Filed Under Businesses

Woolworth's Building

Built by the Mapes family in 1965, the building housed the F.W. Woolworth store until 1997.

The building at the northwest corner of First and Virginia Streets known today as the Woolworth’s building was constructed in 1964-1965 as a direct replacement for the building that formerly stood at the same site, described in a separate entry for the Thoma-Bigelow Building (later, like this one, also known as the Mapes Building). The owners of that property, siblings Charles Mapes and Gloria Mapes Walker, wanted to provide a larger home for their anchor tenant, the F.W. Woolworth store, and also add multiple floors of office and commercial space.

Reno’s first Woolworth’s store had been a small storefront at 136 N. Virginia Street, established in 1912. The company had moved into the Thoma-Bigelow building formerly on this site in 1938. This new seven-story building, completed in the summer of 1965, provided Woolworth’s with 40,000 square feet of space divided among the basement, first, and second floors. Goods were sold on the basement and ground floors, with the ground floor also housing a restaurant originally called the Frontier Room. On the second floor were stock and utility rooms, an employee lounge, and offices. The store’s grand opening was held on July 14, 1965.

The Woolworth's store closed in 1997 when its parent company, F.W. Woolworth, announced that it would close all 400 of its stores nationwide due to operating losses that had totaled $37 million over the past year alone. Reno's other Woolworth's store at Park Lane Mall also closed. This immediately followed the closure of the Virginian Hotel Casino, and added to the sense of decline in the area, where the Mapes and Riverside Hotels had been vacant since the early 1980s.

Images

The Woolworth's Building
The Woolworth's Building The Mapes family constructed a new commercial building on the corner of First and Virginia Streets in part to provide more space for their anchor tenant, the Woolworth's store, which opened on July 14, 1965. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries
Under construction, 1964
Under construction, 1964 A photo of the building under construction in 1964 shows the buildings lining the south side of West First Street at the time, including the Granada movie theater and Lloyd Getchy Shoes. On the right, behind the excavation site is the back of the J.C. Penney building, which faces Sierra Street. Creator: AGC Nevada chapter Date: 1964
Woolworth's grand opening ad, 1965
Woolworth's grand opening ad, 1965 An advertisement in the Reno Evening Gazette announced the grand opening sale for the new Woolworth's store, which opened on July 14, 1965. Source: Reno Evening Gazette Date: July 15, 1965
Woolworth's closure, 1997
Woolworth's closure, 1997 A photograph of the building appeared in the Reno Gazette-Journal in July of 1997 upon the announcement that Woolworth's stores across the country would be closing. Source: Reno Gazette-Journal Creator: Tim Dunn Date: July 18, 1997
The Woolworth's Building in 2013
The Woolworth's Building in 2013 Pictured in 2013, the Woolworth's Building struggled to find a tenant after the store's closure. Creator: Alicia Barber Date: 2013

Location

101 N. Virginia Street, Reno, Nevada

Metadata

Alicia Barber, “Woolworth's Building,” Reno Historical, accessed April 12, 2024, https://renohistorical.org/items/show/255.