Mary Ruth “Maisie” Kinder was born and raised in Pennsylvania; as a youngster she had the opportunity to go to London to live with her aunt. There she began acting, singing, and dancing. After working as an understudy, she was selected for roles in several plays and musicals including an early London production of Peter Pan.
In 1909 she abruptly left the stage and married Henry Jacob DeLaval Astley, who owned the Chequers Court estate in Buckinghamshire, near London. In 1912, Astley lost his life in a crash piloting his airplane over Ireland. Two years later, the widowed Mary Ruth Astley married a captain of the Royal Horse guards named Shirley Douglas Falcke, and traveled to Reno to divorce him in 1921. Here she met Vinton A. Muller, who had just moved to Reno after completing his surgical training. They married in 1922 and construction of their home at 725 California Avenue began in 1924.
The couple became very active in Reno society and had live-in servants. Vinton Muller was born in Nevada City, California, where his father was also a surgeon. He then attended the University of California at Berkeley and the UC Medical School in San Francisco, where he also served his surgical residency. Muller went on to practice in Reno for more than 40 years. He was a founder of the Reno Surgical Society and served as the chief medical advisor to the Nevada Industrial Commission during the eight years during which the Hoover Dam was constructed. He served as president and secretary of the Washoe County Medical Society and president of the Nevada Medical Association, and established the first blood bank in Washoe County.
Mary Ruth Muller was an organizer and first president of the Reno Women’s Golf Club. Later in the marriage she sang on KOH radio when it was the only station in town. The couple lived in the home until their deaths in the 1970s.
John La Gatta, a long-time community leader, philanthropist and world traveler, owned the house from 1996 until 2015. Mr. La Gatta was an active member of the community who served on the boards of numerous foundations and nonprofits, including the Desert Research Institute, Nevada Museum of Art, Sage Ridge, and Mariposa School. He decorated the interior of the home with his father’s paintings, some of which appeared on the covers of major magazines.
The residence is of the Mediterranean Revival style, consisting of 3,971 square feet plus a 775-square-foot finished basement, and has three bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms. The home is of wood frame construction with a stucco exterior. Interesting architectural features include the classic clay tiles, the entrance framed with elaborate Corinthian pilasters and the decorative iron gate.