Saturday, March 02, 2013

Meadows resort

Meadows Resort Las Vegas 
Back around 1959-1960 we had occasion to move to Sunrise avenue apartments, Unlike today, at that time they were very exclusive and mostly only fairly well to do folks lived there. It was the end of town and where Fremont met Boulder highway. Eastern stopped at Charleston and what is now North Eastern was 25th St. up to the North Las Vegas City limit. Anyway as seen on this map there is and was an empty lot connecting the "5 points East" intersection. Back then it was even emptier and Eastern hadn't yet cut trough it to connect to 25th. There was a huge Pile of debris from a demolished building there and the kids were always rummaging through it to find souvenirs of a long forgotten hotel. That Hotel called The Meadows Resort, was built in 1931 in hopes of catching the influx of people sure to flock to Vegas during the depression now that gaming had become legal. Mob run by the Connero brothers (Same Connero 25 years later who built the Stardust) It received one of the first of 7 Gambling licenses in 1931 and was considered the first "resort" hotel in Las Vegas. There was nothing at all on the strip yet and Boulder highway at that time was considered the Place to build. With the Dam started a couple of years later the influx of migrants looking for work was bound to make this place a sure winner. Alas it didn't happen that way, and it's a long story of mob rivalry and internal shenanigans, but the place mysteriously caught fire just a year after it was built. It re-built and reopened and stayed open until the early 40's with a reputation as a "Resort Brothel" When the War came and Nellis Gunnery range started bringing in teams of soldiers the City put the kibosh on the brothel and the place mysteriously burned down again, with Connero heading for California to fight another day.

Location Map of Old Meadows Resort

Enhanced by Zemanta

Where does Fremont St end & Boulder Highway begin?

That may sound like an easy question at first and by today's standards it is. it's all mapped out and various boundary lines are drawn and it's pretty cut and dried. But up until the mid 60's such was not the case.

A little trip back in time first. From the migrations of natives during the last Ice age up to about statehood in 1864, the valley was known as "the Gathering Place". It wasn't until some unknown Spanish soldier on a scouting expedition referred to it as Vegas (Meadows) and the name stuck, has the valley been called Las Vegas. It was called the gathering place for 10,000 years because yearly migrations of countless bands, tribes, and groups of Natives would come here to refresh. supply and rest on trade and hunting forays from Northern Nevada, Arizona/Colorado/New Mexico area to Old Mexico. The Sloan Canyon Petroglyphs attest to this and the various Native artifacts found especially during the founding years of the City paint a different map than the one we are familiar with today.

The old Spanish trail crossed the Colorado river and continued through the valley upward to Mountain Springs and into California, The Mormon trail from Salt Lake Southward through the same valley. It was still even after European encroachment, an area of gathering, with its high water table, marshes and plentiful wildlife, it was a veritable oasis in the midst of nowhere.

If you were here when the Old Mormon fort on Washington and Las Vegas Blvd North was built, you would see it was placed at a spot exactly 4 miles from the Las Vegas Springs to the west (Alta & Valley View today) and 4 miles to the Fourmile Springs to the Southeast. (an 8 mile round trip with water wagons was about the max one would want to venture, a full days excursion) Even as late as mid 1950 's you could see remnants of the "trail" from the fort to the Fourmile Springs.
Fourmile Springs

When the town was first dedicated in 1905; that happened where Main and Fremont come together today at the place just a bit North of the Plaza Hotel. Why? because it is the highest spot in the valley. A creek used to run behind there not too far and parallel to the railroad tracks. But folks would still travel out to the Springs for the excellent artesian waters. No wells had been made yet so the natural springs were the place to go. if you draw a line down Fremont street and out today's Boulder highway exactly 4 miles you will end up at the same spot the Mormons traveled from the fort to the Four Mile Springs. On a map of today that would be just about where Boulder Station is.

The springs were off today's highway somewhat and have long since run dry. But that area from Eastern/25th St to the Fourmile springs and the immediate surrounding area became known simply as Fourmile, or after WWII Fourmyle. Remember my story of the Meadows hotel built at 5 points East, and how it ended up becoming a 'Resort Brothel'? After the closure of block 16 during the second world war (Block 16 is where the California Hotel is today) there was a lot of contention about prostitution and it's legalization and whatnot. A simple search will garner you a dozen pages on that history and politics, and political dealings so I need not go into it here. Suffice it to say, The owners of Brothels and the girls had to find someplace else to go. Fourmile was just outside of town but still close enough, seemed like the ideal place to be. So between the 40 's and the mid 50 's there were about a dozen houses/lounges and mini resorts from 5 points to Fourmile. The Fourmyle district was never a true township. The area just to the north was known as Meadows Acres and that area was home to what we would call 'trailer trash' today. Most of them the workers and the girls who worked at the brothels.

