Reno’s divorce colony was underway by 1906, and many enterprising property owners and business people seized the opportunity to provide housing and related services to Reno’s temporary citizens. In short order, an entire industry developed to provide divorce-seekers an array of lodging options including hotels, apartment buildings, boarding and rooming houses, private residences, spare rooms, auto camps, and dude ranches.
As the state legislature repeatedly shortened the required residency period, the number and types of housing options increased. Each one provided unique surroundings and experiences to the divorce-seeker. There was short-term housing both for the rich and famous and for those with barely enough money to keep body and soul together. As a result, the migratory Reno divorce was remarkably attainable for most of America’s citizens.
Locating one of these temporary homes was the first step toward establishing Nevada residency, and posed a challenge for divorce-seekers, most of whom had never before visited Reno. To ease the process, local lawyers maintained relationships with boardinghouse, dude ranch, and hotel managers, allowing referrals to move both ways. A few divorce lawyers even bought apartment buildings and set up their wives as managers.
Dorothy Bartlett, a daughter of popular Judge George A. Bartlett, was a realtor who had a natural advantage in the business due to her connections. The local Chamber of Commerce provided housing information upon request. In fact, nearly any Reno local could direct a divorce-seeker to a friend or associate who could provide housing and a resident witness to those in need.
From hotels to boarding houses, guest ranches to auto camps, lodging for the divorce-seeker came in all shapes and sizes.
Nevada courts required proof that each divorce-seeker had remained in the state for the required duration.
Members of “the colony” often found instant camaraderie with those going through the same experience.
Dude ranches offered lodgers a taste of western living, often with first class amenities.