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.
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
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.
George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.
Photo courtesy of Jim Ferris, www.ferristree.com
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.
Photo courtesy of Nevada State Archives
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.