Country Club
One Plumas Avenue
1935 - 1936

There is little chance that an ashtray will surface from the Country Club. However, these rare shots of one of Reno's most elegant and exciting clubs needs to be preserved.

They are so rare that Dwayne Kling asked for copies to be given to the University of Nevada, Reno History Program as they had not been seen before.


Country Club
Photo from the Mark Englebretson Collection
Country Club
Photo from the Mark Englebretson Collection
Country Club
Photo from the Mark Englebretson Collection
Country Club
Photo from the Mark Englebretson Collection
Country Club
Photo from the Mark Englebretson Collection

The Coutry Club, although short-lived, was one of the most dazzling, exciting, and glamorous clubs ever opened in Reno.

In 1935 Charles Rennie, president of the corporation building the Country Club, announced that over $100,000 had already been spent on the club. The corporation was financed by Lewis Lukenback, a wealthy New York and San Francisco steamship-line executive. The club was built as a pleasure resort, with polo grounds, tennis courts, and other sporting areas. The total cost was expected to be near $175,000 by the time the club opened. Rennie also announced that longtime Reno gambler Baldy West would be in charge of the gaming.

On June 26, 1935, the NEVADA STATE JOURNAL reported that:


Reno's $250,000 Country Club will open tonight....The new club is one of the finest in the west and the opening will be spread out over three days to accommodate the hundreds of guests who have already made reservations.

Five main rooms and a circular porch are included in the building with special dining rooms upstairs. The interior is done entirely of wood with heavy velour curtains forming the walls. The orchestra is situated in the dinning room, which, without a doubt, is the beauty spot of the club. The main bar room is directly off the entrance hallway and over the bar is a huge mural depicting the landing of a pirate ship. The cocktail room is an individual masterpiece with a circular bar and comfortable lounges. Off that room is the Bridge Room where the gaming tables are located. The circular porch provides a view of the entire countryside and at night huge floodlights play brilliant rays across the country club acres.

The opening was a great success, as the NEVADA STATE JOURNAL reported the next day:


Hundreds attended the grand opening of the new Country Club. Guests from all over the state were present at the opening last night. The splendor around them held them partially spellbound. The exclusive Country Club floor show displayed talent seldom seen in Reno and the participants received thunderous applause.

Architect Fredrick Quandt has designed a resort that is far and above anything ever seen in Reno. The casino and bar room is built of walnut paneling throughout. At the far end of the room ia an alcove featured by a trhore and a grand piano. This is the throne room of the kings of song. Entertainers are grouped in the alcove during the evening. Around the alcove are seats, some high, others low, on which guests may rest while they listen. Richly draped in red velour, the throne has a canopy overhead draped in golden silks with a crown at the top.

At the right of the room is the bar, built of prima vera antique wood. The back bar is made of birch, with a prima vera top, while above frosted glass--of an intricate pattern--extends to the ceiling. Opposite the bar are the "tables of fortune" (the gaming tables), i back of which John McQuarrie, foremost artist, has painted a picture of the ship "Fortune" coming into its home port.

Several doors lead from the casino. One of them (goes) to the richly appointed women's powder room, one to the dining room and ball room(,) and others lead to the cocktail lounge...(or) outside to a large glassed in porch. There is also a second floor which has private dining rooms as well as a polo equipment room and dressing rooms for the entertainers.

On July 31 Charles Rennie handed over the general manager's job to Dan Jensen and returned to the Town House to devote his full time to the management of that property.

And then came the big surprise--on August 18 the Country Club closed. H.A. Stafford, secretary of the corporation, announced on 'August 24 that the club would reopen in two weeks under new management. He also assured creditors that there was sufficient money to pay all bills. The business reopened in September with a new slogan--Reno's Ace of Clubs--and a new manager, James Merrell.

The club seemed to do well. For the next several months, George Hart, formerly of the Willows and probably the most beloved entertainer in Reno during the 1930s and early 1940s, appeared there nightly. The Country Club featured deluxe dinners for $2, and every Tuesday night its bigband radio broadcast was heard from coast to coast. The crowds were coming, and the gambling was going well. On April 19, 1936, twenty local businesses took out a full-page ad in the NEVADA STATE JOURNAL "thanking the management of the Country Club, Reno's Ace of Clubs, for the liquidation of its old indebtedness--in full."

Then, on May 15, 1936, the Country Club was leveled by a fire that started in the kitchen at 3:40 A.M. Within two hours, the club was turned into a twisted mass of wreckage. Fire Chief Lee Hawcroft said, "From all indications it was a set fire." But no evidence of foul play was ever discovered. Manager James Merrell put the loss at $225,000 and said that insurance covered only $100,000. He promised that the club would be rebuilt as soon as possible, but in less than two weeks Merrell was working as manager of the State Line Country Club at Lake Tahoe.

The remains of the Country Club, the twisted metal and the concrete building blocks, remained as they were for almost fifty years. In the late 1980s, the property was taken over by the Hyatt Corporation. The site is now occupied by the Hyatt Classic Residence retirement complex.

According to Dwayne Kling