The area around the old Las Vegas High School (now the Performing Arts Academy) is truly historic. If you have been reading our blog, you know that many of the homes in this neighborhood date back to the 1920s.
Now, before you start telling me that 70 year old homes aren't really that old, I would just like to point out that in a city that is 102 years old, 70 year old homes qualify as historic. Granted, Las Vegas does not have the historical cache of New York City, Boston or anywhere back East. But, that's not the point.
We live in the West and the West, in many places is historically younger. But so what? If you live in Las Vegas today and are from a city that is older and has more history, we applaud you. All we ask is that you understand our history.
Las Vegas, informally, came into being with the Land Auction in 1905. Men and women came via the railroad and stood in 100+ degree weather to bid on property. Then, they set about starting a town and building a community.
One of the main ingredients in building a community is building homes and neighborhoods.
The area around the old High School is one of our oldest existing neighborhoods. (See last week's blog for more info).
It is a Nationally Registered Historic Neighborhood.
However, it is NOT a City Registered Historic Neighborhood and there in lies the difference.
People tend to think because it is a National Landmark the neighborhood is protected. We thought that. We were WRONG.
Because the property owners have fought tooth and nail to avoid it being a City Historic Landmark neighborhood, they have protected their own interests.
Thirty years ago this neighborhood was threatened with destruction. A number of attorneys presumably donned white hats and came to the rescue. The spin was that they were protecting these historical homes by buying them and turning them into their Law Offices. Everyone, it seemed, was happy.
However, many of these same attorneys were the guys who fought the City Historical status, unbeknowst to many of us.
Everyone, it seemed, embraced the idea of the neighborhood being a National Registered Landmark. The neighborhood received the national designation.
Fast forward to today where property prices in that neighborhood have skyrocketed. What was once a lovely home in a historic neighborhood you can now sell and probably retire on the money made from the property sale.
Thus, more and more property owners are selling these historic homes to developers.
What does it mean? Well, that one of the most historic districts in Las Vegas is being destroyed at a furious pace. Last week, we wrote about a number of houses that were endangered and one in particular from 1938 at Eigth and Garces that was slated for destruction.
We are sad to report that the house has been demolished. (See below for picture). As we drove around on Saturday evening, we were saddened to see more For Sale signs on more properties.
Yes, we know you come from a place that has two hundred years worth of history and we congratulate you for that. However, we are all living in a city that is 102 years old. A 70 year old neighborhood qualifies as historic in our book.
These homes cannot be rebuilt. With the coming gentrification, cultural tourism will be a big deal. If this destruction keeps up, there will be no cultural tourism of historic homes because they will have been destroyed and turned into vacant lots (because all those proposed condos will not built) or the other favorite, a parking lot.
At what point do we start to say, enough is enough. Our history matters. And it should matter not only to me, not only to you, but to all of us.
1938 House at Eighth and Garces on 6/3/07
The same lot on 6/10/07
Special Thanks to Allen Sandquist (RoadsidePictures) for allowing us to use these images.