Mid-Mod Marvels Recap!

Our buddy Dennis McBride, the Curator of History at the Nevada State Museum not only saved our Saturday programs with his canny foresight but he also wrote up this wonderful recap of all the events:

A Successful Weekend

On October 22-24, the Friends of Classic Las Vegas hosted its second annual Mid-Century Modern event. Co-sponsored this year by the Architectural and Decorative Arts Society, the El Cortez Hotel, Retro Vegas, VeryVintageVegas.com, the Metro Arts Council of Southern Nevada, and RAFI Planning, Architecture, and Urban Design, Mid Mod Marvels proved once more the enduring popularity of mid-century modern living.

The weekend started with a swank affair Friday night at the Morelli House, maybe the best known Mid-Century Modern landmark in Las Vegas, owned and restored by the Junior League. League members dressed in period clothing, provided tours of the house, and hosted a meet-and-greet reception for Mid-Century aficionados. The Nevada State Museum supplied a series of photographs of mid-century Las Vegas from the Jay Florian Mitchell Collection to round out the evening. With plenty of wine and nibbly things, the evening gave a hint of the fun yet to come.


Saturday included two panel discussions and the Las Vegas premier of the film, William Krisel, Architect, a documentary detailing the career of famed mid-century architect Bill Krisel. The Las Vegas National Golf Club on Desert Inn Road, around which Krisel and his partner, Dan Palmer, built their iconic Paradise Palms residential development, hosted Saturday’s events.

The first panel—Mid-Modern Architecture, Design, and Las Vegas--included architectural historian Alan Hess; Las Vegas architects George Tate and Robert Fielden, and Dr. Robert Tracy from UNLV’s School of Architecture. Following a slide show of mid-century architectural images from the Nevada State Museum, Tate, who has been working in Las Vegas for more than 50 years, entertained the audience with anecdotes and first-hand accounts of his work in mid-century, while Fielden, Hess, and Tracy provided historical, philosophical, and aesthetic perspectives.

The second panel of the afternoon—The Las Vegas News Bureau in the Mid-Mod Era--detailed the history of the Las Vegas News Bureau and its 60 years of promoting Las Vegas through visual media. The panel included Brian “Paco” Alvarez, curator for the News Bureau; Don Payne, former Bureau manager; and Darren Bush, Bureau photographer. Alvarez provided two slide shows of the News Bureau’s most famous and iconic images.

The film which followed the panels on Saturday—William Krisel, Architect—has been eagerly anticipated for some time. Krisel and his partner, Dan Palmer, were among the most influential architects in Mid-Century America. Palmer and Krisel were Mid-Century populists who brought the formerly elitist architecture to a mass market through construction of thousands of affordable middle-class homes. It was Krisel, more than any other architect long after he and Palmer split, who made Mid-Century Modern style and design popular.


The Mid Mod Marvels weekend wound up on Sunday with a four-hour tour of some of the finest of Las Vegas’s Mid-Century neighborhoods. After wrecking the bus on the way out of the parking lot of the Reed Whipple Cultural Center—which required everyone to debark and re-board—the tour got underway, led by architectural historian Alan Hess and Mid-Modern realtor “Uncle Jack” LeVine.

The tour passed through such 1950s-60s neighborhoods as Paradise Palms, Marycrest, Glen Heather and McNeil Estates, the Las Vegas Country Club, and the notorious Scotch 80s. Along the way there were three open house stops. While Hess put these Las Vegas neighborhoods into a historical and architectural perspective, Uncle Jack provided an entertaining monolog of intimate stories and anecdotes of the neighborhoods, of the people who lived there, and of their historical importance in the development of Las Vegas.


With two successful Mid-Century Modern cultural and educational events under their belt and with a widening circle of sponsors, we hope the Friends of Classic Las Vegas can keep up the momentum and turn these weekends into an annual event.




We hope you had a great time, too!


 Special thanks to Clay Heximer for providing the pictures.