NoeHill Travels in the American West: Nevada

National Register of Historic Places in Washoe County

National Register #99000267: Frey Ranch in Reno 15 March 2016
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The Women
Passing the time at a dude ranch in Reno
National Register #99000267
Frey Ranch
1140 West Peckham Lane

The Frey Ranch, established circa 1870, originally encompassed 240 acres south of Reno. When it was listed on the National Register in 1999, the landholding had been reduced to less than one acre.

Three historic buildings survive: the main ranch house, the cookhouse/bunkhouse, and the creamery/meathouse. The buildings sit atop a geothermal field which provides hot water and space heat by way of artesian wells.

The main ranch house is an excellent example of Folk Victorian architecture.

During the first decade of the 20th century, Reno had established itself as a divorce colony because of its liberal divorce laws. In 1927, the divorce laws were made even more liberal, and Reno won the title of Divorce Mecca of the World.

In 1931, the Nevada Legislature responded to the disastrous effects of the Great Depression by passing an even more liberal divorce law which reduced the waiting period from three months to six weeks. It was largely the divorce trade that helped Reno through the Great Depression.

The owners of the Frey Ranch quickly saw the efficacy of participating in the trade. In the late 1920s, the ranch was turned into a dude ranch catering to divorce seekers.

Source: Adapted from the NRHP nomination form submitted in 1999.

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