Celebration Day

Despite any preconceived notions we all might have, Reno still knew how to celebrate in the middle of a national depression. New federal buildings, much like Fifty South Virginia when it was built, gave cities and their citizens a lot to be thankful for in a time where uncertainty was commonplace.

The McDonald Engineering Company began the building of DeLongchamp’s design in late 1932. Schools closed early and many businesses closed their offices for an hour on November 15 for the groundbreaking ceremony. Reno radio station KOH broadcasted the ceremony while the University of Nevada band played. Senator Tasker Oddie and local dignitaries spoke and many of the same dignitaries participated in another ceremony on May 13, 1933 placing the building’s cornerstone.

Both of Reno’s Masonic lodges participated in the ritual laying of the cornerstone for the post office. During the ceremony, they used a trowel used to lay the cornerstone of Morrill Hall on the University of Nevada, Reno campus fifty years earlier and a replica of a trowel used by George Washington to lay the cornerstone of the Capitol building in 1793.

McDonald Engineering completed the building in March 1934. In addition to the main Reno post office, the Veteran’s Bureau, War and Navy Departments, Biological Survey, Weather Bureau, Land Survey Department, Bureau of Reclamation, Water Conservation Department, and United States District Attorney all had offices in the building.

Unique From the Outside In

When Frederic J. DeLongchamps designed the Reno Downtown Station, what is now Fifty South Virginia, he created one of the most unique and well thought out architectural achievements the state had seen. A classic piece of Reno’s landscape, DeLongchamps’s design featured many firsts for federal buildings during his time. This construction photo, taken May 3, 1933, shows the Reno Post Office (Downtown Station) in the framing stage of construction. As you examine the second floor platform of poured concrete being complete, you may note the Truckee River in the background.

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