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Goldfield National Historic District, Goldfield, Nevada

The Goldfield Historic District encompasses an area of roughly thirty-five city blocks of what once comprised the central portion of the original Goldfield townsite. Within its boundaries can be found all of the remaining major architectural resources, as well as the primary historic archeological sites directly associated with the early development of Goldfield. The district contains an array of some 120 permanent buildings constructed almost entirely between 1904 and 1909, the period of Goldfield’s initial boom.

At the peak of its development in 1907 Goldfield boasted a population in excess of 20,000 persons, and a fully developed townsite containing thousands of structures. Contemporary Goldfield presents a completely different urban appearance, primarily as the result of a disasterous fire in 1923 which destroyed 53 blocks of the town including most of the commercial area. However, what remains of the architecture that is most representative of historic Goldfield prior to the fire is located within the historic district.

Aside from containing historic resources which exemplify Goldfield’s architectural heritage, or are significant for their association with important events or persons, the boundaries of the historic district also include the major components of Goldfield’s historic townscape: the commercial district, the upper class residential districts, the red light district, and the primary public facilities.

Although the town as a whole assumes a post-1923 physical appearance, almost all of the remaining historic structures date from the boom period, when the impacts of Goldfield were most strongly felt on the local, regional, and national level. The result is that the Goldfield Historic District embodies the fragments of a particular place in time from which its historic and architectural significance is primarily associated.

The following is a list of properties within the Goldfield Historic District.

NumberNameAddressClassification NumberClassification
001Esmeralda County CourthouseSignificantSignificant
002First Methodist Episcopal ChurchSignificant
003Goldfield Fire Station #1
004E. A. Byler House
005George W. Durgan House
006G. L. "Tex" Rickard House
007Milton M. Detch House
008Goldfield High School
009E. E. Blake / Peter Fellis House
010Enterprise Mercantile Co. Stone Warehouse/Lyric Theater
011Fellis Brothers Block/Site of Goldfield News Building
012Goldfield Hotel
013Florence Goldfield Mining Co. Building
014Ish-Curtis/Registration Trust Company Building
015Goldfield Consolidated Mines/Deep Mines Building
016Elks Building
017Montezuma Club Building
018H. T. Bragdon House
019Northern Saloon Warehouse
020D. D. Carney House
021John S. Cook House
022Charles S. Sprague House
023H. B. Lind House
024Milton C. Ish House
025Granville H. Hayes
026Herbert T. Cook House
027Thomas G. Lockhart House
028Charles Kline / Frank L. Beard House
029J. P. Loftus House
030Major W. A. Stanton House
031Southern Nevada Consolidated Telephone-Telegraph Company Building
032Sideboard Saloon Ruin
033Henry W. Mills and Company Stone Cellar
034R. W. Norrington House
035D. W. Morgan House
036West Side School
037First National Bank Building Ruin
038Feutch and Gasser Warehouse
039Alva D. Myers House
040First Goldfield Jail
041Stone Row House
042H. G. Mayer House
043Frame House
044Beets Garage
045Jennie B. Elder House
046Frame House
047Rectory Building of the First Methodist Episcopal Church
048Parker/Labarthe House
049Frame House / Garage
050Dahlstrom's Garage
051Assay Office
052Brown Parker Garage and Auto Co.
053Mozart Club
054
055
056
057
058
059
060
061
062
063
064
065
066
067
068
069
070
080
090
100
110
120
130
140
150
160
170Miners Union Hall
171State Bank and Trust Company
172Ladies Aid Hall
173MacKenzie Building
174Goldfield Consolidated Water Company Well
175Current Post Office
177Hippodrome Theater
178Nixon Block
179Goldfield Stock & Exchange
180Cohen Building / Max Myer and Co. Site
181St. Nicholas Hotel
182Esmeralda Hotel
183Goldfield Athletic Club
184St. Francis Hotel
185Wood-Sullivan Building
186Watson House
187Western Union
188Texas Saloon
189Nevada Hotel Site
190Palm Studio Site
191Goldfield Cemetery

Statement of Significance

Between the years 1900 and 1920 Nevada experienced a tremendous resurgence of mining activity comparable only to the Great Comstock era of the previous century. The result was the rejuvenation of the State’s political and economic strength, as well as renewed national attention. This period witnessed the birth of dozens of mining camps and towns throughout central Nevada as new mining discoveries or rediscoveries were made. Goldfield was one such camp and by 1906, it had become the regional and national center of attention of Nevada’s twentieth century mining boom.

