The Washoe County Library, located at 301 South Center St. in Reno, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on Feb. 13. The National Register is the nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation.
Completed in 1966, the library is significant to the social history of Reno and represents the city's interest in and appreciation for art and architecture. The library was constructed as Reno
transformed from a gambling and divorce town to a vibrant cultural community. A formative decade, the 1960s saw the construction of the library as well as the Pioneer Theater-Auditorium (NRHP listed 2004) and the Fleischmann Atmospherium Planetarium (NRHP listed 1994). All three buildings reflect modern architecture constructed for public benefit.
The Washoe County Library (known as the Downtown Reno Library) was designed by architect Hewitt Campau Wells. There is an unexpected contrast between the building's interior and exterior, with its landscaping inside. Angled glass and copper panels surround the front doors which lead in to a bridge spanning the center of an atrium, around which the library is constructed. The ground floor of the atrium features a pond complete with a fountain and inlaid stone paths. Mature trees and extensive foliage extend toward the skylights. Spiraling stairs and circular reading pods complete the dramatic interior.
"The Washoe County Library System is honored by the recent listing of the Downtown Reno Library in the National Register of Historic Places," said Library Director Arnold Maurins.
"Housing a library in a building of such unique architecture reinforces its role in the community as a place where creativity is fostered and where people are connected, not only with information and ideas, but also to an authentic sense of place."
"This jewel of the Modern Architecture movement symbolizes the rise of Reno as a community that celebrates the arts and culture and it remains a linchpin in Reno's vital downtown area," said Rebecca Palmer, acting state historic preservation officer.
For additional information about the library please visit the library's website www.washoecounty.us/library/downtown.html.