In Reno’s early days, many Easterners were coming west to seek their fortunes and a life of adventure. Land was plentiful and cheap and many ranches were established in this still-wild country. Among these new residents were the Evans brothers from Defiance, Ohio. The Evans family produced thirteen children, at least six of whom came west and eventually made their home in the Reno area. Brothers Alvaro and John Newton “Newt” Evans owned land from 5th Street north to what is today McCarran Blvd. Newt sold the state land for the University of Nevada when it was moved from Elko in 1885.
In 1889, Alvaro sold a plot of land at the foot of the university bounded by Virginia and N. Center Streets between 8th and 9th Streets to financier A. G. Fletcher, who subdivided the land into 14 lots. Fletcher had arrived in the Truckee Meadows in 1875 from Maine. He was engaged in building flumes to carry wood to the railroad for the Comstock mines, and later tried his hand at sheep raising, eventually becoming a Reno banker.
Fletcher began selling his lots in the last decade of the 19th century and shortly thereafter, homes along the west side of N. Center St. began springing up. All were in the Queen Anne style, a relatively new style in those days, and it is supposed that they may all have been the work of one craftsman--possibly George E. Holesworth, who designed and built what may be the most charismatic of the homes, the turreted Atcheson House. Center Street, at various times called University Avenue, was part of a larger historical neighborhood that was divided by the construction of Interstate 80 in the 1960s and 1970s. The six houses on the west side of Center Street between Eighth and Ninth Streets were believed to be the last intact row of 19th century residences in the entire city of Reno.
The University of Nevada, Reno developed a master plan in 2014 that designated a "Campus Gateway Precinct" between the south end of campus and Interstate 80. The plan mandated replacing all the remaining houses on the Fletcher lots and the rest of the late-19th and early-20th-century houses in the historical neighborhood with new buildings. A handful of the houses were slated to be relocated by private entities, and the University proceeded to demolish the rest in early 2020. This tour remains as a historical record of the peaceful neighborhood that once thrived at the south end of the University of Nevada, Reno campus.