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[graphic] Three Historic Nevada Cities Carson City, Reno, Virginia City A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary
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[rotating photos] Views of Sears--Ferris House
Color photo by Terri McBride, Courtesy of Nevada State Historic Preservation Office); Historic photos by Aaron A. Gallup, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey, Reproduction Number HABS,NEV,13-CARCI,13-3 and 13-5
In 1868, George Washington Gale Ferris, Sr. purchased the residence of Mary A. and Gregory A. Sears, who subdivided a portion of early Carson City, and built this house in 1863. The Sears--Ferris House is a square, frame building measuring approximately 60 feet by 60 feet, and combines Greek, Gothic Revival and Classical Revival influences. Ferris came to Nevada with his family in 1864 as a gentleman farmer. In addition to producing typical crops, Ferris planted numerous varieties of trees and was responsible for importing large numbers of Eastern ornamental trees to Carson City including hickory, black walnut and chestnut. Many of Ferris's imported trees still adorn the Capitol grounds.

[photo] George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.
Photo courtesy of Jim Ferris, www.ferristree.com

George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., who became the most prominent figure associated with the house, was a young boy when the family moved from their homestead in Carson Valley to this house in Carson City. Ferris was born in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1859. He graduated from military school in Oakland, California, and in 1881 graduated in engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. By 1892 young Ferris Jr. was associated with railroad and coal interests in the east, and became a bridge builder and organizer of G. W. G. Ferris & Company in Pittsburgh. He and other American engineers had been challenged to build something "which would rival the Eiffel Tower" for the World's Colombian Exposition of 1893.

[rotating photos] Ferris Wheel
Photo courtesy of Nevada State Archives
One Saturday while he sat in a "chop house," an idea came to him. Allegedly he wrote it down immediately on the tablecloth. His invention, the Ferris Wheel, towered 250 feet with 36 cars, each holding 40 people. Immediately popular with fair goers, it took 20 minutes to make a complete revolution. Family descendants believed the idea came from his early days in Nevada, when Ferris Jr. watched the bigwheel turning near the Mexican Mill on the Carson River.

In 1881, Ferris Sr. moved to Riverside, California. He sold the hosue and a portion of the block to his daughter Mary Ferris Ardery for $3,000 in 1890. She added the Classical-style front porch. Ferris Jr. died in 1896 in Pittsburgh at the age of 37

The Sears--Ferris House is located at 311 W. Third St., on the southeast corner of Third and South Division in Carson City. The home is privately owned and not open to the public.

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