NoeHill Travels in the American West: Nevada

National Register of Historic Places in Washoe County

National Register #79001466: Alamo Ranch House 15 March 2016
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National Register #79001466
Alamo Ranch House
20205 South Virginia Street
Year 1887

The Alamo Ranch House was the home of one of Nevada's most beloved governors, John Sparks.

Sparks bought 2,500 acres of undeveloped land in 1887 and named it The Alamo. (Although born in Mississippi, Sparks spent his younger years in Texas and had high regard for the defenders of the Alamo.) He immediately built this house near one of the busiest crossroads of pioneer Nevada.

The house included features commonly found in ranch houses of this period: French doors, a bay window, a front porch and an asymmetrical facade. Architectural elements were derived from the popular Classical Revival and Gothic Revival styles. The result was a building rich in decorative detail, far more elaborate than the common ranch house.

Sparks was reportedly fond of entertaining. Alamo Ranch was the political and social center of Washoe Valley for many years.

In the mid 1890s, Sparks imported Hereford cattle from England. These were the first of that breed brought into Nevada, a breed that is now the backbone of the state's large cattle industry.

In 1911, the property was purchased by William H. Moffat, a cattle rancher with large holdings in both Nevada and California, widely known throughout the west for his Moffats Manteca Fed Beef.

In 1962, the property was sold to Lincoln Fitzgerald, a Reno casino and hotel owner.

By 1978, the size of the property had been reduced to fewer than fifteen acres. Raul and Leslie Hernandez bought the property and moved the house and water tower to a new site to insure their preservation.

Source: Adapted from the NRHP Nomination Form submitted in 1979.

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