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Moonlight Mid Mod Bus Tour

Morelli House Is Crown Jewel Of Recent Historic Preservation In Las Vegas

Morelli House Was Final Stop On The Moon Light Bus Tour Of Mid Century Modern Las Vegas – Part 7

Morelli_2We’ve been reporting all week on our midnite bus tour of the historic mid century modern heritage of Las Vegas. The tour was sponsored by the Atomic Age Alliance and the City of Las Vegas Department Of Cultural Affairs. We especially want to thank Richard Hooker for organizing it and MaryMargaret and Cary Stratton for guiding it. We were honored and privileged to have Chris Nichols narrate, with special commentary from Alan Hess.

Our final stop on the tour was at the Morelli House. It was built on the Desert Inn Golf Course in 1959 by Antonio Morelli, the fabled orchestra director of The Sands. It was moved to the corner of 9th and Bridger and now serves as the offices of the Junior League of Las Vegas.  

Junior League Of Las Vegas Shows The Morelli House To The Public With Vintage Fashion Show

Casual ware and the copper fireplaceAnd yesterday, many of you dropped in on the Junior League’s fall open house.

Diane Bush and Steven Baskin showed their collection of vintage clothing from the late 50’s and early 60’s.

If I’ve ever been called anything, fashionable is not a word that’s ever been used. I really got off on a lot of what I saw so I’m meeting with Diane later today with a few trusted clothes hound friends to put together some vintage wardrobe for me. Should be fun and I’ll report on it later.



In the meanwhile, here’s some of the fashion you missed if you didn’t stop in yesterday at the Morelli House.  

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Space Age Architecture Survives In The Vintage Urban Core Of Las Vegas

Moonlight Bus Tour Of Mid Mod Las Vegas – Part 6

scalloped roof line of the old Federated Employees Building at  2301 E. SaharaAfter a surprise midnite cocktail party at the “Caddy Shack”, MaryMargaret’s fantastic Paradise Palms time capsule of mid century modernism, we headed over to Sahara Ave. MM pointed out a building the preservationists are trying to save. So far, the current owner has agreed to build onto the existing structure to create his new strip mall. Hopefully, he’ll make the new parts match the historic mid mod building.

Lower Fremont Street, before it becomes Boulder Highway, holds several examples of the “space age” architecture that was common in Mid Century Modern commercial buildings.

space age mid century modern architecture on fremont street in las vegasThis is the Findley Auto Dealership. I’m reminded of a bank building back in Columbus, Ohio, which I thought was so cool when I was a little kid. My brother’s going to take a picture of it and send it to me. Watch for it, I’ll do a post on it the minute I get it it.

Many buildings like this and the Concha Motel Lobby dotted Fremont, Boulder, Charleston, Sahara and Las Vegas Blvd. All too many are now lost to the bulldozer. Fortunately, the La Concha has been saved and sits in storage awaiting it’s new life as the the new home of the Neon Museum.

PS: The best way to ever get to see MaryMargaret’s “CaddyShack” is to join the Atomic Age Alliance, and get involved in our efforts to save historic Las Vegas Architecture.

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The Moonlight Bus Tour – Part 5 – The Las Vegas Country Club

Las Vegas Country Club features Nuclear Power Plant  roof line. The clubhouse architect was Julian GabrielleMidnight’s good for seeing well lit buildings, but it wasn’t so great for seeing the clubhouse at the LVCC. It was totally dark, and the bus was outside the gates on Joe S. Brown Drive. We could see it about 100 yards away, but there wasn’t a light to be found.

I happen to have some photos that I shot last summer and promised the people sitting around me on the bus that I would publish them this week.

The LVCC is one of the finest examples of post and beam and natural material mid mod buildings that I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing.

Inside the curved beams that make up the roofline

Classic Mid Mod overhead and high windows at the Las Vegas Country Club

Dining room beams are elegantly curved

The famous Marnell House on 15th Street South of Oakey was modeled after the roof line of the LVCC. It was one of the stops on our history hunt last summer.

From The LVCC WEBSITE, A short history:

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The Rat Pack In Front Of The Sands Hotel Is The Iconic Las Vegas Photo Of All Time

The Moonlight Mid Mod Bus Tour – Part 4

Rat_packSandsIt took something REALLY exciting like a moonlight bus tour of Modernist Las Vegas to get me onto the strip on a Friday Night. But there we were looking for the original site of one of the preeminate photos of all time (as far as Vintage Las Vegas is concerned).

MM figured out from satellite photos of then and now exactly where the photo was taken. Well, exactly within about 10 feet. So that’s where we took the group photo of everyone on the bus tour.

The spot is now the front sidewalk of the Venetian.

And that’s the first time in 20 years anyone’s managed to make me go on the strip on a weekend night.

Bus tour particiapants at the same spot.

