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Chapter one – 1912, The Northern Hotel and Bar Opens in Las Vegas.

Late in 2017, with the demolition flag flying, the site of where the historic Northern Hotel and Bar once stood on Fremont Street, in downtown Las Vegas, is almost ‘restored’ to when the town was created in 1905.

In 1905 it was a flat piece of land covered in alfalfa, today, 2018 bits and pieces of old tile mark the spot where history was made, several times over.

For decades the rough and tumble development of gambling was made at the Northern.  Now it is just an empty space behind a billboard, hiding ….progress.  

 

An aerial map of central Nevada farm land? Nope!  Just what is left of the site where the Northern Hotel bar once was.

No plaque marks the spot, no effort has been made so far to reveal to the passing public, the history that occurred on this spot.

 

 

 

It is a sad and unnecessary way to put a period after the words Northern Hotel and Bar.

The Northern’s history, on Block 3, lot 27, began in 1912 by starting a beer war.

The Northern would become home to colorful, and infamous characters from Groesbeck, to the Stockers, to the Stearns, to Sedway and Siegel.

Add in Las Vegas resort visionary, Wilbur Clark and you have a building that often changed names and most certainly changed history.

(And, if you like, throw in mobster ‘Russian Louis’ for good measure.)

A review of the details of the story of the Las Vegas “Northern” reveals one the downsides of history on the web.

Once errors are made they get repeated over and over.  Then with many sites making the same mistakes, the fiction get footnoted as fact.

The focus of this series of reports will be, hopefully, to separate facts from fiction covering the first 30 years of the Northern’s life, plus its moments in the Hollywood spotlight.

As we dig into the history of the Northern and its owners, there are natural transitions in the story.   Currently this is the outline, but, it has changed several times since we started this project, and will likely change several more times as more information is unearthed.

Chapter one.  1912 The Northern Hotel and Bar Opens on Fremont Street.

Chapter two.   Northern Hotel and Bar – Raids –Illegal gambling and alcohol.

Chapter three.  The Stocker Era Begins. ‘Three wild and crazy guys!”

Chapter four.    The Northern and the Roaring Twenty’s Las Vegas Style

Chapter five.   The Northern.  1930’s, The Stocker Brothers buy from Mom and Dad.

Chapter six        The Northern and its role in legalizing Gambling.

Chapter Seven.     The 1930’s  The Brothers  lease to other Brothers. 

 (There is a lot to cover in the 1930’s.  Chapter 7 is likely to turn into chapters  8 and maybe 9.)

Tentative  Chapter eight. The Northern- Bugsy Siegel first door to Las Vegas.

Tentative  Chapter nine.   Wilbur Clark changes name of Northern.

Tentative   Chapter eight.   The Northern following World War II.

Tentative       Chapter ten.    The Northern becomes  ?

Tentative        Chapter Eleven.     Tomorrow. and Opinion Piece.

 

Before Chapter One, here is an image of the Northern’s days of glory and a look at Block 3, lot 27’s most recent role on Fremont Street, “a grind joint.”

A link to images of Lay Bayou being torn down.

https://vitalvegas.com/demolition-begins-downtown-la-bayou-casino/

Courtesy UNLV Special Collections 

 

Chapter one.   1912 –   

                               The Northern Hotel and Bar Opens on Fremont Street.

In mid-December of 1911, the Utah based “Salt Lake Brewery Company” purchased a lot on the south side of the first block of Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

With an alley separating the two properties, the land was adjacent to the then Nevada Hotel, now the Golden Gate Hotel-Casino.

When the “Salt Lake Brewery” purchased the land the “Baltimore Restaurant” was sitting on the lot.  Lot twenty-seven in Block 3.  The building, owned by Peter Buol,  was moved off the property and the land readied for a new structure. [i]

Las Vegas became an official incorporated city a few months earlier in June of 1911 and Buol was elected became its first mayor.

The land itself was owned by J. F. Dunn, identified as the Superintendent of the Oregon Short Line railroad.

That railroad was part of the Union Pacific Railroad system, which in turn was half owner of the Salt Lake Route railroad, which in turn was the most powerful entity in Las Vegas.   Which in turn would directly impact the the soon to be built Northern Hotel and Bar.

Stories about the railroad and its alleged concern about who owned the Northern would become part of the colorful history of the club.

Fred Leonard a Salt Lake City businessman, representing the brewing company, finalized the deal for the land.

