One of our favorite Classic Las Vegas neighborhoods is Paradise Palms. The homes off of East Desert Inn around what is now the National Golf Course are some of the best examples of mid-century architecture in Las Vegas.
The neighborhood was developed by Irwin Molasky and his Molasky Group back in the early 1960s. Molasky and his partners had built Sunrise Hospital and were developing the Boulevard Mall. The Boulevard Mall would have a profound effect on Las Vegas. Stores such as Sears, JC Penney's, Ronzone's and Woolworth's had been anchored on Fremont Street since the 1930s. Everyone shopped downtown. But with the building of the Boulevard Mall, enclosed and air-conditioned with plenty of free parking, these businesses and more moved in to the Mall and slowly shuttered their Fremont Street locales.
No longer did we have to shop on Fremont Street.
To go along with his dream of the Mall, Molasky wanted a housing development nearby that would provide foot traffic for the Mall. He hired the architectural firm of Palmer and Krisel to build the homes in what Molasky called Paradise Palms.
Palmer and Krisel had just completed building custom homes in Palm Springs and brought their mid-century modern sensibilities to Las Vegas. The homes in Paradise Palms were standard post and beam construction on a slab. The standard lot size was 40 x 40. To give the homes a more custom look, the various models were rotated on the lots and/or flipped to give a slightly different look to each home.
Different roof lines were available: folded plate, butterfly, ranch and dramatic overhangs. The homes had stone privacy screens and ornate block work as well.
Architecturally, they were very different from the homes found in the older Las Vegas neighborhoods. Those homes, dating back to the years leading up and including World War II were small, many were bungalow and Craftsman style. Sproul Homes, who was developing housing tracts on West Charleston, was building functional homes that had some unique design features but nothing on the scale of what Molasky wanted for Paradise Palms.
Our pal Alan Hess says of Palmer and Krisel: "They brought excellent and elegant modern design to mass-produced housing. That's significant because every big name in modern architecture at mid-century tried to crack into the mass-produced housing market. And they all failed. Palmer and Krisel, who weren't at all well-known, solved the problem."
The homes would be part of the Stardust Golf Course. Though the Stardust had plenty of land behind its hotel, they decided to put their Golf Course on East Desert Inn. The Course was designed by Bert Stamps. Stamps was renown Golf Course designer. Arnold Palmer originally set the original course record of 63 in 1967. The PGA and the LPGA were there yearly.
The Stardust sold the golf course to Del Webb in 1969 and it was renamed the Sahara Golf Course. In the 1980s, the course was sold again and the new owners briefly partnered with the Las Vegas Hilton. In the late 1990s, it became the Las Vegas National Golf Course.
Paradise Palms quickly became a must-have address for those who wanted to live in thoroughly modern home. Stars that regularly performed on the Las Vegas Strip bought homes in Paradise Palms because of its convenience to the famed Strip. Many had Palmer and Krisel homes in Palm Springs and loved the look and amenities that came with the homes. Stars such as Ginger Rogers, Sammy Davis Jr, Diana Ross and Shirley MacLaine all had homes on the Golf Course.
When Marty Scorcese was filming "Casino" in Las Vegas he needed a Classic Las Vegas home for the character of Sam "Ace" Rothstein (Robert DeNiro). The film was based on the exploits of Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal and Tony Spilitro. Rosenthal had lived on the Las Vegas Country Club but the exclusive Country Club would not permit filming there. Scorcese found a house on Cochise in Paradise Palms that would work just fine.
Today the homes on the Golf Course are endangered as a developer with an eye for high-rise condos has purchased the property. The homes in the surrounding neighborhood are being restored by home-owners interested not only in mid-century modern architecture but historical neighborhoods as well. Our pals at veryvintagevegas.com love this neighborhood and if you are interested in living in Paradise Palms, we encourage you to contact the crew at veryvintagevegas.
Dan Palmer died last year but his partner, William Krisel, is still alive and enjoying the renaissance of interest in his work.
Here are some items from RoadsidePictures to give you an idea of some of the homes in Paradise Palms: