Ghosts of Carson City

Okay, maybe not quite what you’re thinking. Not ghosts as in haunted houses, although Carson probably has its share of those. These ghosts are the abandoned buildings that litter the town, forgotten and waiting for a second life.

Okay, that’s the sound of half of you leaving. I guess I deserve that for the bait and switch.

Really this is just an excuse for me to take some pictures around town. Carson City, like most towns, has its share of abandoned buildings. It doesn’t have any spectacular ones, though. It doesn’t have any blighted warehouse districts, or spooky haunted houses with creaking shutters, or anything approaching the majesty of Buffalo’s Central Terminal. Nor will anything in Carson City be worthy of appearing at Modern Ruins. We’ve actually got it pretty good, which makes doing this page hard. And a lot of the buildings are being fixed up, even as I’m trying to get in to take pictures of them. Oh well. You have to play the hand you’re dealt, so here I am taking pictures of run-down casinos. Sigh.


Jack’s Bar

Bar, closed 1999

Built in the 1890’s, this saloon has gone by a number of names over the years. Most recently it was known as Jack’s Bar, the official watering hole of the Nevada State Legislature.

Jack’s Bar is among the oldest standing structures in Carson City. It claims to have been a bar “since 1859”, but the building only dates back to the 1890’s. It has long been a popular watering hole for locals, due to its prime location at Fifth and Carson. It sits in the shadow of the Ormsby House hotel and right across the street from the State Legislature building. Whenever the Legislature was in session, the bar would be full of drunk lawmakers every night. Sometimes during lunch, too.

It closed a few years ago so the owner could go on vacation, but it never reopened and was sold to the owners of the Ormsby House. Its fate is currently unknown, since nobody wants it torn down but structural problems prohibit it from reopening (more on that in these meeting minutes).

The sordid history of Jack’s Bar was Historical Myth-A-Month #44.


Capitol Motel

Motel, demolished 2003

Here’s one ghost that has shuffled off its mortal coil. The Capitol Motel was an 8-unit lodging on the corner of Fifth and Curry streets. It was a low-rent, asbestos-laden rat trap that was notable only for its astonishing shabbiness. It also provided a striking contrast to the monolithic hulk of the Ormbsy House, right across the street. The Capitol Motel was razed in late 2003, reportedly to make way for a parking lot. No big loss. I think we’re better off with the asphalt.


Golden Dragon

Restaurant, closed over 10 years


Warren Engine Company, No. 1

Fire Station, closed 1995

In the early 1950’s, this three-bay firehouse was built as the headquarters for Carson’s all-volunteer fire fighting squad, the Warren Engine Company. It replaced their old headquarters right across the street. It was centrally located in town, only a block from the Capitol building, and it served for many years as Carson’s only firehouse. In 1974 the fire department did build Stations #2 and #3 at the edges of town, but downtown Station #1 remained the headquarters building. It wasn’t until 1994, when a new six-bay firehouse was built a mile away on Stewart Street, that headquarters moved and the Curry Street station was abandoned.

The Warren Engine Company stil exisits as an all-volunteer squad, but now it only assists the professional Carson City Fire Department. The original sandstone firehouse remains across the street as a historic landmark, but this Atomic Age turkey is slated for demolition to free up more room for downtown parking.


Wal*Mart

Department Store, closed 2002


Super K

Department Store, closed 2003

In 2003 the bankruptcy axe fell on the Kmart corporation, and fell hard. Carson City lost its only Kmart. It had been in this building for nearly ten years, after moving from across town. I even worked there for a little over a year. After it closed it left an empty shell and a struggling strip mall (see below).


Northtown Center

Strip Mall, built 2001

This one really doesn’t belong on this page. It’s not abandoned, just horribly empty and desolate. This shopping center was built over two years ago. Today it still sits mostly empty. Out of 30-40 retail spaces available, only 8 are filled. And with its anchor store, the above-highlighted Super K, now closed, I can’t imagine the future looking too good.


Rebirths

Not every dead building stays abandoned forever. Some of them were lucky enough to get a second chance at life, and were renovated back to usefulness.


Ormsby House

Casino, closed 2000, currently under renovation

Not so much a ghost as a phoenix, in the midst of a rebirth. It’s the grandpappy of closed buildings in Carson. I’ve set up a separate site covering this one, there’s just so much.


Lucky Spur

Casino, closed mid-70’s, currently under renovation

Now, doesn’t this just figure? I finally get around to taking pictures of this casino, which has been closed since the 1970’s, and now they’re planning on renovating it this summer. I just put it on the ghosts site, and it’s already soon to be disqualified. Just my luck.

The Lucky Spur is one of the last abandoned storefronts left downtown. Sitting only one block from the State Capitol, it’s surely been one of the most prominent eyesores in town.


Supply One

Hardware Store, closed 2000, renovated 2003

Not fair! I take the pictures, and then they announce that they’re fixing up the building and turning it into a casino. How can I put this page together if there aren’t any abandoned buildings in town?

Supply One was a hardware/lumber store that had spread to a few Western states. It was the premier hardware store in Carson for a long time, but then Home Depot came to town. Then Lowe’s announced they were coming to town. Then the whole company declared bankruptcy. Then they shut their doors, and left the building to rot. The structure has now been reborn as “Casino Fandango”, but here are some photos from a less prosperous time.

2 comments

  1. I am looking for picture of the inside of Jacks Bar. One’s that show the picture that may have been on the walls. If you have any info or pictures please contact me. Thank you

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