Roxie's Fourmyle - It's Federal raid that shut it down
After the demise of the Meadows resort brothel there was Roxie's Fourmile. Variously referred to as Roxie's Fourmyle hotel, Roxie's Fourmile lounge, Roxie's Fourmyle and eventually the locals just referred to it as either Fourmyle or Roxies. Started by an ex Los Angeles Policeman and his wife, Eddie and Roxie Clippinger, the place was the place to go until its final shutdown after a federal raid in 1954. From the Green Shack (Later an up and up supper club to Formyle there were other places that dotted that whole Boulder Strip (it wasn't called that yet). Little Club, Kit-Kat Club, Kassabian Ranch, C-Bar-C, and finally Roxie's. During this time the City didn't want to annex it and have that a part of the upstanding citizens of Las Vegas, so Fremont Street ended at 5 points. Finally when it all shut down the laws about prostitution were held up and the area became legit. They built the Showboat hotel in 54-55, Green Shack became a supper club, and the other places were either burned or torn down. (The Showboat was then given a Fremont St address and Fremont St to Saraha the actual boundary of the city limt).The Showboat with its Southern theme and the nude paintings all about, even in the restaurant where youngsters could go, was the last vestige of the old days in the area. Sal & Rusty's amusement Arcade was at the south of the Showboat, The Skyway drive in movie theatre across from the old Roxie's and Funland Amusement park even further out was built trying to change the image of the area. Just past the old Roxies Fourmyile to this day there is still the Four Mile Bar. A dive bar by today's standards, it still exists however for the locals in the area.

Four Mile Bar Today
 All that land down there was owned by the Laughlin's. Son Don, ended up starting the town of Laughlin to the south. That too had its seedy side, As the prostitute trade from Railroad Pass to Searchlight back in those years catered to the mining trade from RR Pass to Searchlight and the mining camps in between. At one time that road to Searchlight was dotted with as many as 50 brothels. There are back stories I could tell of notable Las Vegans who made a lot of bucks off those places, but I dare not on a simple post such as this and open myself up for legal action. But some of the stories are fascinating, cute, and downright amazing and it is in that light I see names in the history books that cause me to chuckle and think to myself "if they only knew".

Green Shack Supper Club in it's last years

Boulder Highway was named that because of Boulder Dam of course, before that it was referred to as highway 95; and why it didn't become the main thoroughfare to the Dam in later years and another freeway was built instead is a whole other story with Helen Herr the first lady Nevada State Senator. You'll notice today's freeway passes over Boulder Highway right where Roxi's used to be. Stay tuned

Map of Fremont and Boulder Highway
Roxies building as it stands today (2013)

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, January 12, 2013

"Kill Bill" - Another Name change & major Renovation:

Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon, 3595 Las Vegas Blvd South (SW corner of Flamingo and the Strip) Closed this month (Feb 2013) the owners (Caesars Entertainment Corporation) has announced renovation to a boutique hotel. The renovated hotel and casino is expected to open in early 2014, under a new name.

A short history

The first place built there on what was an unpaved State Route 592 (now known as Flamingo Rd. and Hwy 91 now known as 'the Strip') was the Desert Villa Motel, right next to the New Flamingo Hotel. The Owners wanted to pick up on the tourists who were visiting the new hotel. The Motel stayed in business for many years finally succumbing to an ownership change in the 70's then calling themselves Times Square Motel. Eventually in 1979, after demolishing the Motel, It opened as the Barbary Coast Hotel & Casino.  In July 2005, Coast Casinos, including the Barbary Coast, was bought by Boyd Gaming. In 2007, Boyd (gave) the Barbary Coast to Harrah's Entertainment in an exchange agreement. After a fresh coat of paint, (a different shade of brown) the Hotel Became Bill's Gamblin' Hall. (Named after Bill Harrah, I'm told) The Hotel wasn't anything fancy in terms of today's Mega- resorts. Just a box in the Desert architecturally speaking, Only interested in the tables and the profits gleaned therefrom. It never quite competed with the Strip resorts with it's Downtown 'style' and like the Motel before it, just being next to a Famous bigger place, doesn't yield enough bread crumbs to make a viable business in today's strip Gaming/Tourist Market, Then in November of 2012, Caesars Entertainment Corporation, the current owner [2013] revealed that Bill's Gamblin' Hall will close on February 4, 2013 for renovation to a boutique hotel. A click on their web-page and you’ll get the notice popup before entering the home page.

New Name, New Look - to the tune of 185 million USD

So now that Caesars' has the ball, they want to make it a "Boutique Hotel" Which by it's very definition is confusing. That could mean anything from a resort style Bed & Breakfast to a miniature resort hotel, I suspect the latter is the idea. So what will the new name be? That's an interesting question. In today's texting world of abbreviations, we have already seen the Fitzgerald become "D" Imperial Palace become Quad, the new Sahara redo will be SLS. So I suspect similar here. Long names on corporate papers may sound impressive but to the guy on the street they aren't. Heck even before mobile phones and texting, locals always nicknamed/shortened the names of their favorite haunts. Trop, Riv, etc... I mean did you ever really call the Plaza, “Jackie Gaughn’s Plaza Hotel and Casino”? People couldn't wait to take the ‘Union’ off after the Railroad left. A one name, one syllable moniker would be most sufficient. If you stop and think about it, the ‘one names’ have always stuck around and didn't changed any names. I'd love to hear some thoughts as to a good name. One final thought; don’t name it for something that's already been and gone. Let those names stand on their own vintage and historical legacy. Castaways tried that when it renamed San Souci, and again when Showboat renamed to Castaways, not only confusing, but very disrespectful of Vegas legacy. Whatever Caesar's Ent. decides, I hope they think it through in this era of "Branding" that seems to be so important.

External Links