We hear alot of talk in Las Vegas about a renaissance of downtown with the coming Union Park, the Post Modern Museum, the Smith Center for Performing Arts, the East Fremont Entertainment District and we love the talk we are hearing. It all sounds very wonderful, very urban, very 21st Century.
However, as we drive around the historic core of Las Vegas (Garces to Stewart, Main to Eighth) we are less excited. This is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Las Vegas. Many of the homes in this area date back to the late teens and the 1920s. Years ago, lawyers bought many of the homes under the guise of saving them and turned them into law offices.
Today though, house after house, street after street is riddled with for sale signs and houses imprisoned behind chain-link fences waiting for their date with the wrecking ball. To see so many in such a concentrated area is to fear for the longevity of this historical district.
We all agree that downtown is changing and evolving. But many in the upper echelons of city government keep touting the idea of Las Vegas as mixed use condos and retail and many of these homes are endangered because the condo fever that has swept large cities like Las Vegas the last few years. However, the condo market has cooled even in Las Vegas. Our big fear is that these wonderful homes will be destroyed for nothing.
The sad fact remains is that when they are gone, we can't rebuild them. People talk about a historical district around the old Las Vegas High School (today the Performing Arts Academy) and it could be a wonderful reality in the years ahead. Like all other large cities that promote their downtown, one of the things tourists in any town like to do is visit the old homes and see how the pioneer families lived.
We have that district here in Las Vegas but we are in danger of losing it forever. The continued destruction of these homes for large law offices and condo towers that may never get built is not only a sad testament to life in Las Vegas but the little regard that too many of us have for the stories of our past and our history.
Our history was made on these streets and in these homes. Many of us of a certain age still mourn the loss of the Tudor homes that used to line the corner of Charleston Blvd and Las Vegas Blvd South. Those were torn down almost forty years ago because we needed a parking lot.
I suspect that we will be mourning the loss of the majority of houses in the Las Vegas High School district and its adjacent neighborhoods very soon.
Why is it so hard to get people to care about not only their history but the preservation of that history as well?
Built in 1915, may be the oldest house in Las Vegas today.
Built in 1927
Built in 1935
Built in 1938, being torn down tomorrow morning
One of the endangered ones
Slated for destruction
One of the last remaining railroad cottages. Two were moved to the Clark County Museum in Henderson and two were moved to the Springs Preserve.
Thanks to RoadsidePictures (Allen Sandquist) for allowing us to post these images.