Every year we lose more of our history. 2007 was no different and some of the losses will likely come back to haunt us in the years ahead as Las Vegas discovers cultural tourism. In a city known more for its implosion parties and for not appreciating anything older than the latest fad, we hope that there will come a time when the people realize that their history is worth preserving. Other international cities, which Las Vegas strives to be, realize that history is one of the things that people come to see.
The majority of the destruction that took place this year took place quietly and under the radar of most folks, except us and other preservation minded folks, it seems.
Why Wrong History is Bad History:
One of our most popular stories and serves as a reminder as we go forth in 2008.
Read the original story here.
The Silver Palace Tiles and Clover Jewelers:
The Silver Palace once stood on the corner of First and Fremont. Originally the home of the Las Vegas Pharmacy, the gothic style building was torn down in 1957 to make room for the Silver Palace. Adorned in shades of pink and blue tiles, the casino carried the motif right out to the sidewalk where pink and blue terrazzo tiles were placed. The Silver Palace was ultimately annexed and became part of the Las Vegas Club. But up until last week, there were still remnants of the tiles in the sidewalk.
Here's the link for the story on the history of the Silver Palace.
RoadsidePictures called to tell me that as of Monday, the tiles were painted over. Luckily, he shot this picture earlier this summer:
When I was a kid this Jewelry Store was one of the premiere stores on Fremont Street. In front of the building, in wonderful terrazzo, was the name Clover Jewelers.
Well, when they widened the street for the new neon signs earlier this summer, I guess they decided that they didn't need to keep the Jewelers part of the tiling. It got paved over leaving only the Clovers. We're still not sure why.
The Cimarron Motel:
This was a classic era Motel on Boulder Highway with a neon sign that had fallen into disrepair. What most folks don't know is that some of the original El Rancho Vegas bungalows were moved out to the Cimarron and became part of the motel. That is until this summer when they majority of the motel was destroyed, including the El Rancho Vegas bungalows. The sign is now in the Neon Boneyard.
Here's the link to our history of the El Rancho Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip.
The Destruction of Homes around the original Las Vegas High School:
This was one of the heartbreakers of the year. This neighborhood became part of the National Registry of Historic Neighborhoods years ago. This neighborhood was filled with homes that were built in the 1920s and 1930s. Our pioneer families lived in them and raised their families in them. Las Vegas in the 1920s and 1930s was a much different town. No air conditioning, plumbing and electricity that were erratic at best and lots of wind. When Maude Frazier convinced the School Board to build Las Vegas High at the corner of 8th and Bridger, folks told her she was crazy. No one would live that far out of town and there would never be enough students to fill the classrooms. Maude proved them wrong. The High School, one of the best pieces of Art Deco architecture this side of the Dam, quickly filled with students not only from Las Vegas but from Boulder City as well. The neighborhood around the school quickly became filled with whimsical houses of different architectural styles. In the 1970s, those homes were threatened by developers. However, home-grown lawyers stepped up to the plate and turned many of the homes into small law offices.
Today, the neighborhood, despite its National Registry pedigree, is under siege again as developers are moving in and tearing down the whimsical houses and putting up McOffices because nothing says "confidence and security in your lawyer" like bad architecture.
By the time the rest of the city wakes up and realizes what is going on in the name of progress, it may be too late. It will be hard to walking tours of your historic homes if you have no historic homes to tour.
Here's the link to our original story.
One of the whimsical houses still standing
The future look of the historic High School neighborhood.
The Hilltop House:
I still remember the Saturday morning I called RoadsidePictures and told him that the Hilltop House was closing. He rushed out there to take some pictures, talk to the owners and have one last meal. Located out on the old Tonopah Highway, the Hilltop House had been a Las Vegas landmark for over fifty years.
This was a great old-Vegas restaurant and haunt. With a wonderfully simple neon sign that just said Hilltop House it began life as a ranch house in 1954. In 1961, it was converted into a dinner house. In 1972, Stan Wojtowicz and his wife, Valerie, bought it from former sheriff Glen Jones. The family has owned it ever since.
Mr. Wojtowicz and his wife died within five months of each other last year and their children, who grew up washing dishes and helping out, had been running it ever since. They finally decided that it was time to throw in the towel as people living in Centennial Hills (the nearby area) were more interested in eating at places like Claim Jumper than the Hilltop House.
The Hilltop House follows The Green Shack into the pages of history and we fear that Bob Taylor's Ranch House isn't far behind.