Not quite final.  Before the decade was out, Leonard’s company would own the Northern.

The Las Vegas Age reported in its December 30, 1911 issue, the sale “marks the highest price yet paid for an unimproved business lot in this city, being at the rate of $140 per front foot.” [ii]    Other estimates of the price ran as high as $7,500.[iii]   The last estimate likely included the cost of construction.

The brewery company said it planned to build a two-story hotel, with a “cold storage plant underneath.” [iv]

The second story would house the fifteen room hotel, with “all modern conveniences including electric lights, gas, hot and cold water.”  [v]

The hotel office and a bar “fitted in a luxuriant manner”  would on the first floor, according to the brewery’s press release. [vi]

At the same time, local citizens were informed “Lon Groesbeck, who is known by thousands through the west, will be the local manager of the business and the name, taken from his old friend Tex Rickard, will be the Northern.” [vii]

Groesbeck leased the building, and would furnish the hotel and bar with his own funds.

Then published reports, a week before the hotel/bar would opening confirmed the name; “Las Vegas will soon be in line with other Nevada cities by possessing a Northern hotel and bar.  That is the name given to the handsome new hotel being built by the Salt Lake Brewing Co.”  [viii] 

From its start in Alaska to nearly every town in Nevada, there was a “Northern.”  Whether it was a hotel, or a saloon, no self-respecting Nevada mining camp or community was without a “Northern.”

Images from the author’s collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On page five of the March 23, 1912 issue of the Las Vegas Age is found; “The building is now practically completed except for some interior painting.  After setting the fixtures and completing the interior finish, which, it is expected may be done within ten days, the Northern will be ready to receive the public.”

“Not pretentious in size” Charles Squires, the newspaper’s publisher wrote, “The Northern will be the best appointed and handsomest architecturally of any similar resort in this city.” [ix]     

The west wall of the two story building was used as a large billboard for its owners, The Salt Lake City Brewing Company.

Groesbeck announced the formal opening of the new resort would be held the first week in April and invited “everybody” to inspect “the handsome new quarters and enjoying a sociable time.”  [x]

His boss, the Salt Lake beer brewer, had a “sociable” surprise for Las Vegas and the town’s saloon owners.

The city’s other weekly newspaper, the Clark County Review, was there opening night; “For a couple of hours Tuesday evening everything was free, including chicken sandwiches, and needless to state, business was rushing.”   [xi]     

  Charles Corkhill, publisher of the Review wrote Groesbeck announced to the already happy crowd he was permanently reducing the price of a glass of beer by more than 50%.[xii]

At that time every saloon in town was charging twelve and a half cents a glass, or two glasses of beer for “two-bits.”

The Salt Lake Brewing Company set the new rate at 5 cents a glass.  The moment, Corkhill wrote “marked an epoch in the miscellaneous history of Las Vegas.” [xiii]

“While the five cent innovation” made a “hit with the ultimate consumer,” Corkhill said, “the same cannot be said of the majority of saloon men, nearly all of whom have added arrows of “gloom” to their regular equipment for the entrapment of patrons.” [xiv]

Thus began the Las Vegas Beer War of 1912.

Adding up the saloons along north First Street and the hotels with bars along Fremont Street, there were 19 establishments where you could purchase beer in Las Vegas in 1912.

Two of the largest operations, Al James and his Arizona Club, and Merrit Pollard of the Overland Bar, at the corner of Main and Fremont Streets, immediately dropped their price to 5 cents a glass. [xv]

Author’s collection

The night after the opening of the Northern, the competing saloon operators met and agreed to contact the Maier Brewing Company of Los Angeles their main supplier of beer.

They hoped Maier would reduce the wholesale cost of bottles and kegs of beer. [xvi]

In the meantime, the agreed, each saloon operator was free to act as they wished. They also appointed Pollard as their representative to go to Los Angeles and meet with Maier.[xvii] 

 

1911 Maier’s Beer advertisement.

Pollard’s visit was unsuccessful.

Maier’s made “no concessions” in its wholesale prices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On his return Pollard, whose bar was on the first floor corner of the Overland Hotel, just across from the railroad depot began promoting the new price.

He put up a big banner with two foot lettering announcing the five cent beer.

Author’s collection

Over the next several weeks the beer war raged to the satisfaction of the consumer.

Soon most other saloon owners dropped their price.  Others held firm on their price, but offered larger glasses.

