Historic Structures

Abraham Curry House, Carson City Nevada

Date added: August 4, 2017 Categories: Nevada House

This house vas built and lived in by the founder of Carson City, who was also the first Superintendent of the U.S. Mint at Carson. The house resembles much earlier prototypes and is largely in its original state.

Abraham, Abram, or Abe, Curry was born in Ithaca, New York in 1815. Little is known of his early career, but by 1858 he was in Western Utah. In company with three other men, he came to Genoa in that year from California, intending to establish a general store there. Finding the price of land in Genoa too high, the four men - A. Curry, B.F. Green, Frank M. Procotr and J.J. Musser - rode a few miles north to Eagle Valley, then owned by John Mankin, who operated the Eagle Ranch. They asked Mankin the price, which was the same as a small lot in Genoa, and bought it from him for even less than his first asking.

Although there were four "proprietors" of the Eagle Ranch, from all accounts it seems that Curry is the one to whom credit should be given for making the ranch into a town. It was he who in September 1858 proposed to have a town site surveyed and platted. This was soon done, and an equal division of town lots made between the four. At first, the partners are said to have sold the lots for $50.00 or to have given them away to any who would build on them.

Curry, however, became sole owner of that portion of the property known as the Warm Springs, just to the east of the townsite. Green sold his one-quarter share for a pony and Proctor and Musser gave Curry their interests in this parcel.

On this tract, Curry established both a sandstone quarry and built a stone hotel, one hundred feet long, thirty-two feet wide and two stories high. It was to this hotel which Curry invited the first Territorial Legislature in October l86l. (Governor Nye had issued a proclamation in the summer that the newly elected legislators would assemble in Carson City on October 1, l86l).

This first Territorial Legislature held a forty-nine day session, and on the last day, November 29, l86l, declared Carson City the county seat of Ormsby County. The County Commissioners at first met in rented quarters but on October 14, 1862, they purchased the "Great Basin Hotel", another of Curry's enterprises, for $42,500.00, and converted it into a courthouse.

Among the several offices created by the first Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Nevada in l86l was that of Warden of the Prison. On January 1, 1862, Governor Nye appointed Curry to fill this position. Curry leased his property at Warm Springs for the prison. On the property was the stone quarry, where the prisoners could be put to work, and which provided the building material for many of the city's early buildings. In 1862, the quarry was described as covering some sixty acres.

Curry served as Warden of the State Prison for several years, and in l864 the Territory of Nevada paid him $80,000 for the prison and twenty acres of land, including the stone quarry. During this same year Curry and an associate were granted the right to build, and charge a toll on, a macadamised road from Carson to Empire City.

As early as 1862, the United States Congress had recommended the passage of a bill authorizing the construction of a "branch mint in Carson City. Due to many reasons, it was not until 1865 that a mint in Carson City was finally approved. In December of that year Abraham Curry was named by Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCollock as one of the three Commissioners to establish the Mint at Carson City. When on July 17, 1866, the plans, specifications, and authorization papers arrived in Carson City from Washington, they were addressed to A. Curry, "Superintendent of Construction." Curry was also elected County Surveyor of Ormsby County in 1866, a position he held for two years. In l867, he was one of the charter members of the Carson Encampment No. 2 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The Mint was completed by December, 1869, and when it began operation in January, 1870, it was A. Curry who had been promoted from Superintendent of Construction to Supertendent of the Mint. The document, dated April 15, 1869, and signed by President Grant, appointing Curry as Superintendent is still preserved and displayed in the building.

Curry served as Superintendent of the Mint until September 187O, when he resigned to campaign for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant-Governor, a race he lost.

Curry's next big project was the building of the mammoth shops for the Virginia and Truckee Railroad in Carson City. Construction began in December 1872 and was completed in July 1873. The grand ball, held on the Fourth of July 1873, by which Curry inaugurated the new shops, was his swan song. On October 19 of that year, at the age. of 58, he died. His funeral was the largest held up to that time in Carson City and the Mint ceased operations for the day out of respect to its first superintendent. He is buried in Lone Mountain Cemetary, Carson City.

In spite of, or perhaps because of, his far-flung enterprises, Abe Curry, according to his widow, died with, just one dollar in his pocket. In the years after his death, the neighbors helped pay the bills, provided firewood, etc. Maryette Curry taught a private school in the rear wing and boarders were taken in. Still, portions of the property were sold in 1875 and 76.

In 1902, there were deliquent taxes on the property, and W.H. Cowan paid them and obtained title to the property. Cowan was the son of Elvira Curry, Abe's daughter. The Cowans owned the property until 1919, when it passed out of the hands of the builder's family.