The summer of 1931 was an opportune time for constructing a new hotel in Reno. Just months earlier, the Nevada state legislature had both legalized gambling and shortened the required residency period for divorce-seekers to a scant six weeks, promising an influx of tourists and temporary residents.
In this auspicious economic climate, Frank Charles Savage, recently retired from his family’s successful plumbing business, Savage & Son, financed the construction of this three-story brick building at 400 E. 4th Street. On the top two floors, each of its 40 hotel rooms featured large windows, with shared bathrooms and a telephone on each hall, with buzzers in each individual room to alert residents of an incoming call.
Located along the Lincoln Highway with the Southern Pacific Railroad depot just three blocks to the west and the Western Pacific (formerly Nevada-California-Oregon) depot practically across the street, this truly was a prime location.
Savage leased the hotel operations to a series of managers who often changed the hotel’s name as they took over the business. It opened as the Bonney Hotel, named for manager Clara Bonney, who tragically died of pneumonia after just one month. In subsequent years, the hotel was known as the Bonnie Blue, the Hotel Tennant, and the Del Paso. The ground floor retail space has housed a remarkable variety of businesses, including a tire store, an elegant clothing boutique, a popular flower shop, and a boxing gym.
Following Savage’s death in 1935, his widow sold the building, which was sold again in 1949 to general contractor E.F. Morris, who died in a tragic automobile accident just months later. Within a few years, the building, which retained his name, was being leased by the Cowley family, who eventually purchased it and ran the Morris as a residency hotel for decades, keeping the interior largely unchanged. In 2013, the building was purchased by Jim Gibson, extensively renovated and updated, and renamed the Morris Burner Hotel. In November 2021, Gibson announced that the building had been sold.