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Reno Walking Tour - South of the Truckee River
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From 1890 until his death, this large shingle-style house was the home of Francis Griffith Newlands (1849-1917), Congressman (1892-1903) and Senator (1903-1917) of Nevada. Newlands was the author of the Reclamation Act of 1902, which placed the Federal government in the irrigation business, opening up vast areas of the West to farming.

  • Front view of the larger home that now serves as a private residence.

The residence of Francis G. Newlands, U.S. Congressman 1893-1903, and U.S. Senator 1903-1917, was built from 1889 to1890, with the front wing and arbor added at a later unknown date, but sometime before 1908. The Shingle style mansion contains numerous Queen Anne touches, including a random horizontal plan with wings, bays and porches, and the steep gable roof. Francis Newlands came to Nevada in 1888 to manage the interests of William Sharon, one of the Comstock silver barons. Newlands was elected to the House of Representatives in 1892, and in 1903 he was elected to the Senate. He served as a senator until his death in 1917.

Newlands was the primary author of the Reclamation Act of 1902. The Reclamation Act sought to promote agriculture in the arid west through the construction of large-scale irrigation projects. The first project under the Reclamation Act was the Newlands Irrigation Project in Nevada's Lahontan Valley. After Newland's death, George Thatcher, a prominent local attorney, purchased the home in 1920. Thatcher was a well-known and successful divorce lawyer, who occasionally let his prominent clients reside in his home. This was the case when Woolworth dime store heiress Barbara Hutton came to Reno for a divorce in 1935.

Because of Newlands's prominence in politics, water and reclamation projects in the west, his property was designated a National Historic Landmark, one of just six in Nevada. Newlands's mansion was the first residence built along the bluff overlooking the Truckee River, and the area grew into a fashionable neighborhood known as Newlands Heights. Today it contains many historic mansions and homes. The majority of the residences were erected between 1920 and 1940, and the diversity of architectural styles range from large Colonial Revival and French Chateau mansions to more modest Spanish Colonial Revival and Craftsman bungalows.