Goldfield’s pattern of development, from discovery, to boom, to decline, was not unlike the cycles undergone by most other mining camps during the historic period. However, the intensity to which Goldfield was exploited, the magnitude of wealth generated, scale of the town’s development, and its resounding economic and political impacts make it the most noteworthy in the history of mining during the twentieth century.

The Goldfield Historic District contains key resources associated with the architectural, political, economic, governmental and social developments of Goldfield during its boom period. Embodied within the boundaries of the district is the essence of Goldfield’s heritage; a heritage significant for its outstanding
contributions to local, state, and national history.

Historical Overview

The discoveries of rich ore at the turn of the century in the Tonopah district sparked a new era of prospecting and mining development which by 1910 had encompassed nearly all of central Nevada. Hundreds of miners and prospectors converged on the district in the hopes of claiming a portion of the new-found wealth. As Tonopah developed, and its most promising claims already located, prospectors began spreading into the surrounding regions. Two such prospectors were Harry Stimler and William Marsh, who had previously been unsuccessful at Tonopah. Grubstaked by Tonopah notables Tasker Oddie, Jim Butler, George Wingfield and Zeb Kendal 1 they explored a region 30 miles south of Tonopah. On
the western slopes of Columbia Mountain they made the first discoveries of rich ore which eventually were to lead to the sensational boom of Goldfield.

Geographic Features And Boundary Description

Goldfield is located in the Great Basin Region of Central Nevada 26 miles south of Tonopah along what is now U.S. Highway 95. The townsite is situated on a high flat area between a low, rugged range to the east and north, known as the Goldfield Hills, and Malapai Mesa, a prominent geographical formation to the west and south. Directly northeast of Goldfield, in line with the north-south axis of the townsite, is Columbia Mountain. This promontory is the location of the original mining claims of the Goldfield district which provided the initial impetus for the development of the townsite.

The major transportation artery, U.S. Highway 95 5 transects the townsite in a roughly west to east direction. The highway approaches the historic district from the north past Columbia Mountain with its slopes dotted with the remains of several mining operations. The highway curves easterly and passes through the central portion of town along Crook Avenue, At the curve is the district’s western most boundary, demarcated by the Westside School (G-199). Moving east the boundary flanks Crook Avenue on either side to a depth of one-half block. At First Street the district extends south for two blocks to encompass portions of the red light district and early miner’s residences. One block further east, at Main Street, the boundary projects northerly to Miner Avenue. Along Main Street are to be found the major historic archeological features of Goldfield’s original commercial area. Continuing east, the highway passes the Goldfield Hotel (G-123) at Columbia Street, and two blocks further east, the Esmeralda County Courthouse (G-101).

At Franklin Street the district achieves its greatest depth; extending north to Hall Avenue to include the remains of the Catholic Church (G-134), and south to Crystal Avenue to encompass the outermost limits of Goldfield’s primary middle class residential area. From the Courthouse east to where the highway curves south along Sundog Avenue was the location of most of Goldfield’s upper class housing. The large residences of Charles S. Sprague (G-l44) and M. C. Ish (G-146) at the intersection of Crook and Sundog define the eastern edge of the historic district.

