After graduating from Western Dental College in Kansas City, Dr. Fred Phillips from Greenleaf, Kansas traveled west, arriving in Reno in 1906. He spent a brief period of time in San Francisco, offering his assistance in the wake of the devastating earthquake of 1906. He then settled in Reno and embarked on a successful professional career which was to last over 50 years. Dr. Phillips married Matti Roberts from Gold Hill, whose father had been involved in the mining business in that area.
In 1915, Dr. Phillips began to acquire land at the current intersection of Plumb Lane and Arlington Avenue. At that time, this was ranching land, well beyond Reno city limits. He expanded his holdings in 1919 and 1930. The family house was constructed around 1918 of rounded river rock gathered on the property. It is a local interpretation of the bungalow style, which was especially popular throughout the western United States. Barns, a milk house, sheds, lower river rock walls, and a fountain were built in this same period. The family maintained a large and flourishing kitchen garden, and grew shade trees and conifers around the house.
Sometime in the 1930s, the family enlarged their home, embracing a river rock shed to the rear, but generally preserving the rustic character of the original structure. In 1945, the Phillips' daughter, Dorothy, and her husband, John Benson, opened Arlington Nursery on a two-acre portion of the ranch that had housed a WWII "victory garden." They constructed a new building with a massive brick fireplace and floors of paving blocks reminiscent of Spanish tiles, which Dr. Phillips acquired when he bought out a Reno brick yard.
For 35 years, Arlington Nursery operated as a garden center and landscaping business, at its height employing 30 individuals on five acres of land. During that time, it blossomed into a destination with a variety of boutiques and specialty shops, with landscaped patios, courtyards, and a fish pond. Dorothy Phillips Benson served on the board of the University of Nevada Arboretum and spearheaded the Benson Memorial Gardens near the Fleischmann Planetarium.
In 1979, Mrs. Benson donated the site of the Arlington Nursery and buildings to the Junior League of Reno to be preserved and maintained as a garden shopping mall. After a period of renovation, Arlington Gardens opened in July 1980 with more than a dozen unique shops and a popular lunch restaurant.
The adjacent Phillips House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1981 and the City of Reno Register of Historic Places in 1996. In 2005 chef Paul Abowd, founder of the iconic Adele's restaurant in Carson City, opened the house as the Stone House Cafe.