The Renaissance Village
Renaissance Village Map by Darl Clark
THE RAILROAD HOUSES
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 decided to go into business and
developed a freighting and storage business. He married
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.
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
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
Renaissance Village Opens for Season
By Lorraine Clark
The Ely Renaissance Village will open for the 2012 summer
season on Saturday, June 2 at 10:00 am. The Village will be open
on Saturdays June through September.
The kickoff for this season will feature a Tag Sale on June 2 with
collectables and antiques available for purchase. The General
Store also has new items for sale. Be sure to stop by.
Events for the Village season include the Art Wine Walk on July
28 from 5 – 7 p.m. Local artists will have their work on display and
for sale. This is a chance to get lovely pieces for gifts or
redecorating your home while enjoying ethnic appetizers in each
of the houses. A no host dinner will be available at 7:00 pm. This
event is one of the major fund raisers held by the Ely Renaissance
The Farmers Market will begin on Saturday, August 25 and run
through the Saturdays in September. Local vendors are welcome
to contact the elyrenaissace.com website for information on
having a booth at the Market.
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.