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Commentary

As part of a community effort to halt the demolition of the historic block of Center and Lake streets south of the University of Nevada, Reno, the Historic Reno Preservation Society and other groups launched a campaign to let the public express their concerns — garnering more than 2,000 signatures in one week.

The campaign asks for UNR President Marc Johnson and the Nevada Board of Regents to “stop the needless destruction and allow time to formulate a workable plan for preserving as many of the houses as possible.”

UNR is moving toward demolition of 10 of the 12 houses on the block in order to prepare the area for new construction. The block is on Center Street, between Eighth and Ninth Streets, just south of the UNR campus. The six houses on the west side of Center Street comprise Reno’s last remaining intact block of 19th century residences.

The group collected the following reactions from the community:

Former Nevada Governor and U.S. Senator Richard Bryan

The support for historic preservation, evident in this petition and other community initiatives to save the Center and Lake street homes, shows that Reno and citizens around the Silver State care about their past. My alma mater has done much to preserve many of the historic buildings on its campus. I hope the university can work with preservationists toward an amicable conclusion that both preserves our history and helps the university grow in the 21st century.

Reno City Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus

Humans must be able to sense the city patterns and footsteps of those who walked before them in place, and Reno has few of these settings. If the walls and Evans Park are massed in between the freeway and these larger contemporary buildings, the UNR quad area will be an artifact within a sprawling campus lacking in context. Additionally, the buildings to be razed have architectural value that can never be replicated.

Melinda Gustin, Nevada Advisor, National Trust for Historic Preservation

Incorporating historic structures has been a successful model for expansion at numerous universities throughout the country. The University of Nevada, Reno’s North Center Street historic homes are directly visible from Interstate 80, and could very easily become a hallmark of this Land Grant institution; it simply takes vision, and a willingness to develop a Campus Preservation Plan, which is consistent with the City of Reno’s Master Historic Plan.

UNLV Professor of History, Preserve Nevada Director Michael Green

Reno has a long history of cherishing its history, and the university has a long history of promoting its history. I cannot believe that both the community at large and the university in particular would so cavalierly agree to the demolition of these important houses, or that the community and university are willing to tolerate the efforts that have been made to promote their demolition.

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Additional information is available at historicreno.org or by calling 775-560-0602.

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