A Brief History of Downtown (cont.)

Fourth and Fremont

When I was a kid, there was no better place on Fremont Street than Coronets Five, Dime and 25 cent Store.  Trader Bill's was a very close second because of that wonderful smell of leather, but Coronets had toys and games for kids.  It may have even had a soda fountain but don't quote me on that until I do some more research.

Coronets stood on the corner of Fourth and Fremont and had a roof top neon sign that was a thing of beauty.  Roof top signs were popular on Fremont.  The El Portal Theater's only signage for awhile was its roof top sign.  The El Cortez had a roof top sign, the Pioneer Club had one (still there but endangered) and the one across the street on the old Las Vegas Pharmacy pointing towards the Pioneer Club.

Next to Coronets was Jerry's Snack Bar which became a Jewelry Store.  Next door to that was Orange Julius.   Orange Julius drinks were heaven on earth on a hot summer day.

Next to Orange Julius was the Carl Ray Professional Building.  This building was built around 1920 with a turquoise front and gold fleck lettering on a sign above the door.  Each office upstairs had gold fleck lettering on the windows so that the doctors, dentists and attorneys could advertise their offices. 

Next to the Carl Ray Building was Chic Hecht's Store for Women.  We didn't have big department stores and certainly no malls until Irwin Molasky built the Boulevard Mall in the mid-1960s, so women who wanted fashionable clothes shopped downtown.  My mother bought her second wedding dress at Chic Hecht's.

Next door to Chic Hecht's was Mr. B's.  We are still researching Mr. B's. Next door to Mr. B's was Berta's Specialities.   This was one of those stores in the 1960s that sold busts of Beethoven and what passed for cultured items to display in your home.

On the corner of Fifth (Las Vegas Blvd) and Fremont was a Chevron Service Station.  We had a lot of gas stations in the downtown area and as you will see in the upcoming pages, many of them were on Fremont Street or one of the near by feeder streets. 

Before the days of the highway interstate and freeways, Las Vegas Blvd was the main road to travel to Los Angeles or to Salt Lake City, and as luck would have it, it intersected with Fremont Street.  Having that main thoroughfare helped turn Fremont Street into Glitter Gulch with all its neon and flicker bulb signage. 

Today, where Coronets once stood is today a Walgreens and the Neonopolis Parking Garage.

Where Mr. B's was first a bar called Race Rock and is now the tiki bar, Mickey Finzz.

Where Berta's Specialities and the Chevron Station once stood is now Hennessy's Tavern.

A Brief History of Downtown (cont.)

Fitzgeralds - at Third and Fremont

This property was originally a mercantile store shortly after the land auction of 1905.  It was owned by a couple who spent most of their lives traveling around the Southwest.

In its heart of the community era, Sewell's Market was on this corner and was one of the most successful markets in the downtown area.  When Sewell's moved to another location, this became the site of CH Baker Shoes.  Next door was Pott's Store for Men. 

CH Baker Shoe Ad

CH Baker Shoe Ad

CH Baker Shoes was a wonderful store, very popular with showgirls and women who were interested in the fashions of the day.  Kids, boys especially,  would have there faces pressed against the glass looking at the glamourous women trying on shoes.

In 1971, CH Baker and Potts Mens Store were closed and the property became an office building.  Next door were Schwartz Brothers Mens Wear (I guess guys still needed more mens stores back then), Zale's Jewelers, the Silver Dollar Trading Post, a McDonald's and a Thrifty Drugs.

Before it was a McDonalds, that property was the Hickory Wood Pit BBQue which had roasting chickens in the window.  Old timers still fondly remember that smell. 

In 1937, JC Penney's had a store and catalogue department at 319 Fremont Street.  It was an old brick building (still is) with a second floor.  Old timers remember the second floor was where the change was made.  Pneumatic tubes ran from the second floor to the check out counters and sales clerks would take your money, put it in the tube with your bill, press the button and the tube would carry your money upstairs where change was made and the tube sent back down to the counter.  Penney's later moved further east on Fremont where the Fremont Medical Building is today.

When Penney's moved, the property likely became Thrifty Drugs.  The second floor was where large items such as furniture were sold, a rather novel idea fordrug stores in todays' way of thinking. Today, it is Tiffany's Souvenir Shop.

Tiffany's Souvenirs Gifts

Tiffany's Souvenirs Gifts

Next to Tiffany's on the western corner of Fourth and Fremont today sits the Western Village with a gold rush miner on the roof.  This originally was Indian Joe's Souvenirs and Western Indian Wear.  Next door was Franklin's Women's Wear in a small building but it made up in length what it lacked in width. 

In 1979, the Sundance Casino opened on the corner.  In 1987, it became Fitzgerald's and the mascot was a leprechaun known as Mr. Lucky.  When the hotel rebranded itself a few years ago, Mr. Lucky was sent to the Neon boneyard.  While in the boneyard, he met with an unfortunate fire of suspicious nature and was badly damaged.

Special thanks to Allen Sandquist!