A couple of retail outlets said their liquid was worth the price, it was just better beer.

John Wesley Horden, owner of the Las Vegas Hotel and Bar said, he would “meet all competition in the price of beer.”  And to celebrate the five cent beer he would throw “a grand lunch and the best orchestra music the town affords.  Manager Horden says he does not propose to remain in the rear of any procession that he is in.”   [xviii]

The last holdout was the Lincoln Hotel on Main Street.  (The building, now known as the Victory Hotel, is still standing, as of February, 2018.)

The price of beer was now five cents a glass and stayed that way for many years.

The Beer War of 1912 marked the beginning of a long and colorful history of the building that started life as the Northern Hotel and Bar.

While Alonzo,“Lon” Groesbeck made many friends in Las Vegas with his five cent beer  he also made important enemies.

In Chapter two, “The Northern Hotel and Bar – Raids –Illegal gambling to alcohol.” 

Also coming up later in Chapter Three, recently uncovered documents reveal one of Stocker brothers was in prison while another brother, as a teenager, was working the casinos in Mexico.

 

 

[i] “Salt Lake Brewery Can Come Back,” December 30, 1911, Clark County Review, page two, “Salt Lake Brewing Co.,” December 30, 1911, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[ii] “Salt Lake Brewing Co.,” September 30, 1911, Las Vegas Age, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[iii] “Salt Lake Brewery Can Come Back,” December 30, 1911, Clark County Review, page two, “Salt Lake Brewing Co.,” December 30, 1911, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[iv] “Salt Lake Brewing Co.,” September 30, 1911, Las Vegas Age, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[v] “Salt Lake Brewing Co.,” September 30, 1911, Las Vegas Age, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[vi] “Salt Lake Brewing Co.,” September 30, 1911, Las Vegas Age, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[vii] “Salt Lake Brewing Co.,” September 30, 1911, Las Vegas Age, Las Vegas Age, page one.

[viii] “The Northern,” March 23, 1912, Las Vegas Age, Page five.

[ix] “The Northern,” March 23, 1912, Las Vegas Age, Page five.

[x] “Northern Opening,” March 30, 1912, Las Vegas Age, page four.

[xi] “Five Cent Beer, Latest Innovation, Causes both Cheer and Consternation,” April 6, 1912, Clark County Review, Page one.

[xii] “Five Cent Beer, Latest Innovation, Causes both Cheer and Consternation,” April 6, 1912, Clark County Review, Page one.

[xiii] “Five Cent Beer, latest Innovation, Causes Both Cheer and Consternation,” April 6, 1912, Clark County Review, page one.

[xiv] “Five Cent Beer, Latest Innovation, Causes both Cheer and Consternation,” April 6, 1912, Clark County Review, Page one.

[xv] “Five Cent Beer, Latest Innovation, Causes both Cheer and Consternation,” April 6, 1912, Clark County Review, Page one.

[xvi] “Five Cent Beer, Latest Innovation, Causes both Cheer and Consternation,” April 6, 1912, Clark County Review, Page one.

[xvii] “Five Cent Beer, Latest Innovation, Causes both Cheer and Consternation,” April 6, 1912, Clark County Review, Page one.

[xviii] “Las Vegas Hotel Meets the Issue,” April 13, 1912, Clark County Review, Page one

Two Nevada Fire Stations listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Two Nevada Fire Stations listed in the National Register of Historic Places

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 9, 2018                             

CONTACT: Rebecca Palmer, 775-684-3443

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Today, the National Park Service (NPS) listed the Ely City Hall and Fire Station in Ely, and the Pioche Fire House in Pioche in the National Register of Historic Places. The NPS also approved Fire Stations of Nevada, a special report on historic fire stations in Nevada produced by the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office. The report, called a multiple property documentation form (MPDF), provides a history of firefighting and fire station architecture in Nevada, and establishes registration requirements for historic fire stations, making it easier for community members to nominate their eligible fire stations to the National Register. The National Register is the nation’s official list of places worthy of preservation, recognizing important places and potentially qualifying them for certain grants and tax incentives.

The practice of firefighting and the construction of fire stations became a standard element of every community in Nevada by the late-nineteenth century. From professional fire stations in urban environments, such as Las Vegas and Reno, to rural volunteer fire departments in communities like Pioche and Winnemucca, firefighting became, and remains, an essential public service in Nevada. Early firefighters advocated for the adoption of building codes, and developed new methods and equipment to fight fires. They also became noteworthy emblems of public service and volunteerism, often being community-supported and, even today, primarily reliant on volunteers. Most of Nevada’s communities have an historic fire station, even if it is no longer used by its fire department. Many historic fire stations have been successfully adapted for new uses, such as offices or restaurants.

