These vintage Downtown Vegas buildings could simply disappear tomorrow

Is this LVA’s architectural future?
Illustration: Ian Racoma

Last week, the Review-Journal suggested that Las Vegas Academy of the Arts’ main building—a handsome art deco structure, built in 1930—might be in danger of teardown. (The building needs expensive upgrades, which the Clark County School District can’t afford to make.) If that proves true, the former Las Vegas High School will join the Huntridge Theatre in a line of Downtown properties needing the attention, and dollars, that a historic preservation campaign can bring. But they’re far from the only properties in that queue. Here are just a few endangered others.

Victory Hotel (307 Main St.) This mission, revival-style two-story, built in 1910, is one of the oldest buildings in the Downtown resort corridor, an artifact of Las Vegas’ railroad days (it’s only steps away from where the depot used to be). The Victory is old enough for historic protection status, but doesn’t yet have it.

White Cross (1700 Las Vegas Blvd. S.) Unlike the other properties on this list, this former pharmacy (and, later, grocery) is still being used, at least partially: Old-school diner Vickie’s occupies a section of it. But this 1955 building needs a primary tenant—hopefully someone who will maintain White Cross’ neat blue-and-white façade.

Tod Motor Motel (1508 Las Vegas Blvd. S.) Downtown has lots of decrepit motels that need attention, but Tod Motor Motel, circa 1962, is a prime candidate for renewal: It’s pretty large (three stories, with an outdoor elevator) and has many of its original design elements still intact. Redoing the Tod as a Palm Springs-style boutique hotel could set a welcome precedent for saving Vegas’ other vintage motels.

Binion’s Gambling Hall (128 Fremont St.) The property’s casino is still open, as is the steakhouse on the 24th floor of its tower. But all the guest rooms in that tower, built in 1957 as the Mint—yes, where part of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is set—have been closed since 2009. Bad craziness, as Dr. Gonzo would say.

Reed Whipple Cultural Center (821 Las Vegas Blvd. N.) Good news: This mid-century building, circa 1963, has begun the process to get state and national historic protections. Someday, the Neon Museum-adjacent building might be the pride of a revamped Cultural Corridor. Hopefully, there’ll still be a city around it when that happens.

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