Here's the link to our original story about the closing
Well-known for their pan fried Frog Legs
We hope the sign is in the Neon Boneyard.
The Ambassador East Motel:
Built in 1952 in the then-popular weeping mortar style, the Ambassador anchored the corner of Ninth and Fremont for years. It's large neon sign anchored the large property that stretched from Fremont to Ogden and Ninth to Tenth Streets.
Jackie Gaughan bought the Motel in the mid-1960s and renamed it Jackie Gaughan's (adding his name to the sign) Ambassador East. If finally closed in 1996.
RoadsidePictures and I watched throughout the summer as the chain link fence went up and then the notices of hearings began popping up in the fall.
Word came just before Christmas that the wonderful vintage motor motel was gone, bulldozed for progress and no doubt, a high-rise condo/mixed use tower that will resemble South Beach Florida.
Here's the link to our original story.
The Harley Davidson Building:
This was just a small brick building sitting on the corner of First and Garces. There were no hints of the history that had taken place inside it but those in the know told us that it was the second location of Harley Davidson in Las Vegas in the 1930s. The first location had been downtown behind the old jail and wasn't much more than a greasy monkey paradise.
But this little building was where the paradise moved to sometime during the mid-1930s. RoadsidePictures and I kept an eye on that entire block throughout the summer and fall. And then, in November, we drove by and were stunned to see it gone, replaced by an empty lot.
The 1938 House:
This was one of our favorites. A large home on a large lot at the corner of Eighth and Garces. The trees and foliage had grown up around the property and you could barely see the house. But it was a beauty of a house and someone, at one time, must have had a good time entertaining in the house because it looked like a house that was built for entertaining.
The chain link fence went up around it earlier this summer. When we were out photographing the neighborhood one Saturday afternoon in June, we were told it was going to be bulldozed on Monday.
Here's the link to the original story
RoadsidePictures was there:
The 1915 House:
This little house was the oldest house in Las Vegas. Built in 1915, it was small and non-descript. On the same block of First Street as the Harley Davidson building, the neighborhood has definitely seen better days and from developer fever everywhere around it, the neighborhood will be seeing better days in the future.
But, some one decided that the little 1915 house wasn't even worth moving out to Clark County's Heritage Street where it would have made a wonderful addition to the classic homes there. The little 1915 house never stood a chance. We didn't realize it was endangered until we drove by one Sunday morning and realized that it was gone.
That's how quickly some of the destruction happens in the downtown area. One week a building can be standing, no chain link fence, no notices, nothing. Then two weeks later-BAM!- gone, lost forever to the pages of history because no cared that it might be worth saving. Other cities pride themselves on having walking tours of their historic neighborhoods. At the rate Las Vegas is going, most of its historic neighborhoods will be destroyed before the City understands the concept of cultural tourism. And that will be our loss.
Where the 1915 House and the Harley Davidson Building once stood.
In 2008, we are keeping our eyes on and participating in the preservation of:
Maude Frazier Building on the UNLV campus. As the campus celebrates its 50th anniversary, it wants to tear down its first building. Wrap your head around that one. We are partnered with the Atomic Age Alliance to do all we can to save this building.
Flora Dungan Building also on the UNLV campus. This mid-century marvel is also endangered and again, we are partnered with the Atomic Age Alliance on this one.
The Binion House on Bonanza Road. The For Sale sign has been out front for more years than we can remember. This is a large property and the house has fallen into disrepair. We fear a fire of suspicious nature will ultimately destroy the house that Benny and Teddy Jane raised their family in. But the developers may get there first.
The Huntridge Theater at the corner of Maryland Parkway and East Charleston. Now that the Mattress Store has officially closed the entire property sits vacant. The owner seems to be in a waiting game with the City over what to do with the property. An ignoble end to our first movie palace.
The Motor Motels on East Fremont. This is one of the largest collections of Post War motor motels left in the country. But with developers wanting to turn Fremont Street into a South Beach paradise we worry constantly about these classic motels such as the Bonanza Lodge, the Gables, the Safari, the Sky Ranch and all the others. It would be great if they could be restored and marketed to the those who love history. It worked for Route 66 and we see no reason why it couldn't work here.
So, stay with us, stay subscribed, as 2008 is just getting started and we will be there bringing you all the news not only from the preservation front but the history front as well.
Special thanks to RoadsidePictures for allowing us to use his photos.