As a result of the MPDF Fire Stations of Nevada, both the Ely City Hall and Fire Station, and the Pioche Fire House, have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Ely City Hall and Fire Station was recognized for its role as the seat of the City of Ely’s government from its construction in 1929 to the present, as well as its role as the headquarters for Ely’s Fire Department from 1929 to 1999. The Pioche Fire House was recognized for its role as the headquarters for the Pioche Fire Department from 1928 to 1954, when a larger, more modern station replaced it. The Pioche Fire Department, now a district in the Lincoln County Fire Protection District, still owns the historic fire house near the intersection of Main Street and Lacour Street.

Residents of Nevada who wish to nominate historic fire stations in their community to the National Register using this report are encouraged to contact the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in Carson City. A copy of the report can be found on the SHPO website at: http://shpo.nv.gov/contexts.

Rise and fall of the Nevada Biltmore. One of 4 Las Vegas resorts built 1941-1942.

(updated February 3, 2018)

  • Motel owner Tom Hull opens the western themed Hotel El Rancho Vegas, on evening of April 3, 1941.
  • The El Cortez hotel-casino with its western motif opens to the public at 6:00 p.m. on November 7, 1941.
  • Famed Hollywood restaurant owner Bob  Brooks opens south seas themed Nevada Biltmore in Las Vegas June 20, 1942
  • October 30, 1942 the western themed Last Frontier Hotel Casino opened.

The four Las Vegas resorts would stand alone until the end of World War Two.

Today, the only one standing is the El Cortez Hotel-casino and it is on the national register of historic places. https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/AssetDetail?assetID=fef848c8-5040-44ca-9bb5-3d90bb9e3475

The histories of El Cortez,  the El Rancho Vegas and the Last Frontier are remembered, in part because of their locations on the Las Vegas strip.  (A quick tangent.  In recent years, the history of the El Cortez because of its owners progressive thinking by adding the resort to the national register of historic places, has been written about extensively.   But there is a lot more to be told, a major change in the social entertainment structure, as well as secret ownership, and we don’t mean Bugsy, that is no secret, nor Meyer, or Sedway, we will just “string” you along on that story.)

Today’s story is about the less known of the four, the Nevada Biltmore.   Less known today,  in part because of its location on North Main Street in downtown Las Vegas.  At the time of its opening it was an important U.S. highway intersection.

Here is a short, but detailed history, with sources that can be used to expand the history of this unique resort.

The Las Vegas Review Journal carried a story on page six of its June 20, 1942 edition announcing the opening of the Nevada Biltmore Hotel under the caption; “Seven Seas Room to Open This Eve.”

The story read, “The colorful Seven Seas room at the new Nevada Biltmore Hotel will be opened this evening at North Main and Bonanza Road, it was announced today by Bob Brooks, owner.” [i]

“Brooks” the newspaper story said, was the ” owner of the Somerset House in Beverly Hills and the Seven Seas in Hollywood, revealed that Johnny Bush[ii] will be in charge of the casino, Eddie Bush, famous Hawaiian band leader, will have charge of the music and Al Smith, noted chef from the Somerset House will supervise the preparation of the food.” [iii]

The newspaper story added, “The decorations of the Seven Seas are both unusual and authentic featuring paintings of the exquisite oils from Tahiti on a background of velvet.” [iv]

 The pool was visible from the from the intersection Main and Bonanza Streets, which was also where  two U.S. Highways, U.S. 91 and 95 connected.  A popular place for locals.  As a child, U.S. Senator Richard Bryan learned to swim in this pool.

The gaming casinos, cocktail lounge and dining room are all done in South Sea Island motif and one of the interesting decorations is a surf board presented to Brooks by the noted Hawaiian swimmer, Duke Kahanamoku.  The board is covered with the autographs of celebrities.” [v]

“The cocktail lounge will specialize in widely known and colorful rum drinks, Brooks’ reports.” [vi]

January 1, 1943 Brooks leases Biltmore to Mr. and Mrs. Clarence P. Martin

Less than six months after opening the hotel Bob Brooks leased the operation, with the exception of the casino, to the Martins.

