The Destruction of Downtown Homes

When I was a kid growing up in Las Vegas, the area around the original Las Vegas High School was rife with houses built in the teens, the '20s and the '30s.  These were some of the oldest homes in the Valley.  Across Charleston Blvd, where the Walgreens sits today, on the corner that intersects with Las Vegas Blvd. South, were some beautiful Tudor homes that were built by some of the pioneering families that had found and made their fortunes here.  They were all beautiful homes.

In the early 1970s, the Tudor homes on that sat on that corner were all torn down in the name of progress.  There was some outcry but not enough to save those homes.  For years that corner was a parking lot among other things.  The Nevada State Bar bought the old Cyril Wengert home and saved it.  It is still standing today.  UNLV moved the Kell Houssels home to their campus in an effort to save it.

The forces of progress moved towards the original Las Vegas High neighborhood.  Lawyers, hoping to save the homes, bought the homes in an effort to save them.  They were appplauded for their efforts.  The High School outgrew its 1930s building and moved to a newer facility.  Instead of tearing down the old High School, it became the Performing Arts Academy.

The Morelli House was saved from the destruction of the Desert Inn Country Club and moved across the street at 8th and Bridger.  A historical tour of the neighborhood was created by Dorothy and Frank Wright that highlighted many of the different architecture styles of the homes.  It was printed and distributed by the City of Las Vegas.  A book called Wildcat Country that included more homes and history than the walking tour brochure was published.

But that was twenty five years ago and much has changed in attitudes since then it seems.

A drive around the Downtown area will reveal just how little we care about our history.  On the street where the oldest house in Las Vegas once stood, there is an empty lot.  That little house was built in 1915.  Now before you start sharpening your pencils and telling me that the house is not old, I would remind you that Las Vegas was founded in 1905.  So, this house qualified as old.  Especially since we have torn down all the houses built between 1905 and 1915.  On the corner of 1st and Garces where the brick building that housed the first Harley Davidson company in the 1930s stood until just a few weeks ago, now there is a dirt lot.

The homes around the original High School, which are on the National Registry of Landmarked Places, the houses are being destroyed by a new wave of attorneys and business owners who feel that nothing says Confidence in your Lawyer like a McMansion Office.   I don't know how to break it to them but that doesn't say Confidence to me.  I would prefer a lawyer like Richard Segerblom or Amy Chelini who have their offices in old homes and don't feel the need to upgrade.

But that's just me.  I'm a history buff and I love Las Vegas history.  I'm just sad that there will be less and less of it to share with others as the years go on.



                                                              This house was built in 1915


                                                                That house as of 10/20/07




This house was built in 1926 

 Harley Davidson Building circa 1930s



 Same place as of 10/20/07



Ralph Purdy Home in the Las Vegas High School Landmarked Neighborhood

This is a great example of the size and architecture of the homes in this historic neighborhood.



The Law Office of Tomorrow 

This is an example of the size and type of business that is replacing our historic homes.


You have a voice!  Tired of seeing the continued destruction of our past?  Join the Friends of Classic Las Vegas today and help save our history! 

Thanks to RoadsidePictures for allowing us to use his photos!