time of the property purchase, served as a U.S. Marshal. Construction of his Richardsonian Romanesque-style house, at the top of the bluff, got underway in 1907, at the same time that the nearby Nixon Mansion and Roy House were being built. In 1909, Grimmon stepped down as a Federal Marshall, and in 1910, he sold the house, called at the time “one of Reno’s most beautiful residences,” to Frank M. Lee, Vice President of the Nixon National Bank. Lee Avenue appears to have been created and named for the Lee family during their period of residence in the house.
Lee died in 1918, and his wife Ada moved away. The house was sold in 1921 to Mrs. Nellie C. Aiken, the wealthy widow of a Pittsburgh associate of Andrew Carnegie. Aiken had moved to Reno with her adult daughter, Nellie Aiken Graver, apparently to establish residency for Graver’s divorce, which was granted the following July. Nellie C. Aiken died in 1928, leaving her entire $2 million estate to her daughter, Nellie Graver, who lived in the home with a full array of servants until her own death in 1941.
Retired financier and Russian native William Zimdin bought the house in 1942 and sold it in 1947 to Marvin B. Humphrey. In 1956, the house was purchased by the Catholic Diocese of Reno for use as a Dominican brothers monastery. It was later sold to a developer who tore it down in 1964 to make way for “Court Towers,” a 13-story condominium project that was never constructed. It has remained a vacant lot ever since.