The house I live in was built by Paul Williams. I live in Lovelock, Nevada. Do you know anything about my house?
Comment submitted to the Paul R. Williams Project website, 2010
In 1925 California Arthur Heineman combined his interests in architecture and cars creating a new lodging concept—the motor court with drive-up parking. Capitalizing on the growing American obsession with travel by automobile, Heineman’s “motor hotel” in San Luis Obispo, California would be the model for the mom-and-pop hostelry industry that would spring up across the country. The construction of an extensive U.S. highway system in the 1940s and 1950s brought Heineman’s concept to every city and town no matter how small or out-of-the-way. (The Seattle Times. April 25, 1993) In the late 1940s this lodging concept reached Lovelock, Nevada.
When Indiana residents Mr. and Mrs. William "Bill" A. Tharpe decided to invest in a motel/motor court, they turned to Mrs. Tharpe’s uncle E. L. Cord for advice. Cord, an experienced entrepreneur suggested they visit and explore their options in his newly adopted home, the wide-open, tax-free state of Nevada. After traveling across the state, the Tharpes selected Lovelock as the site for their future inn. A logical stop-off between Reno and Winnemucca for transcontinental travelers, the town was perfectly situated with little competition and proximity to the Cord’s vacation ranch. Cord recommended Paul R. Williams to design both their home and business, the Lovelock Inn.
By the 1940s Paul R. Williams had successfully completed a variety of projects in Nevada overcoming both logistical and social problems. His early work in Reno was hampered by an inability to rent office space, find comfortable housing and contract with builders, suppliers or craftsmen willing to work with him. After forging important personal relationships in Reno, he expanded his design projects to the surrounding area.
In 1946 Williams submitted a ranch-style house plan to the Tharpes (image 3). Located just south of Lovelock on U.S. Highway 40, the 3065 square-foot, single story, masonry house was simple by California standards but luxurious for the small town. With three bedrooms, each with its own bath, a large open beamed living room (image 4), kitchen, separate dinette, utility room, and three car garage, the home provided a comfortable location for monitoring the construction of their inn. The attached maid’s apartment (images 15, 16) was an unusual feature for the rural area.
Lovelock’s isolation meant all building materials were made locally or trucked the 94 miles from Reno. Unusually narrow, extra-long bricks on both the exterior and some interior walls were made on a near-by ranch. The pink stone (image 7) on two fireplaces was quarried from the Humboldt River. Craftsmen, responsible for the custom carpentry, ironwork and tile, also had to be brought in. The expensive milled woods—knotty pine, rock maple and wormwood found throughout the house on walls, ceilings, cabinetry, large closets with built-ins, trim and doors (image 10)—were railed to Reno from Oregon and then trucked to the building site.
Though there are no records describing how Mr. and Mrs. Tharpe entertained, Williams included an elaborate outdoor patio/barbeque area (image 12) similar to one he designed for Rafael Herman’s ranch in Reno. Humboldt River stone, locally made brick, metal work by Reno Iron Works (image 6) and extensive landscaping decorated the large space.
After 23 years of living and working in Lovelock, the Tharpes sold their property and retired to Indiana. The home and inn were sold separately. The Brinkerhoff family, ranchers in Pershing County, bought the house. The current owners (younger members of the Brinkerhoff family) have maintained many of the Paul R. Williams’ features, only updating the kitchen and mechanical systems. The wood throughout the house including the hardwood floors is untouched and all have the original natural finishes.
Though the current owners had lived in the home for a number of years, they were not aware of its architectural pedigree until recently. Like many owners of Paul R. Williams’ designed houses, they have a strong emotional attachment to their residence, describing it as “open and warm” … a wonderful place to live and raise their family.