Mella Harmon

Second Empire Revival Style Architecture in Nevada

The rise of France's Second Empire, established by Louis Napoleon III in 1852, became associated with an architectural style that first appeared in an extension of the Louvre at the beginning of the new emperor's reign in France. Whereas the Italianate style, from which Second Empire borrowed much of its massing and details, was part of the Picturesque movement, the Second Empire style was considered thoroughly modern. Its defining feature was the Mansard roof, generally pierced with dormers, named after seventeenth-century French architect Francois Mansart.

Reno: Twentieth-Century Divorce Capital

For more than half of the twentieth century, Reno was Nevada's sin city and the divorce capital of the world. Journalists and gossip columnists called it the "Great Divide," a destination for divorce seekers who wanted to take "the cure," get "Reno-vated," and according to legend, throw their wedding rings into the Truckee River from the Virginia Street "Bridge of Sighs." A 1934 article on Nevada's divorce law in Fortune Magazine offered this description of the town: "Reno lies in Nevada's western corner, ten miles from California.

Reno and Transportation in the West

From the beginning, transportation to and from the Truckee Meadows has been a significant theme in the history of Reno. The emigrant trails, stage roads, the Pony Express, and the railroad have all served to bring people and goods through the region. The transcontinental railroad, coming through the area in 1868, represented the most important event in the sputtering creation of Reno.

Reno and the African American Divorce Trade: Two Case Studies

From 1906 until the late 1960s, Reno, Nevada was known as the "Divorce Capital of the World." Before the modern age of no-fault divorce, legal dissolution of marriage could take years, or it was simply not allowed. Early in the twentieth century, a number of states competed for the nation's migratory divorce trade and the economic opportunities found in offering relatively quick divorces. Lenient divorce laws were usually centered on a residency requirement and allowable grounds for divorce.


When the first Euro-Americans passed through in the 1840s, Washoe and Paiute peoples inhabited the land along the Truckee River.

Neoclassical Style Architecture in Nevada

A revival of interest in classical models of architecture dates from the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893. The neoclassical style came into vogue during the last decade of the nineteenth century and retained its popularity through the first half of the twentieth century.

Italianate Style Architecture in Nevada

The Italianate style drew its inspiration from informal Italian villas. It began in England as part of the Picturesque movement, which was a reaction to the formal classical ideals in art and architecture. In America, the style was popularized by architectural pattern books.

Greek Revival Style Architecture in Nevada

In recognition of the legacy of democracy the United States inherited from the ancient world, classical architecture repeatedly became an inspiration for design in the American Republic. Architectural historians refer to one of the earliest phases of this borrowing as Greek Revival, with eighteenth-century roots and archaeological inspiration. The style was spread by carpenter's guides and pattern books, and its greatest popularity was between 1820 and 1860. Early settlers built Greek Revival houses throughout northern Nevada during the 1850s and 60s, and many survive.

Egyptian Revival Style Architecture in Nevada

Internationally, the first period of Egyptian Revival architecture sprang from Napoleon's Egyptian campaign of 1798-1799. During the early nineteenth century, there was widespread fascination with all things Egyptian. Motifs from that culture occasionally figured into building design, but the style remained an oddity until it fell out of fashion in the 1840s.

Carson City Mint

The Carson City Mint was one of only seven federal mints constructed in the United States. An 1863 Act of Congress established it as a branch mint, but the Civil War and congressional appropriations delayed its construction until 1867. Treasury Department architect A. B. Mullett designed the building. Workers completed the mint in 1869 and struck its first coin in 1870. In 1874, it was awarded full status as a United States Mint along with facilities in San Francisco and New Orleans under the administration of the original U.S. Mint in Philadelphia.


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