Renaissance Village Map by Darl Clark
In 1907 the following excerpt
appeared in the White Pine News:
HOUSES FOR RAILROAD MEN
Six dwellings going up at Eighth Street and Avenue B in Ely
City which will be occupied by railroad men employed by the
Nevada Northern about the yards, most of whom are married
and anxious to bring their families. Other houses will be erected
as the force of railroad workers is increased.
Renaissance Village Beginnings
By Betty Orr
It was first assumed that the five matching houses here at the
Renaissance Village were section houses, placed along the line
for the Nevada Northern section bosses. But further research
revealed that section houses were of a different dimension being
rectangular in shape. (The railroad houses here measure 24 x 24
feet.) Bill Geraghty bought the railroad houses and moved them
to their present site in the early 20’s. Originally there were six
matching houses but one had been sold when Geraghty bought
the remaining five. These had been built at 8th and B Street in
East Ely in 1907 to house railroad yard workers. A sixth house
was substituted and it is slightly larger and has a different floor
plan. This is now used as an artist studio. Insurance papers
recently discovered have diagrams of the Railroad houses and
their placement on the property.
Bill Geraghty and his two brothers came to Ely from
Devonshire England in 1906. Soon he Jessie Meddaford in 1908
here and they made their home near where Murry and Mill
Streets converge. A few years later in 1911, the young family
moved up to this property on Ely Street. family moved up to
this property on Ely Street.
Bill Geraghty purchased Lot seven, in Block four in December,
1913 and acquired the other lots and houses in 1925. Here the
family lived for many years. According to a recently discovered
note written by Bill and Jessie Geraghty’s daughter, Melba, she
and her parents first moved to this property on Ely Street in
1911. She was two years old at the time. The first house the
family lived in was #454. Then, in 1915, Bill bought #448. He
added a kitchen to this two room house, which, with furniture
and kitchen utensils, he purchased for $125.00.
The Geraghty “White Transfer and Storage Company”
prospered. It was also a distributor of coal which was
purchased in Salt Lake City. Bill Geraghty picked up freight
from the Nevada Northern Railway and delivered the supplies
and merchandise to the various businesses in town.
Bill Geraghty bought interest in several Elko County mines as
well. He also provided Ely’s first service station, located about
sixth or seventh and Aultman. William Geraghty was killed
when his truck rolled north of McGill in August of 1941. He
was 64 years old.
After his death, his daughter, Melba Geraghty, continued to
occupy the property until a few years ago. She passed away in
2007. A younger son, Bill, makes his home in the San
Francisco Bay area.
Brother Tom Geraghty started the McGill Transfer and Storage
Company in 1907. The third brother owned the Merrycourt
Dance Pavilion located between Aultman and Campton Streets.
Sometimes the pavilion was flooded and used for ice skating
which was a popular pastime.
In 2005, the Ely Renaissance Society purchased the entire
parcel with the intent of restoring the buildings and establishing
an art center to preserve a snapshot of our rich history depicted
by our murals. It has been named the Renaissance Village.
Houses are being refurnished to reflect the ethnic groups that
came to the Ely area. The restoration is being done by
volunteers who spend many hours scraping paint, refinishing
furniture, and cleaning up the site. Workers have cleaned the
exteriors but managed to retain the integrity of the buildings.
Much work had been done by members of men from the NFS
Honor Camp crews, White Pine High School Honor Society,
and members of the Renaissance Society.
The little railroad houses were just three rooms: a tiny living
room, a fair sized kitchen dominated by a large wood range, and
a single bedroom. It too, was small. Each house had a bathroom
with a claw-foot bathtub plus a “modern” stool with a ceiling-
high tank with a flushing apparatus. A front porch welcomed
A visit to the Renaissance Village is a chance to see
what housing and life was like in the early 1900’s in
Ely. Many items have been donated to the Village and
are on display. Walking through each house,
decorated to represent the various ethnic groups that
lived and worked here, is a chance to see and
remember life with wringer washing machines, wood
stoves, manual typewriters, heavy metal irons, ice
boxes, and all the modern appliances of the 20th
century. Visit elyrenaissace.com for a virtual tour and
full schedule of events.