Masonic Lodge No. 13/Reno Mercantile (site)

Completed in 1873, the lodge was Reno's oldest commercial building when demolished in 2019.

The Reno Mercantile/Masonic Lodge No. 13 building, at 98 W. Commercial Row, was the oldest standing commercial structure in Reno when it was razed in January 2019. The lodge was chartered by Nevada’s Grand Lodge in Virginia City in 1869, and for the first few years the members met in variety of locales. In keeping with Masonic practice, the group placed the cornerstone of their own building on October 15, 1872. S. F. Hoole supervised construction of the building that housed a grocery and dry goods store on the ground floor and the Masonic Lodge on the top floor. The windows on the second story were filled in to protect the secrecy of the Masons' rituals.

Built at a cost of $11,500, the 34-by-75-foot building was expanded by an additional 25 feet in 1881 by the local builders George Troy and Peter Burke. The commercial business on the first floor provided income for the lodge. The first tenants were James Hagerman and former State Treasurer Jerry Schooling, who marketed groceries, hardware, and crockery. The produce and groceries firm of Gallatin and Folsom took over in 1883. In 1895, Reno Mercantile occupied the space, remaining in business at that location for the next seventy-five years.

As Reno grew in size and importance, Masonic Lodge No. 13 played a greater role in Nevada Masonry. Looking to expand their facilities, the Lodge constructed a new building in 1905 on the northwest corner of Virginia Street next to the newly completed Virginia Street Bridge. In 1906, the Masons vacated the old lodge building. Reno Mercantile continued in business until 1970, after which the space was occupied by Casino Jewelry and Loan, owned by the Mack family, which occupied it until 1985, when they moved to the E.C. Lyons building at Second and N. Center Streets. After that departure, the building reportedly served as storage for Fitzgerald’s Casino (the building that has now been renovated into the Whitney Peak Hotel).

The Reno Mercantile/Masonic Lodge No. 13 building survived two devastating fires in the 1870s, the growth and expansion of downtown, and the recent ReTRAC project that lowered the railroad tracks through town. In October 2018 the building's owners announced that it would be razed in order to make way for a new high-rise extended-stay hotel. The removal was completed in January 2019.

Images

Masonic Lodge, ca. 1872
Masonic Lodge, ca. 1872 The Masonic Lodge, pictured shortly after its completion. Note the Washoe Brewery next door and the filled-in windows all along the second floor. Source: Neal Cobb Date: ca. 1872
Early Commercial Row
Early Commercial Row This early view of the Reno Mercantile and Masonic Lodge No. 13 shows Commercial Row looking eastward. Source: Nevada Historical Society
Hagerman's ad
Hagerman's ad James C. Hagerman moved his business into the first floor of the Masonic Building in January 1873, soon after the building's completion. Selling a variety of goods from groceries to gunpowder, the store had a wagon on hand, prepared to make deliveries at a moment's notice to any part of the city, free of charge. Source: Nevada State Journal Date: April 6, 1874
Reno Mercantile ad
Reno Mercantile ad This advertisement in the Reno Evening Gazette announced the relocation of the Reno Mercantile Company to the Masonic Building in 1907, just after the Masons relocated to their elegant new building on Virginia Street. Source: Reno Evening Gazette Date: April 3, 1907
Prime location
Prime location The building stood in a prime location on the southern side of the railroad tracks, firmly in the heart of Reno's early commercial district. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries
Cameo Jewelry and Loan
Cameo Jewelry and Loan The building was occupied in 1978 by Cameo Jewelry and Loan, which operated on the ground floor until 1985. To its rear (on the south side) was the Sierra Street frontage of the Primadonna Club. Source: Alan Marriage Date: 1978
Upstairs interior of the building
Upstairs interior of the building An interior shot of the upstairs of the Reno Mercantile building for a 360 degree photographic panorama by Howard Goldbaum. Photograph by Scott Gayer. Courtesy of Howard Goldbaum. Source: Howard Goldbaum Creator: Scott Gayer
Venerable building, 2002
Venerable building, 2002 The historic Masonic Lodge/Reno Mercantile building remained standing at the southeast corner of Sierra Street and Commercial Row, vacant and in disrepair, until its demolition in January 2019. Creator: Max Chapman Date: 2002
Post-demolition
Post-demolition The site in 2019 after the building's demolition. To the right is the vacant Old Reno casino and the west wall of the Whitney Peak Hotel. In the background is the Eldorado Resort Casino. Creator: Mike Van Houten Date: 2019

Location

98 West Commercial Row, Reno NV

Metadata

Mella Rothwell Harmon, “Masonic Lodge No. 13/Reno Mercantile (site),” Reno Historical, accessed May 19, 2024, https://renohistorical.org/items/show/85.