Saying Goodbye to the Old at Victorian Square
We went to take a look at the last remnants of what used to be, and what folks there now think of its future.
As the center of Sparks undergoes a massive remake with new apartments and retail, Victorian Square is quickly…and dramatically, changing its look. To picture what it used to be there, you really have to close your eyes and go back a while. But not too far…50 years ago there wasn't even a Victorian Square. Victorian was B Street, just south of the railyard.
Sparks Museum & Cultural Center museum manager Tandy Gach says it quickly became the heart of the town: "B Street was the hustle and bustle of Sparks. That is where everything grew and thrived from." In the 1980's the street got bigger, casinos expanded… both with an eye toward drawing tourists. But it was still that small rail town.
Today, it’s all blueprints and bulldozers. Over 1,500 new housing units are on the way. And in between the empty Bourbon Square Casino, and the empty jewelry store, sits the last store holdout of what Victorian Square used to be. Heidi Quadrio and her mom Cindy Lichty run Blue Garter Bridal and Tux in a building that opened as a bank, then a boot shop, then an architect's office. Through most of their 21 years there, there was shopping on Victorian. Heidi told us, "There was a travel agent down here, and antique stores down here. But it's a little difficult for us now, because we don't have any neighbors."
Then the movie theatres and Bourbon Street closed. Next door, so did W.R. Adams and Sons Jewelry, after being in business 100 years. Heidi told us the owner “retired. There was no one in the family to take over the business. Heidi saved the cabinet from W. R. Adams before it was thrown away. One thing about being the last store on the square: your place starts to resemble a museum.
Sparks is gaining much needed housing…but like Reno, losing the heart of what made it unique. Before B Street, there weren't many Christmas shops in the U.S. like W.R. Adams had. There's lots to miss. Heidi misses “the closeness of each store owner and the small shops, that was nice." But Heidi's hoping they'll come back, telling us "We plan on being here a lot longer."
And even the folks down the street in the historical museum can see the value of this latest transformation. Tandy told us, “I'm excited about improvements from our city and I think that's what we've always done, is improved."
So what's the end of this story? Heidi hopes the future of Victorian Square and the people who love it, is right in her cabinet: an antique sign that reads, “And they lived happily ever after."