But many of us have known Clay for quite some time. He and his wife Denise live in Paradise Palms, the wonderful Mid-Century Modern housing tract that surrounds the National Golf Course, just off Desert Inn behind the Boulevard Mall.
When I was growing up in Las Vegas in the 1960s, the National Golf Course was then known as the Stardust Golf Course. But it wasn't the golf course that caught my eye. It was the houses, most of which were visible from the car as you drove down East Desert Inn.
Those wonderful Palmer and Krisel were space age wonders and very different from the Sproul homes in my own neighborhood in Charleston Heights.
Clay and Denise live in Paradise Palms and their successful community outreach and history sharing has inspired many of their neighbors to learn more about their homes and the history of the neighborhood.
Clay has been organizing and fighting to bring Historic Preservation ordinances to Clark County and he has been successful in convincing others to join his cause.
As we close Preservation Month and the Preservation Spotlight series winds down, it was important to me to include a grass-roots leader of history and preservation in the series.
Clay graciously agreed to answer some questions and spread the word about the importance of our neighborhoods, all of our historic neighborhoods.
CLV Blog: How did you become interested in preserving Southern Nevada history?
Heximer: Before moving to town I remember taking a family trip to Las Vegas. I recall sitting in the back of my uncle’s station wagon, driving down the strip. I was in awe of all the neon but I specifically thought the Stardust sign was the coolest thing ever. Since then, I just knew there was something special about this place and had gained an appreciation for classic Vegas.
When I was 19, I worked with a construction company that was contracted the prep the Dunes for implosion. I remember being taken back by the celebration of the destruction of our history and was shocked by the disregard for this Las Vegas icon.
CLV Blog: Why are our neighborhoods and MCM architecture important to preserve?
Heximer: We live in a throw away culture. There is a stigma here if its old, its no good. When I tell people outside of my community where I live they are either unfamiliar with the area or they tell me I live in "the ghetto'. I explain that our neighborhood has a rich history and a great sense of community.
Once people have seen what we have to offer it really changes their perspective. This really is the case for most of the older neighborhoods in town. People are moving into these communities because they want a piece of history. There is a uniqueness to mid century architecture that you just don't see any more. There is so much style and design that it truly becomes an art form.
CLV Blog: Can you talk a bit about your dedication to preserving Las Vegas history.
Heximer: Las Vegas history is something I have always been interested in, however, I didnt know how to get involved. When we moved into Paradise Palms, we looked into what we could do to be a part of the preservation efforts. To our surprise, there was no such activity. We looked into what preservation pioneers Jack Levine and Heidi Swank were doing to maintain the integrity of their neighborhoods and used their efforts as our blueprint.
We have organized neighborhood clean ups, neighborhood watch programs and have monthly socials that have turned neighbors into friends. Inspired by the historic designation of John S. Park, we sought out similar recognition for Paradise Palms and learned there was no mechanism for historic destination in Clark County. We started working with Chris Giunchigliani to adapt a historical ordinance for Clark County. We are presently in the beginning stages of actively pursuing historic designation.
CLV Blog: What's the future of preservation of this history in Las Vegas?
Heximer: There has been an influx of information and press on the topic of preserving Las Vegas history.. There are more and more people everyday who are starting to get it and Im cautiously optimistic.
Knowledge is key.
CLV Blog: What's the biggest obstacle to overcome in preserving Las Vegas history and why?
Heximer: I feel that our biggest obstacle is those who are unwilling to have an appreciation for our city's past. Our residential areas are at risk by flippers and investors who are coming in and destroying the unique features of the properties.
They are demolishing the decorative block walls, ripping out original kitchens and bathrooms, and taking out features of the home that gave it character.
CLV Blog: Why is history and preservation work important to Las Vegas residents?
Heximer: This is Las Vegas! There is no other city like it.
It's important to preserve our history because we are a town built around erasing it's past.
Remember, History is what binds us to our community!
Be sure to check out Clay's website: Paradise Palms
I want to thank everyone who participated in Preservation Spotlight this month. They all took time out of their busy schedules to share their thoughts and ideas with us on why history and preservation is important not only to them but to all of us who love Las Vegas.
Let us know what you think of the series in the Comments section!