|Onslow Hotel & Casino||133 North Virginia Street|
|Sept 05, 1977 - Sept 30, 1989|
Richard & Bev Siri
Photo from the Allan Anderson Collection
In November 1975 the Reno news media announced that Conrad Priess, Jose Gastanaga, Eugene Gastanaga, Everett Brunzell, and Tania Maloff had joined together and planned to build a multimillion-dollar hotel-casino on the site of the old Hilp's Drugstore. Construction of the sixteen-story, 182-room facility, tentatively named the Kit Carson Hotel, was scheduled to start in January 1976 and was to be completed in one year. The hotel was to be built on a 140-by-75-foot lot. The architect was David Jacobson Jr., and the contractor was Brunzell Construction.
On May 3, 1976, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the Onslow (formerly the Kit Carson) Hotel. The name was changed to Onslow to honor longtime Reno resident Onslow Dodd. An informed source said that the owners were given a substantial discount on the price of the property if they agreed to name the hotel in Dodd's memory.
Final gaming approval was given to the Onslow and its owners on June 18, 1977. The Onslow was licensed for thirteen table games, one keno game, and three hundred slot machines. The hotel was scheduled to open on July 1, 1977, but because of construction problems it didn't actually open until September 5, 1977. The following were the licensees: Tania Maloff, Eugene Gastanaga, and Conrad Priess were licensed for 23.4 percent each; Everett Brunzell, 13.4 percent; James R. Parker Sr., 6.1 percent; and several relatives for a small percentage each. James Mack was announced as hotel manager, James Parker Jr. was named general manager and keno manager, LaVerl Kimpton was named pit manager, and Jimmy Gore was the slot manager. When the Onslow opened, most of the 182 hotel rooms were still under construction. However, by mid-September the hotel was completely ready for business.
The Onslow executives touted their second-floor supper club as a revival of the dine-and-dance era in Reno. Guests could choose from a Continental menu and dance to the music of Lenny Herman and his orchestra. The second floor also housed a twenty-four-hour coffee shop, and the third floor had banquet and convention facilities for three hundred people.
The Onslow Hotel-Casino had several general managers and several casino managers in its thirteen-year existence. Among the general managers were James Parker Jr., Ron Erickson, Steve Simon, Jim Mack, Don Trimble, Jim Calhoun, and Frank Perrone. Some of the assistant general managers and/or casino managers were LaVerl Kimpton, Dean Rittenmeyer, Bob Hicks, David Britton, and Ken Barrenchea.
On July 22, 1989, the owners of the Onslow announced that they would cease operations on September 30. Although the prospective new owners were slated to remodel the 182-room hotel and reopen it in 1990 as a time-share operation with gaming, about three hundred employees would lose their jobs when the property closed. The expected sale never came about, and on July 31, 1990, the First Western Savings Association foreclosed on the shut-down operation. Everett Brunzell, one of the three principal owners of the Onslow, said the property went "busted" because "timing was bad and the debt service was pretty heavy."
After almost two years of legal maneuvering and bargaining, the Riverboat Hotel-Casino bought the property in the spring of 1992. The rooms were reconditioned and opened in 1993, and the new owners announced plans for a hotel tower, but it was never built. The Riverboat itself closed in November 1998. The ground level of the building (the former casino area) is currently being operated as a retail store, and the hotel rooms are leased to and operated by the Club Cal-Neva.
According to Dwayne Kling