The January 1, 1943 issue of the Las Vegas Review Journal, on page two, published a story with the caption “Nevada Biltmore Leased to Martin.”   The story said “The Nevada Biltmore hotel, one of Las Vegas’ newest hostelries, has been leased by the owner, Bob Brooks, to Mr. and Mrs. Clarence P. Martin, recently of southern California, but formerly of Florida it was announced today.” [vii]

“The new mangers took over the entire hotel operation today, except the casino, which will continue to be operated by Brooks, Martin said.” [viii]

“Special service for Las Vegas residents will be a feature at the hotel under the new management, with emphasis on luncheons, bridge parties, and private entertainment, it was announced.  Floor shows will be a regular attraction in the dining room.” [ix]

“Martin, who spent 18 years at sea as chief steward on passenger liners, plans to introduce many specialty dishes which were favorites with world travelers.” [x]

“Mr. and Mrs. Martin for many years operated hotels in Miami Beach, Florida.  About one and one half years ago they moved to California and leased the Alessandro hotel in Hemet, California, which had a big success under their management.  They sold out after several months ago and purchased the lease on the famous Hotel Casa de Manana in La Jolla, California.  Recently they disposed of their holdings there to move to Las Vegas and take over the Nevada Biltmore hotel.” [xi]

 May, 1943, Brooks leases property to Del Mar Corporation and it’s President Hernando Courtright.

The Del Mar Corporation, its President Hernando Courtright, signed a five year lease with Brooks for Biltmore in May of 1943 for $31,000.

The “Casino Equipment” inventory included;

“7 Cherry bell Chrome front slot machines. Serial Nos.

458-218-5 cents

460-370-5 cents

458-250-5 cents

448-765-25 cents

468-077-25 cents

468-296-25 cents

448-850-10 cents

“2  21 Tables (Noll & Co.)

1 crap table  9 ½ by 4 ½

1 Roulette table (carved head)

1 Console 4-Bell Machine # P.J.-4141”

1 complete set checks for roulette table,

1 complete set of markers

12 Coral leather upholstered seat and back casino stools.”[xii]

 September, 1943 A. L. Leesone listed as “Manager” of Nevada Biltmore Hotel

Another change of hands for the Biltmore operation.   A display advertisement in the September 8, 1943 issue of the Las Vegas Evening Review Journal lists  “A. L. Leesone, Manager,” of the Nevada Biltmore Hotel. [xiii]

And, Leesone time in management was short.

October, 1943, Brooks announces his “return” to the Biltmore with new “Hotel Managers,” the Kehrlein’s.

Brooks announced  in the October 4, 1943 issue of the Las Vegas Evening Review Journal.

The advertisement was “announcing the return of Bob Brooks’ owner of the Nevada Biltmore Hotel.”  In addition Brooks also listed Mary and Emil Kehrlein as “Hotel Managers,” and Johnny Hughes as “casino managers.”[xiv]

Brooks takes out display advertisement September 1944  Biltmore “has not been sold and is not for sale.”

Bob Brooks, in a display advertisement in the September 8, 1944 issue of the Las Vegas Review Journal declared;

“NOTICE Contrary to reports, the Nevada Biltmore Hotel has not been sold and is not for sale.  No other party or parties have any interest in the business except myself.  I am the sole owner and operator.  I have always had faith in the future of Las Vegas and I still hold that faith.  I like the people of this community and the climate and western hospitality of Southern Nevada.  Las Vegas is my home and I pledge to you good people the finest in entertainment, tasty drinks and excellent food amid comfortable surroundings.  It will be a pleasure to personally greet you and your friends. BOB BROOKS.”[xv]

A month after taking announcing the resort was not for sale, Brooks solid it.

Brooks sells Nevada Biltmore November, 1944 to G.E. Kinsey

While announcing the resort had “not been sold” Brooks was clearly in discussion to sell the property.

On November 1, 1944 Brooks along with G.E. and Mattie Kinsey filed papers with the county detailing the sale. The sale would not become public for two weeks, on November 14.

