A sense of history can get lost in a city that’s constantly reinventing itself, but thankfully some of Vegas’ oldest and most iconic neighborhoods still offer a connection to the past.
The Nevada Preservation Foundation, which has worked to protect and enhance the city’s historic sites and structures since its founding in 2013, will host tours of these historic communities during its annual Home + History Las Vegas fundraiser. the weekend of April 29 to May 1.
The event will include walking tours of neighborhoods such as McNeil Estates, Paradise Palms and the historic Downtown Las Vegas High School Neighborhood. There’s also a Vintage Vegas Home Tour that offers a look at some of the Valley’s most lovingly restored and remodeled classic homes.
This is the first time in two years that Home + History has not been canceled or reduced due to COVID-19 restrictions. According to Amy Raymer, Nevada Preservation Foundation board member and programming committee chair, there are, in fact, new additions to the program this year, including a self-guided tour that winds through a cross-section of communities. oldest between Charleston and Oakey boulevards. .
Also new this year is the Fake-itecture Walk + Talk along the Strip. The guided tour will visit hotels such as The Venetian and Paris Las Vegas and provide fun details about the architecture and designs that were used to create some of the Strip’s most distinctive landmarks, Raymer said.
But it wouldn’t be a trip through vintage Las Vegas without highlighting the city’s mid-century modern architecture of the 1950s and 1960s, what Raymer called the “futuristic design” of its day.
The nostalgic, old Vegas vibe that accompanies these simple low floors, large windows, clean lines and decorative concrete facades is still popular with locals and visitors who go on tours, Raymer said. The Nevada Preservation Foundation’s website, in fact, bills this year’s three-day fundraiser as a “cool Vegas celebration.”
“When people think of the golden age of Las Vegas, they think of Sinatra and they think of Sammy Davis Jr. … and then they think of casino style,” she said.
Paradise Palms, which was recently designated a Layered Historic District, is full of 1960s custom homes created by architects Dan Palmer and William Krisel, pioneers of mid-century modern designs who helped define the iconic look of communities such as Palm Springs, California.
The palm-studded neighborhood, Las Vegas’ first planned community, is 2 miles east of the Strip near UNLV. Over the years, celebrities such as Johnny Carson and Debbie Reynolds have owned residences here.
Another hidden gem planned for a walking tour is McNeil Estates, in the heart of the city’s medical district, near the University Medical Center. The first model home was built in 1949, flanked by open desert and mesquite forest, according to Nevada Preservation Foundation Fellow Mitchell Cohen, who will guide the McNeil Estates tour.
Over the years, approximately 600 residences were built on the development’s spacious grounds, including several ranch-style homes built in the 1950s and 1960s. including doctors, lawyers, artists such as Mary Kaye and Sonny King, and at least one mobster, Cohen said.
But what really makes the community unique is the number of longtime occupants, including some of the original residents who never left, Cohen said. The tour, titled Doorstep Diaries of McNeil, will include visits with some of the historic district’s most dedicated occupants, who will share their memories of the community.
“You’ll see some pretty interesting architecture, but just as interesting – probably more so – is the social history of the place, both the people who live there now and who used to live there,” he said.
“They are very tight too. They have lots of social events. That’s why diaries are going to be so cool. There are people who are really proud of this neighborhood and it’s part of who they are, keeping it alive.
While the walking tours tell the stories of the neighborhoods from the outside, Sunday’s Vintage Homes Tour will give ticket holders the chance to see inside some of the city’s best-maintained classic homes.
This year’s tour includes homes tucked away in historic John S. Park and Beverly Green neighborhoods near downtown and two Palmer and Krisel-designed “showstoppers” in the Paradise Palms area, Raymer said.
“We’re really excited because we also have homes in the historic Westside for the first time,” she said.
One of the two houses that will be featured is a Tudor revival built in the early 1930s by LeRoy Christensen, known as “The Castle”. The front of the house has a turret made of stones donated to the family from a nearby rail yard, Raymer said. The stones were likely extracted from the Colorado River during the construction of the Hoover Dam.
Raymer also noted that several of this year’s homes are literally “time capsules,” retaining the style of the era, even down to vintage appliances.
Other Home + History events will include a Cocktail Martini Tour, a special presentation at the Neon Museum and a sunset walking tour along Fremont Street with cultural planner Richard Hooker. A schedule of events and details on purchasing tickets are available at nevadapreservation.org.