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The History of the Washoe Club

The Washoe Club opened its quarters for business on June 1, 1875, and according to reports in the press, applications for membership came in rapidly, but little did anyone realize that the Club was already at its zenith. Within less than five months the palatial club rooms were consumed by the flames that destroyed much of Virginia City on October 26, 1875, and members fell behind in paying assessments on their membership stock.

Faced with the need to find a new home for the Club and the delinquency of assessment, officers of the Washoe Club ordered on December 10, 1875 that all delinquent shares be offered at public sale on February 10, 1876, on the site of Club rooms on “B” Street.

Among the delinquent members were these prominent men in Nevada history: Rollin M. Daggett, editor of the Enterprise, attorney Charles DeLong, Dennis Driscoll, publisher of the Enterprise, U.S. Senator John P. Jones, J.H. Kinkead, who later became governor of Nevada; U.S. Senator William M. Stewart, and Henry M. Yerington, Virginia & Truckee Railroad magnate.

The new year, 1876, promised to be a prosperous one for the disarrayed Club. A meeting held in early March saw the election of new trustees and the adoption of a resolution to sell the Club’s lot on “B” Street and rent Club rooms elsewhere rather than construct a new building following the disastrous fire. The resolution noted, “This will be done as soon as practicable.”

Another six months passed before the new Club rooms would be ready for occupancy. The Territorial Enterprise of September 3, 1876, said the new quarters “. . . are more elegant than those on “B” Street.”

The report continued:

. . .The Washoe Club rooms in the Douglas block are now nearly completed and more elegant than those on “B” Street which were consumed by the great conflagration of last October. They are also more conveniently located, being within easy access of both “C” and “B” Streets, and in the busiest part of the city. They comprise, in all, eight apartments, all of which are fitted up with elegance and taste. They are reached by a flight of stairs from “C” Street and also by steps from “B”.

The following is a list of the officers of the Club: J.H. Kinkead, President; George A. King, Secretary and Treasurer; Trustees, C.E. DeLong, M.N. Stone, E.A. Schultz, S.T. Curtis, J.B. Overton, George H. King, John H. Kinkead, Henry Rolfe, E.B. Dorsey, Thomas H. Ralston and Jasper Babcock. There are over 100 active members of the Club.

The reading-room fronts on C Street and is lighted by four large windows of French plate glass. The apartment is 30×22 feet. The floor is covered by an Axminster carpet of the thickest and finest make and most elegant pattern. In the center of the room is a 4 by 12 table of black walnut inlaid with laurel, on which are all the papers and periodicals usually read on the coast. The room is abundantly provided with upholstered furniture in the shape of easy chairs, sofas, lounges and the like. On each side are placed $800 mirrors of French plate glass in frames and mountings manufactured expressly for the porch of the building in front. In the evening the apartment is brilliantly lighted by two chandeliers of polished steel. The reading-room is separated by folding doors from the billiard-parlor.

The billiard-parlor is in size its exact counterpart, so that when both rooms are thrown together an area of 22×60 feet is gained. It is lighted from the rear by day and by silvered chandeliers by night. The carpet of this parlor is of the same pattern as that of the reading room. It contains two Strahle tables of the very best make and latest improvements, the beds being of slate and the legs, etc., beautifully carved. Wilton carpets with mitred corners surround the tables. The markers are peculiar institutions and were manufactured expressly for the Washoes at a cost of $100 each. They consist of small black walnut stands, from the sides of which rise arms branching out about a yard. These are connected by wires on which are strung ivory buttons. The counting is done with the fingers and thus the unsightly and inconvenient wires across the room are avoided. A stationary washstand occupies one corner and the parlor is amply provided with furniture. This room communicates with the hall and main entrance and also with the wine-room.

The wine-room is connected with the billiard parlor by means of a broad, arched doorway, richly and heavily draped with crimson curtains, which are drawn aside during the occupancy of the rooms. This room contains an elegant sideboard amply stocked with the very best beverages and cigars which can be procured and a lunch table bountifully supplied with delicacies and substantials. It is richly carpeted with body Brussels. This room is adjoined on the west by the card-room, which is carpeted like the wine-room and furnished with all the appliances which belong to such places.

These apartments and the reading-room and billiard-parlor are daily thronged with the members of the Club and their guests. A stock-reporting telegraph gives regular quotations from the market, and its registerings are narrowly watched while points are given and exchanged among the members.

Between the wine-room and the hall are the reception and storerooms. The former is conveniently arranged for the use of members and visitors. It is provided with hat-racks, and at one side are arranged a number of boxes for the reception, in stormy and bad weather, of mudshoes, etc. The store-room is provided with facilities for storing in proper order the supplies for the wine-room and such other things as are necessarily kept on hand for the convenience of the Club.

Across the hall and reaching to the front of the building are two private card-rooms, which are also being prepared with the proper furniture and necessary accommodations for the members in this line.

Taken all together, the rooms are more convenient, better arranged and more elegantly and luxuriously fitted up than were the rooms which were occupied by the Club previous to the fire.

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