The Historic Reno Preservation Society was formed 12 years ago and in those years became best known for its walking tours of the city. It has hosted lectures and motion pictures. Information on the society and on membership can be found at www.HistoricReno.org. Cindy Ainsworth is the society’s administrator.
How is HRPS different from other historical groups?
We’ve lasted. [Laughs.] We have. We have volunteers that are really enthusiastic. We do a lot of research, and we probably have about 25 to 30 walking tours now. And then we have programs during the winter. It’s a very active organization.
What else does the society do?
We try to educate individuals about saving some of the buildings in the area we’re concerned about—the Mercantile Building [Reno’s oldest building, southeast corner of Commercial and Sierra], watching out for that. I think the walking tours show that our neighborhoods are important, and they’re important space. It’s kind of the only thing we have left in the downtown region, really. … And we’ve just added this year—like the last two weeks—educational tours for fourth graders. We’re giving tours of the downtown core and so far, we’ve only done two and it’s gone over really, really big. The kids love it. That’s one thing we’re looking at in the future, to develop that program.
Your newsletter has more than chatter in it. There are serious historical articles.
Yes, we try to focus on certain topics. It could be about a certain neighborhood or a house, railroads, the whole gamut of history in Reno.
What are the society’s plans?
We have a small office now, and we would like to have an office in an area where people could come in and do research.
Tell me about the movies.
We show movies that are filmed in Reno. It’s getting hard because we’re trying to avoid films that are already on DVD or whatever. Our members love it. A lot of the people, members, were in the films. So it’s always fun when we get comments about, “That’s me!”
How are you funded?
Mostly from memberships. When we do our walking tours, we get a lot of new members. And that’s basically how we are funded. We’re doing pretty good right now but funding is always an issue. … We have about 500 members right now.
Nevadans are not real rooted. Not only do we have one of the fastest growing populations, so there are a lot of new residents, but people also move in, leave, come back. Do you think that’s one of the reasons people are not connected to the community and we lose the older buildings?
You know, it goes both ways because I’ve found that it’s some of the people that have moved into some of these older neighborhoods—younger families—they’re the ones that have really taken an interest in them. We try to do outreach to folks that are moving into the area because they really want to know about our history. I hate to say it—some of the old-timers are the ones that are blasé about the whole thing, and they don’t take as much interest. You know, they don’t care if the Virginia Street Bridge—“If it goes, it’s a safety issue, oh, well.” But I think we get a lot of comments from families that come in, young couples that are living in some of these neighborhoods, and they’re young professionals and they want to live in that area, they want to live in the old southwest or wherever. So it kind of goes both ways, I think. The old timers are very jaded. That’s what I have found.