Brooks made the announcement to his staff and friends at what was described as a “farewell dinner,” on the evening of Monday, November 13, 1944. [xvi]

The general public got the official word when they picked up their morning newspaper.[xvii]

The cities two newspapers reported the “transaction” involved “properties valued in excess of $600,000.” [xviii]

By the afternoon of November 14, 1944 more details were revealed when W. H. Grunwald, representing the Kinsey’s told reporters, “We intend to make the Nevada Biltmore a real part of the city of Las Vegas.  We want to bring it into the city of Las Vegas and make it a place where the people of the community can meet and enjoy wholesome entertainment and good food.”  [xix]

Grunwald added, “as soon as the government restrictions are eased so we can get material, we expect to make improvements at the hotel.  We intend to have the Nevada Biltmore take its place alongside the other fine establishments which this community well can boast.” [xx]

As part of the deal, Brooks would acquire “the Westchester apartment hotel, a class-A, seven story structure on Pico Street in Los Angeles.” [xxi]

At the time of the sale, George Kinsey was reported to be “quite widely known in Las Vegas, having been a regular visitor to this area since 1940.  He became interested in the Las Vegas area though Bill Froelich, Ford dealer of southern California, and Frank Muller, wealthy laundry man of the Los Angeles area, who brought him her firs for a fishing trip on Lake Mead.” [xxii]

Kinsey retained Jack Walsh to run the Hotel, and Johnny Hughes, to run the gambling side of the Nevada Biltmore.  Hughes described in the Kinsey announcement as a “popular casino manager” was first hired by Brooks when he opened the resort in 1942.[xxiii]

 

 

 

 

 

Hughes, seen here in a sketch by well known Reno graphic artist Lew Hymers, would open his own place on U.S. 91, “The Players.”

 

 

 

 

A review of the casino inventory provides an inside into the scale of the gambling operation.

Based on the casino inventory it appears Kinsey added one 5 cent Bell slot machine, a console 4-bell machine,  and put in a large crap table, from a 4 ½ x 9 to a 4 ½ x 12 foot.

    The “Casino Equipment” inventory included;

“8 Cherry bell Chrome front slot machines. Serial Nos.

465-863-5 cents

458-218-5 cents

460-370-5 cents

458-250-5 cents

448-765-25 cents

468-077-25 cents

468-296-25 cents

448-850-10 cents

“2  21 Tables (Noll & Co.)

1 crap table   4 ½ x 12’

1 Roulette table (carved head)

1 complete set checks for roulette table, 2 complete sets of markers.

1 Console 4-Bell Machine # P.J.-4141

14 upholstered seat and back casino stools – upholstered in sheepskin fabric.”[xxv]

 18 months later,  in April of, 1946, Kinsey sells Nevada Biltmore to Horace Heidt, famous band leader.

“Horace Heidt, nationally famous band leader…has purchased the Nevada Biltmore hotel in Las Vegas, it was announced” Sunday, April 28, 1946 “by Thomas Campbell, who represents Kinsey in all Las Vegas operations and who handled the Biltmore deal for him.”[xxvi]

“While the purchase price was not announced, definitely, it is understood that Heidt paid George E. Kinsey, former owner $500,000 for the entire facilities.”

The band leader  told the Review Journal “Jack Walsh definitely would remain as manager of the hotel.”

Heidt immediately began looking for investors, as he had little interest in running the property.

December, 1946, Heidt Sells half Interest in Biltmore and Jack Walsh returns as General Manager of the Biltmore, Heidt reveals change in casino operation.

Horace Heidt, owner of the Nevada  Biltmore hotel, announced the week of December 19, 1946 that he had sold a half interest in the hotel to Jules Le Baron, described at the time as the son of William LeBaron, French film director working in Hollywood.[xxvii]

Heidt said he made the change because he was getting his band back together for a featured spot on a radio broadcast in 1947. [xxviii]

Heidt said at the time that he would return to Las Vegas on a regular basis to assist in the operation of the hotel. [xxix]

Heidt announced on December 19, 1946, “Jack Walsh, prominent Las Vegas hotel man, has been hired as manager of the Nevada Biltmore and will return to the duties he had earlier this year at the hotel. Walsh recently returned from Del Mar, California, where he operated the famous hostelry there.”[xxx]

Heidt also announced “Earl Jones will continue as casino manager and Joe Devereaux will be in charge of the bar as in the past, Heidt said.” [xxxi]

That quickly changed Heidt cuts deal with national known east coast nightclub operator, Frank Barbaro.

On February 5, 1947, Ralph Stoughton and Frank Barbaro signed a one year lease to operate the hotel.

The name of the entertainment area of the resort would be  changed to the “Bowery-Biltmore” to reflect Barbaro’s plans for the business. [i]

Barbaro, a Detroit nightclub owner, was in Las Vegas to get a divorce. [ii]

He billed himself as “known from coast to coast” and “your host from coast to coast.”

