Reno's Sundance Books and Music: Merchants Reign in Historic Levy Mansion Cover Image
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Reno's Sundance Books and Music: Merchants Reign in Historic Levy Mansion

Patricia D. Cafferata



The Levy Mansion stands as a monument to the Levy family, prominent merchants in Northern Nevada and California. The family arrived in Virginia City, Nevada, before statehood in 1862 and were among the earliest settlers in the state. In 1907, Tillie and William Levy built their mansion on California Avenue in Reno, Nevada. They selected the architectural styles of Roman and Greek Classical Revival and Colonial Revival styes for their magnificent home. Originally, the building was home to  Tillie, William and their two daughters, Mimi and Tilly. While Mimi married and moved to California in 1920, William, Tillie and Tinker each resided there until their deaths. 


When Tillie died, her daughters faced a dilemma on how to divide her real property since each one received half of her assets. Mimi, of course, loved living in San Francisco, as much as Tinker loved staying in the Reno house.

In the 1940s, to resolve the quandary, the sisters agreed to subdivide the land. Accordingly, Tinker inherited the house valued at $155,000, while Mimi received the east section of the land along Granite Street. In 1941, the women hired A. Bevilacqua & Sons House Moving and Concrete to pour a new foundation and basement near the west side of the property. Then, the company jacked up the house, turned it from Granite Street to face California Avenue, and moved it back from the streets and settled the mansion on its new foundation. In the move, Tinker’s mansion received a new address of 121 California Avenue.


In 1978, Tinker died at home. Since then, the building has gone through several adaptive reuses but has retained its original character and charm. Finally, in 2011, Sundance Books & Music, a modern day mercantile, moved into the stately house. The mansion, once a a home to a dry goods merchant, is now home to a modern day books and music store.

Today, long after Tinker and Mimi's deaths, and 115 years after the family built the house, the mansion stands as a silent reminder of the Levy family’s financial successes as merchants and their significant role in Reno and Nevada history. 

“This story brought back wonderful memories of my childhood visits with Great-Aunt Mildred “Tinker” Levy.” -- Wendy Coblentz, great-niece of Mildred Levy

“A beautiful story of an old Reno property loved by so many people now and before.” -- Ron Zideck, Reno Native

“Not to be missed history of the Levy family and its contributions to Reno’s past and tale of the superb Sundance Books and Music store and its contributions to Reno’s future.” -- Arlene Laferry, Nevada historian