History: National recognition awarded to Truckee Veterans Memorial Building and Rocking Stone Tower

On April 30, the California State Historical Resources Commission (SHRC) reviewed the Truckee Veterans Memorial Building (Vets Hall) and Rocking Stone Tower (Rocking Stone) application and approval was granted to nominate both to the National Register of Historic Places. The Vets Hall and Rocking Stone nomination has now been submitted by California State to the National Park Services in Washington, D.C. for final review and listing by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service will make a listing decision within 45 days.

The 1939 Vets Hall was designed by Sacramento architect George C. Sellon in Truckee, Nevada County. Designed in an unusual style reminiscent of a Gothic arch, suggesting the stylistic influence of military aircraft hangars or Nissen huts, the Veterans’ Memorial building became a social and community center for Truckee. In 1959, a steel tower was built next to the Vets Hallto enclose the area’s legendary Rocking Stone, an unusual balanced-rock geologic formation which later became part of the 1960 Winter Olympics for the Olympic Torch ceremony. The memorial building and tower were built on the former site of the C.F. McGlashan Mansion and its earlier tower. The property was nominated for its strong association with Truckee history and its notable architecture.

The Vets Hall is a forerunner of the Quonset Hut and its architect also happens to be the architect for the historic Agnews State Mental Hospital (registered in NRHP) located in the city of Santa Clara. The Vets Hall is one of three Veterans buildings in Nevada County, all designed by architect George Sellon.

With the addition of the Vets Hall and Rocking Stone Historic Place designation, there will be a total of 24 Historic Places and Landmarks in Nevada County. To better appreciate this important Truckee milestone, there are almost 100,000 National Register listings; 2,900 of them in California; 34 in Placer County (14 in Auburn); and 13 are in Sierra County. So having the Vets Hall and the Rocking Stone Tower added to the National Register is indeed an accomplishment and testament to the historic value of the two sites. In order to even be considered for a national listing, the property must meet significance criterion and include seven (7) categories of “integrity”: location, setting, design, materials, workmanship, feeling and association. The Truckee-Donner Historical Society applicants submitted their application seven times for consideration until it was finally approved.

Please stop by and visit the sites at the top of the hill overlooking Truckee, from Donner Pass Road up Spring Street to 10214 High Street. Although Vets Hall is not yet open for public visitation due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Rocking Stone Tower is outside and readily available to visit. Free parking is available around the site.

Congratulations the Truckee-Donner Historical Society on this wonderful accomplishment.

Barbara Czerwinski is a Truckee-Donner Historical Society volunteer researcher and Nevada County Historical Landmarks Commissioner. She is a retired registered nurse. Heidi Sproat is a volunteer researcher and website administrator with the Truckee-Donner Historical Society. She is a retired former librarian system administrator and paralegal.

A rainbow can be seen above the Truckee Veterans Building.
Courtesy Truckee-Donner Historical Society
The north side of the Veterans Memorial Building, including a view of Rocking Stone Tower.
Courtesy Truckee-Donner Historical Society
A winter blizzard blankets the Veterans Memorial Building and shed in snow.
Courtesy Truckee-Donner Historical Society


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