Barbaro said met Stoughton who came up with the idea of the two of them forming a partnership to take over the Nevada Biltmore. [iii]

 

 

 

Barbaro began advertising the resort  as “Frank Barbaro’s Bowery.”  The Biltmore Bowery opened on April 30, 1947 with Martha Raye.[iv]

 

 

As far as Barbaro got with his name change is seen in this publicity shot with Barbaro in the middle, and just above his head is the neon script letter “Barbaros Bowery.”

 

Barbaro take over made the national enternament news outlets. From “Hollywood Nite-Life” April 25, 1947, page 12, a column “Las Vegas Life” by Melba Arnold.

“Personality of the week-Frank Barbaro, affable owner of the Nevada Biltmore, has the fun-lovers jamming his night spot despite the fact that he is in the process of drastically remodeling the famous dining room.  Guests purr happily surrounded by stripped walls and raw ceilings while enjoying the sparling wit of Ben Blue and his Hollywood Revue.  The grand opening of the Bowery Room is slated for 30th of this month with Martha Raye in charge of the merrymaking.”

Page 15 of the same issue has a photograph of Barbaro with the caption, “Frank Barbaro.  Thar’s a handsome cowhard in that thar Las Vegas these days by the tag of Frank Barbaro. He hails from the fair city of Detroit where he was lord and master of the swank Bowery Café.  Mr. Barbaro recently purchased the Nevada Biltmore and immediately began doing things in a large way, namely throwing $50,000 into revamping the hotel’s boite which he will name the Bowery Café, natch.”

“Frank has appointed a well-known and much-liked gent by the name of Jack Walsh to manage his beautiful bistro.  Mr. Walsh began his duties duly by announcing the Bowery would purvey nothing but big time talent inside its portals, and to prove this he signed Ben Blue, who is now taking bows in the Bowery.  Next on the list of big acts is Martha Raye who starts April 30th.  Leo Carrillo with the Ben Yost Troupe makes their entry May 14th.  Mr. Barbaro also signed Jack Ponds, a very talented MC and comic as a regular at his sipping heaven.”

In May of 1947 Barbaro filed for divorce in Las Vegas.  His wife and children were living in Detroit.  [v]

The decree, granted by Judge A. S. Henderson, “transferred title to his million dollar” Bowery Club in Detroit to his wife and “gave her the expensive home and furnishing.” [vi]

Barbaro’s national press did little to change the direction the Biltmore was headed. That change lasted for a few months.

In its future were two more efforts to keep the resort alive.  The first step was in early 1949 provide service for the African American community, locals and tourists, who were without access to any of the major resorts.

The Las Vegas Review Journal reported on July 19, 1949, “the ill-fated operation of the Nevada Biltmore hotel as a colored resort for the past five weeks ended abruptly today, as the place was ordered closed by Homer W. Snowden, a stockholder of the Texas-Nevada corporation, which has attempted to operate the hostelry since May 1” 1949.[xxxii]

A full story on the short, but historic integration of the Nevada Biltmore will be featured on this site.

  Biltmore Closed by Snowden July 19, 1949 To open under new name and as a motel

A public announcement was made,  “Negotiations were underway between the former owners of the Biltmore, Louis Wiener, Jr., Mahlon Brown, James Still and Carl Amante and band leader Horace Heidt, to reopen the place as a deluxe motel.” [xxxiii]

“Weiner said if he and his partners again take over the Biltmore, the name will be changed and its operation as a hotel will cease in favor of a motel venture.  He reasoned that as the biggest motel in Las Vegas and the only one with a swimming pool, the operation would stand an excellent chance of running successfully.” [xxxiv]

It was revealed that Heidt still holds a $180,000 mortgage on the Biltmore and “does not want to operate the hotel and is instead only in a deal which will get his money out of it.” [xxxv]

Gambler, Carl Amante said “we want to make this the most unique motel in Las Vegas.”[xxxvi]

Heidt once again had direct control of the property.

One of Amante’s partners, Wiener, said he was talking with Heidt and the band leader is “coopering with us 100 percent.” [xxxvii]

The deal with Wiener and Amante’s group did not work out.

A new set of owners, and this time a name change which did not provide luck to anyone involved.

 

 

In 1948 Clem Malone, who had come to Nevada to work on the construction of Hoover Dam,ran for the Clark County Commission.