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Edward Durell Stone – Modernist Architect Given Credit For Use Of Decorative Block Facings

Edward Durell Stone.jpg2Our tour the other night and the subsequent discussions of the decorative block designs led me to do some homework on Edward Durell Stone.

His NYC Brownstone is one his most famous and most hated works. There’s some very interesting back story in this informative post from NYC-architecture.com

They use the term “Breeze Block” to describe the blocks. I like that term and may start using it myself. MaryMargaret used the term, named after Stone himself,  “Stone Screens”. Always in the past I’ve referred to them as “decorative block”.

Regardless of the name, I’m still obsessed with them.

Edward Durell Stone

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The Moonlight Bus Tour Of Mid Mod Las Vegas – Part 3

As I mentioned in part one, the first leg of the tour took us to some of the terrific motor hotels Todd Motor Hotelof the mid 1900’s. Las Vegas still has a huge inventory of existing ones. The preservationists among us would like to see them saved.

The Todd Motor Motel is one of the best examples of where the owners have embraced what they have and are proud of it instead of embarrassed by them. The pictures I took from the open air bus  didn’t come out very well, so I went back on Sunday to grab a better shot.

Notice, the folded roof carport, the diamond shaped railings, and the wonderful colors.

You’ll also see that I found the “urban landscape” van in the parking lot. I got some great shots of it in the daylight. All the previous pictures I had were done at night. He’s added dozens of new buildings since I saw it last.

Monterey Motel Mid Mod SignA lot of the discussion was about the terrific signage that was a major design element of the modernist commercial school. Also on Las Vegas Blvd, MM pointed out the space ship design on the Monterey Motel Sign. Take a drive for yourself along Fremont/Boulder Highway, and Las Vegas Blvd. You’ll see many great examples that still remain of the neon monuments of Vintage Vegas

Also, on the same stretch of the strip between Charleston and Sahara, you’ll find the recently closed “Garden of Love” wedding chapel. This terrific example of mid-mod restaurant design could become endangered now. It’s definitely on our watch list.

If you’re interested in helping to save these and other endangered examples of modernism, then check out the Atomic Age Alliance. AAA has published a book that was the basis for the tour we took. It’s a fundraising vehicle for group, and I highly recommend it. It’s called  Mondo Vegas, Touring Mid Century Modern Las VegasCurved roofline and overhangs on The Strip and it will help you find all the great buildings and neighborhoods.

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The Moonlight Mid Mod Bus Tour – Part 2

Double Horseshoe PatternWho would have thought that  the power plant of Circus Circus would prove to be an interesting spot on the tour?

MaryMargaret showed us the block screens surrounding the building. She was kind enough to mention VVV and the various posts that we’ve done in the past regarding Decorative Block Sun Screens,  and here  and here that were ubiquitous of the architectural design in Mid Century Modernism.

I’ve collected pictures so far of 37 different designs, and keep threatening to create a post showing all of them at once. I’m threatening to do once again. I’ll eventually get around to it.

A1 block screen designsOne of the interesting things that MM mentioned was that they were first created by a man named Block STONE! That’s why they’re called “stone screens”. I’ve always called them decorative block, since I didn’t know there was anyone to give credit to. (Thanks MM for setting the record straight in the comments)

I’ve only ever found one source on line for them, from a company out of Orlando Florida. A-1 Block Service

Lowes Depot only carries 2 very simple designs which I mentioned in one of the previous posts. I think there’s enough interest in Mid Mod now that some entrepreneurial soul could start a little backyard business designing new patterns and reproducing the old ones.

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Moonlight Tour of The Mid Century Modern Heritage of Las Vegas

Cover of Chris Nichols BookChris Nichols author of  “The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister” was a featured speaker yesterday at the Vegas Valley Book Festival. He also graciously conducted the tour along with MaryMargaret from the Atomic Age Alliance.

The Wiki entry on McAllister can fill you in on his life and work and influence in the creation of the strip. His work was a major topic of the tour. He designed the Desert Inn, The El Cortez, The Sands, The Fremont and his first work in Las Vegas, the El Rancho Vegas.

Tour Guide Chris Nichols and Atomic Age Alliance founder MaryMargaret StrattonThe mood on the double decker, open air bus shifted repeatedly from joy for the buildings remaining, to sadness for the treasures that have been lost. Both were pointed out along the way.

The most prominent emotion displayed by those on the tour was determination to save what is left and preserve it for the future.

Golden SteerOur first leg was a drive down Las Vegas Blvd on the way to one of the Icon Businesses of Vintage Vegas. The Golden Steer Steak House is on Sahara, just west of the strip. Red BoothIt’s been there since 1958, and is one of the best remaining examples of what Chris and Alan Hess call the “Red Booth” period of fine dining in America.

Tomorrow, I’ll publish the second installment. I didn’t attend First Friday last night, so instead of our usual week of First Friday Posts, we’ll give you a sampling of what we saw on the bus tour.

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