After the secession of the southern states, the federal government extended its control over the American West. From 1861 to 1864, Congress granted territorial status to every remaining unorganized area of the country except Oklahoma. The Stewart-Nye House thus gains some of its historical significance as the home of Nevada's only territorial governor, James W. Nye, later one of the state's first U.S. senators. The house was also the residence of William M. Stewart, Nevada's other first U.S. senator.
The house is typical of the simple structures built in Nevada's early years. A long rectangle broken by a bay window, it rises from a low stone foundation. Sandstone blocks are joined by raised mortar joints to form the walls. A fulllength porch covers the first-floor facade, supported by double posts with simple molded capitals. The wood-frame roof has gable ends that were later stuccoed.
The Roman Catholic bishop of Sacramento purchased the house in 1917. It is currently owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Reno and functions as the rectory of St. Teresa of Avila Church, across King Street from the house.