Las Vegas Sun

July 31, 2014

Places threatened by the times

Preservation group’s list of endangered places includes Southern Nevada landmarks

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Las Vegas Sun File

The remains of the Cook Bank building in Rhyolite are silhouetted against mountains. The ghost town was founded by miners and pioneers in the early 20th century after gold was discovered nearby.

Preserve Nevada recently named its 11 endangered places throughout the state — as the nonprofit statewide preservation group has for the past six years.

Nothing legislative. No fundraising. Just a gentle nudge to let the public know what’s on the chopping block, before the wrecking ball, forgotten, neglected or eroding.

Cemeteries, courthouses, schools, streets, railroad cars, hotels and even towns are common items on the lists, which are updated regularly. For more information, go to preservenevada.unlv.edu.

Following a template similar to the World Wildlife Fund’s we provide a quick glance at Southern Nevada sites that made this year’s list.

Why not the Huntridge Theatre? It was on last year’s list.

Maude Frazier Hall

Habitat: urban, mixed foliage, institutional

Geographical location: UNLV, South Maryland Parkway

Interesting facts: Completed in 1956, this stylish little midcentury modern building started the University of Las Vegas Nevada campus, which was known in Vegas vernacular as “Tumbleweed Tech.” It served as the extension office for the University of Nevada, Reno. The first classes were held in the 13,000-square-foot building, named after Maude Frazier, a local teacher, principal, superintendent and driving force for building Las Vegas High School and creating a Southern Nevada college campus. Survival has been dependent on its ability to change aesthetically. It now serves as the office for the registrar and admissions. Campus officials would like to replace the building, which serves as the gateway to the campus, with something more contemporary and welcoming. Preservationists see historic, architectural and sentimental value.

Rhyolite

Habitat: Isolated, extreme desert climate

Geographical location: Entrance to Death Valley, four miles from Beatty.

Interesting facts: This Nevada ghost town was briefly a thriving community inhabited by pioneers and miners in the early part of the 20th century after gold had been discovered in the nearby hills. The town erupted in the harsh desert climate of Southern Nevada in 1904. A year later it was on its way to becoming a bustling town of nearly 10,000 and boasted electricity, stores, hotels, a school, a jail, taverns, a train station and an opera house. The financial panic of 1907 had devastating effects on Rhyolite. By 1910 it was nearly deserted. In 1916 power had been shut down and Rhyolite was a ghost town. It’s threatened by lack of financial support and by lack of on-site caretakers.

Paradise Elementary School

Habitat: Dry, partly grassy, mostly residential, pavement, busy roads

Geographical location: Tropicana Boulevard and Swenson Street

Interesting facts: This ranch-style elementary school was introduced to Southern Nevada in 1949 and served as an educational habitat for generations of Las Vegas families long before students were schlepped to different schools every year. But growth and progress encroached on the school that co-habitated with busy traffic and massive rumbles from planes departing and arriving at the nearby airport. The last day of school was June 4, 1998. McCarran International Airport purchased the property. Students were transported to a lab school on the UNLV campus. Preservationists fear that a monorail extension to the airport — still a pipe dream — would threaten the nearby school’s potential to be added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Las Vegas Historic District

Habitat: residential

Geographical location: Bounded by Sixth and Ninth and Gass and Clark

Interesting facts: This pre-World War II neighborhood of mostly middle class, single-family homes is considered the oldest residential neighborhood in Las Vegas; it is south of the old Las Vegas High School at 315 S. Seventh St. Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1991, the well-preserved homes are made of varying architectural styles — Tudor revival, vernacular, Mission — but the habitat is endangered by demolition and redevelopment. Natives are friendly and walking tours are common in the area. Preservationists worry that architectural integrity is being compromised by businesses taking over homes and redeveloping, often increasing the size of the structures.

Building 100, Date Street Complex

Habitat: pavement, gravel, industrial

Geographical location: Date Street in Boulder City

Interesting facts: Designed by Paul Webb, the architect who designed the Boulder Dam Hotel, Building 100 was the administrative building for the U.S. Bureau of Mines, which operated a Metallurgy Research Laboratory. The building is now owned by Bureau of Reclamation and is part of its Date Street Complex. It is deemed historically significant by preservationists for its role in early Boulder City and World War II. The building has been gutted and is slated for demolition.

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