The Riverside History
The City of Reno began on the very spot where the Riverside building stands. In 1859,
Charles Fuller decided this location was a perfect place to set up a business and build a new
life for himself. He constructed a toll bridge over the Truckee River, and in 1860 he built a
hotel on the south bank. This business catered to fortune hunters from the east, coming
to the Sierra to strike it rich in gold and solver. This embryonic business was sold to Myron
Lake in 1861, and the place became known as Lake’s Crossing. The growing settlement was
named Reno in 1868, after a Union General in the Civil War. Lake rebuilt his structure in
1870 after a fire, and named the building Lake House. In 1888 it was renamed again, this time as our familiar Riverside Hotel. In the first few years of the new century, the new owner and manager Harry Gosse gradually replaced the old wooden structure with a new brick building. The new building opened in 1906 and retained the name and the popularity of its ancestor. However,fire again again in 11922, destroying the structure.
George Winfield purchased the property in 1924 and hired notable Nevada architect Frederic J
DeLongchamps to design the new building. The six-story, red brick, Period Revival structure with terra cotta decoration in the Gothic style is a departure from DeLongchamps’ reputation for formal, neoclassical designs.
The new building opened in 1927 and soon catered to prospective divorcees who took advantage of the liberal divorce law Wingfield pushed through the legislature in 1926. After residing in Nevada(preferably the Riverside Hotel) for three months, one could step next door to the Washoe County courthouse to end an unhappy union and begin a new life. After a divorce, tradition called for women to throw their wedding rings into the Truckee River from the Virginia Street bridge, a rare act of returning valuable minerals to Nevada soil.
As Reno’s reputation and population grew, the Riverside was at the center of it all. A new west wing and swimming pool were added in 1950. The hotel went through a series of owners over the next 36 years, including Jesse Beck and Pick Hobson, until closing in December , 1986, leaving 280 employers without jobs.
In 1997, Sierra Arts approached Artspace Projects, Inc to rehabilitate the Riverside Hotel as artist live/work spaces. Later, after city approval and necessary funding, Oliver Mc Millian and Artspace Projects became partners in the development
of the project. Two years later, Sierra Arts and Artspace Projects become partners in the ownership of the Riverside Hotel after developer DDR Oliver McMillan resolved its contract on the building with the city of Reno.
The following year construction began the rehabilitation of the Riverside Hotel into the Riverside Artist Lofts and was completed in October of 2000. In 2001, construction began on the Sierra Arts Gallery, office spaced commercial retail spaces in the Riverside. Fifteen years later, the Riverside reopens to the public in October of 2001.
The Riverside Artist Lofts is on the National Register of Historic places.