VIDEO VAULT: These 11 historic Nevada locations could be lost to time
LAS VEGAS (KSNV) —
The largest statewide preservation group in Nevada is out with its annual list of 11 Most Endangered Places. These are sites with significant historical value that might just get the wrecking ball or otherwise disappear unless something is done.
"We have lost some important pieces of our past," says Richard Bryan, chairman of the Preserve Nevada board, a former U.S. senator and governor, and a Nevada resident since 1942. "But we can and must save what we do have, and our list is designed to bring attention to those historic sites most in need of attention."
Specific targets around the state for preservation include the Reno Mercantile and Goldfield High School. There are also some spots that are very familiar to Las Vegas residents.
"Well see, I grew up here in Vegas, so then I remember the Huntridge and coming to the movies here," Judy Dixon told News 3 in 1992. "So I think it's excellent to have it open again."
The Huntridge Theater on East Charleston opened in 1944 and was a premiere movie house here for decades before losing market share in a changing industry.
"In the past 10 years, because of the advent of the new styles of theaters—the 12-theater complexes and those types things—the Huntridge hasn't been able to be a profitable enterprise," promoter and new owner Richard Lenz said in 1992.
"And so the reason I was interested in it is that I've been in the entertainment business for 20 years, and I felt that I had the necessary avenues available to me to turn it into a performing arts theater."
While Lenz found more than a decade of success with his revamped Huntridge Theater, it closed again in 2004 and has been shuttered ever since, despite a succession of preservation efforts.
"People have come and spoken over and over again on behalf of this place," noted Joey Vanas from the organization Huntridge Revival in May 2014. "When enough people believe in the same thing, so it shall be."
Currently, the city of Las Vegas has no active plans to save the Huntridge Theater.
Just a couple of miles away at Main and Bridger stands a dilapidated two-story structure with boarded-up windows.
"It's one of the oldest buildings still standing in downtown Las Vegas," observes archeologist Nathan Harper.
The Victory hotel, as it became known, is clearly in need of some preservation. Either that, or it's going to get the wrecking ball. But if not preservation, there's at least a re-creation in the Las Vegas Springs Preserve using its original name: the Lincoln Hotel.
"It was called the Lincoln Hotel because at the time, Clark County didn't exist yet," explains Harper. "It was Lincoln County. So they named it after the county."
Harper strives to maintain interpretive accuracy at "Boomtown 1905," a recent addition to the Springs Preserve that re-creates the feel of downtown Las Vegas in the first decades of the 20th century.
"Obviously it's not as deep, and really it's just a facade," he says, comparing the Lincoln Hotel re-creation with the original structure. "It's sort of a storefront where we have a couple of rooms inside. We have a reception area where you can go to the front desk and check in and write your name, ring the bell. And we also have a hotel room for that period with the bed and steamer trunks and these types of things."
While Boomtown has a half dozen re-creations of historic buildings, there is one section that features some actual structures, which were highlighted in Preserve Nevada's first 11 Most Endangered Places list 15 years ago.
"Railroad cottages are in a prime location downtown," Dr. Andy Kirk told News 3 in 2003. "It's just valuable, valuable land. And most people don't look at a little tiny 800 square foot house and think that's the best use for prime real estate."
"These were built by the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad anywhere between 1910 and 1911," explains Harper. "The four that we have here were moved to our property in 2005, where they sat while we tried to get the proper funding to make sure that we took care of these cottages properly."
Once the money was secured, the houses were very slowly and carefully moved to their present position along the west side of the Boomtown 1905 exhibit. One of them has been stocked with furnishings and dry goods from around the time they were built. All four were brought into compliance with modern standards for structural stability and safety.
"But for the most part, you're looking at these cottages as they would have looked when they were originally built," says Harper. "The roof colors, the trim colors, all of those things you see here represent what were called out on the original plans for these cottages, which were in possession of UNLV Special collections."
While the goal of Preserve Nevada is to maintain historical sites in as similar a condition as possible to the original, moving a structure from one location to another and then restoring it counts as a success.
"Nevada has a rich heritage,” summarizes Bryan. “We have an obligation to preserve it, and that’s what Preserve Nevada is all about.”