A Century Ago on First Street



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I started off my summer with a road trip from Seattle to Chicago and featured my favorite roadside motel in July. So now that it’s Labor Day and summer is winding down, it’s only fitting to share this little gas station I stopped to visit on my trip to Reno/Tahoe last week.

Rocovits’ Gas Station sits at the corner of Winter and First Streets in Reno, Nevada, just north of the Truckee River. It stands in the center of Powning’s Addition, a historic Reno neighborhood laid out by Christopher Columbus Powning in the 1880s. The neighborhood features a variety of buildings today including a number of Craftsmen bungalows from the 1910s-40s, the McKinley Park School, the Lear Theater, and a number of commercial buildings meant to serve customers from the Lincoln Highway.

With an approximate construction date of 1914, the Rocovits’ Gas Station is likely Reno’s oldest existing gas station. Between 1962 and 1987, the building served as a foreign auto repairs shop and since 1987 it has operated as the Borgward Garage and Museum. Today Winter and First Streets are relatively quiet. I-80 was put in a dozen blocks to the north, essentially replacing the Lincoln Highway through Reno. But for those few passersby who notice the curious building shape and the iconic gas pumps in front, the Rocovits’ Gas Station reminds of another era on First Street.

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Sources and Further Reading:

The Historic Reno Preservation Society put out a nice book called A Walk Through Time: the Historic Pownings Addition in Reno, Nevada.

This gas station is noted on the Roadside Architecture page featuring Nevada gas stations.

I’ve written pieces about several buildings in this neighborhood. Among them: McKinley Park School, the Lear Theater, and the Loomis Manor Apartments. (Also in Powning’s Addition? My favorite place for breakfast in Reno, Daughter’s.)

Interested in historic gas stations? The Preservation in Mississippi blog does a Friday series on historic gas stations. Check out their most recent post, Friday is a Gas: Ducks vs Decorated Sheds.

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7 thoughts on “A Century Ago on First Street

  1. Susie, thank you so much for the wonderful photos of the gas station plus background info and links to sources. I have added several of these links to my article about a roadside restaurant on the “wild western edge” of the Wedgwood neighborhood in Seattle.


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