| Front View of the Henry Piper House.
Photo by Chris Eichin
The Henry Piper House was built immediately after Virginia City’s Great Fire of 1875 on a lot previously occupied by the smaller home of local businessman and politician Henry Piper. It is a one and one-half story Italianate row house with no doors or windows on the south side. The front façade is dominated by a five-window bay topped with a terne steel half dome. Originally located immediately adjacent to another similar “row” house, the Henry Piper house is a rare example of a mid-range dwelling in Virginia City, where many similar examples have been lost to attrition.
Henry Piper settled in Virginia City shortly after the discovery of the Comstock Lode where he partnered with his older brother John in first a saloon business and then an Opera House. Henry ran the Piper’s Corner Saloon on B and Union streets, one of the longest continuously operating saloons in Virginia City during the nineteenth century. John Piper purchased Maguire’s Opera House on D Street in Virginia City in 1867 which John and Henry ran as partners from September of that year. Deeds show the ownership of the Opera House passed back and forth between the two brothers during the theater’s eight-year run under their partnership. The Opera House brought in nationally known celebrities and quality entertainment to the mining town becoming the most famous Victorian-era theater in Nevada.
| Rear View of the Henry Piper House.
Photo by Chris Eichin
Henry Piper’s involvement with local politics included City Alderman, and two terms as City Treasurer. Henry was elected to the Nevada State Assembly in 1870 serving one term. Henry made one resolution which was adopted. He suggested the assembly chamber be made available to the “Third House,” a reference to the mock legislative body by that name.
The Comstock Lode’s borrasca years took their toll on Henry’s finances as he sought employment at the Carson City Mint in the 1880s. Henry’s attempted theft of amalgam from the Mint while employed there caused him to be fired. A subsequent theft and trial considered one of the most publicized and well-known in the American West during the 1890s, found Henry fined $300 for the attempted theft. Completely restored in 2007, the Henry Piper House reflects an upper middle class dwelling from Virginia City’s boom years.
The Henry Piper House is located at 58 N. B Street in Virginia City. The building is now a bed-and-breakfast, call 775-847-7231 or visit www.BStreetHouse.com for reservations.
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