The Historic Pattern

The initial settlement of the area occurred on the southern slopes of Columbia Mountain shortly after the discovery of ore at that location in December, 1902. That community, known as Columbia, was composed mostly of tents, dugouts, and crude frame structures inhabited by miners and prospectors. In October 1903, once the value of developing the area was justified, the Townsite of Goldfield was laid out farther to the south of Columbia Mountain on a relatively flat rise. The site of the first well dug in the area became the initial bench mark (intersection of Myers & Main) and a grid pattern of rectangular blocks was surveyed. Road widths ranged from 50 to 75 feet and the blocks were 220 feet wide by 285 feet deep. Between 1904 and 1906 several additions were platted adjacent to the original townsite. They conformed, for the most part, to the grid pattern established by the original survey. By 1909 when the official map of the Federal Townsite of Goldfield was prepared, the community and its suburbs of Columbia and South Goldfield encompassed over 250 city blocks within a one and a quarter square mile area.

Once the townsite had been established the settlement pattern of the area took on the more formal appearance dictated by the grid of lots and blocks. The primary north-south axis was Main Street which evolved as the major commercial thoroughfare. Parallel and one block east was Columbia Street which also was developed with commercial and business blocks. Ramsey Avenue provided the primary east-west access through the central portion of Goldfield, and its intersections with Main and Columbia Streets became the focal points for some of the most important commercial buildings in the community.

By 1908 the central business district extended from roughly Myers Avenue north to Miners Avenue, encompassing about twelve city blocks. The streetscapes were almost completely developed with one and two story false front frame structures, punctuated occasionally with substantial stone and brick buildings. Major structures within the business section included: the Nixon Block, the Ross-Holley Block, the Goldfield News Building, State Bank and Trust Building, Goldfield Stock Exchange Building, the Montezuma Club (G-132) and the First National Bank of Goldfield Building (G-201), all destroyed by the fire of 1923.

Substantial commercial buildings dating from this period which still exist are the Telephone and Telegraph Building (G-185), the Goldfield Consolidated Mines Building (G-130), the Curtis/lsh Building (G-129), and the Goldfield Hotel (G-123).

The residential areas of historic Goldfield were clearly defined according to the social stratification of the community. North of Miner Avenue stretching for several blocks along Main and Broadway Streets were the houses of the working class; miners, laborers, shop clerks, etc. The small wood frame structures of this
area were interspersed with larger lodging and boarding houses. Another small working class neighborhood was located on the blocks between Franklin and Euclid Avenues north of Crook, and a third area existed to the west of Second Street, south of Myers Avenue.

The red light district was situated along three blocks of south Main Street below Myers Avenue. It was composed of mostly frame structures, tightly fitted onto the lots, which functioned as dancehalls, saloons, cribs, and female boarding houses. Today only two of the more substantially constructed of these buildings still exist: the Stone Row House (G-213) and the Brick House (G-214).

The primary middle class residential area extended from Crook south to Crystal Avenue between Fifth Avenue and Sundog. It was composed of modest frame, adobe or stone dwellings large enough to accommodate the families of the community’s businessmen, proprietors, shop owners, mining engineers, etc. Among the most notable of these houses which still remain are the H. G. Mayer house (G-216), Major W. A. Stanton house (G-172), Kline/Beard house (G-164), and the T. G. Lockhart house (G-150).

The most prestigious residential district was developed on East Crook Avenue from Euclid Avenue past Sundog. Along this roadway exist the residences of some of Goldfield’s most noteworthy citizens: The M. C. Ish house (G-146), the Charles S. Sprague house (G-144, John S. Cook house (G-143), Milton M. Detch house (G-110), and the G. L. “Tex” Rickard house (G-107).

During the years 1904-1908 the Goldfield Mining District witnessed its most intense period of development. Correspondingly, the building and construction activity in the community developed with as much intensity. By late 1908, at the height of its development, the architectural appearance of Goldfield presented a diverse display of architectural types and methods of construction which ranged from utilitarianism to sophistication.

Although the palette of local building materials included stone, adobe, and brick, the most dominant method of construction was wood frame sheathed with boards and battens, clapboard, or shiplap siding. This material could be found in all types of architecture, from the most modest of cabins to the largest residences, to the majority of commercial structures. Detailing and level of craftmanship varied, but the basic components remained the same.