According to the Clark County Government’s official web site, Malone “easily won a seat on the commission in that election.”

The next year, 1949, Malone and others took over the Nevada Biltmore and changed the name to the Shamrock Hotel.  Malone and his partners operated it for a number of years.

Shortly after aquiring the Bilmore, Malone contacted the same Massahcutres post card company that created the pool side view, to update the title of the resort.

The name change did not allow Malone to see the evil spirits that were in his future.   Like the hotel, Malone’s political career was filled with trouble.

Again, from the official Clark County government web site, “Malone’s time on the commission was filled with contention. In 1950, he was charged with soliciting bribes from George Crockett at the airport. Malone claimed that James Cashman, Frank Gusewelle, and A.E. Cahlan were setting him up.”[vii]

In 1950, Malone filed to run for governor. He lost his bid in the primary, and then lost his county commission seat in May of 1951.

Losing is stake in the Shamrock, Malone filed bankruptcy in 1954.

The hotel would eventually become the Shamrock Furniture store.

Today a lone palm tree marks the spot of one of the “swank” hotels of Las Vegas in the 1940’s.

The Biltmore’s original builder Bob Brooks would take the money for the sale of the resort and begin buying property on what would become the Las Vegas Strip.

He and Moe Dalitz would soon become close friends.

[i] “Seven Seas Room To Open This Eve,” June 20, 1942, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page six.

[ii] Note the newspaper story said that Brooks said that Johnny Bush would be in charge of the casino.  The display advertisement in the same issue of the newspaper named the casino boss as Johnny Hughes, a well-known local gaming figure.

[iii] “Seven Seas Room To Open This Eve,” June 20, 1942, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page six.

[iv] “Seven Seas Room To Open This Eve,” June 20, 1942, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page six.

[v] “Seven Seas Room To Open This Eve,” June 20, 1942, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page six.

[vi] “Seven Seas Room To Open This Eve,” June 20, 1942, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page six.

[vii] “Nevada Biltmore Leased to Martin,” January 1, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page two.

[viii] “Nevada Biltmore Leased to Martin,” January 1, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page two.

[ix] “Nevada Biltmore Leased to Martin,” January 1, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page two.

[x] “Nevada Biltmore Leased to Martin,” January 1, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page two.

[xi] “Nevada Biltmore Leased to Martin,” January 1, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page two.

[xii] Clark County Miscellaneous Book 19, May 20, 1943, Nevada Biltmore, pages 408-422.

[xiii]  Display advertisement, Nevada Biltmore, September 8, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xiv] Display advertisement, Nevada Biltmore, October 4, 1943, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page five.

[xv] Display advertisement, Bob Brooks, September 8, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page eight.

[xvi] “Nevada Biltmore Owner Plans Big Development,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xvii] “Nevada Biltmore Sold,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Morning Tribune, page one, “Nevada Biltmore Owner Plans Big Development,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three

[xviii] “Nevada Biltmore Sold,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Morning Tribune, page one.

[xix] “Nevada Biltmore Owner Plans Big Development,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xx] “Nevada Biltmore Owner Plans Big Development,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xxi] “Nevada Biltmore Owner Plans Big Development,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xxii] “Nevada Biltmore Owner Plans Big Development,” November 14, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xxiii] “Biltmore Plans big Expansion,” November 18, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xxiv] “Biltmore Plans big Expansion,” November 18, 1944, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page three.

[xxv]  Clark County Miscellaneous Book 21, November 1, 1944, Biltmore Hotel, pages 261-267.

[xxvi] “Purchases Biltmore,” April 29, 1946, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page one.

[xxvii] “Heidt Sells Half Interest in Biltmore,” December 19, 1946, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page fifteen.

[xxviii] “Heidt Sells Half Interest in Biltmore,” December 19, 1946, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page fifteen.

[xxix] “Heidt Sells Half Interest in Biltmore,” December 19, 1946, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page fifteen.

[xxx]  “Heidt Sells Half Interest in Biltmore,” December 19, 1946, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page fifteen.

[xxxi] “Heidt Sells Half Interest in Biltmore,” December 19, 1946, Las Vegas Evening Review Journal, page fifteen.

[xxxii]  “Biltmore closed by Snowden; change to motel is looming,” July 19, 1949, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[xxxiii]  “Biltmore closed by Snowden; change to motel is looming,” July 19, 1949, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[xxxiv]  “Biltmore closed by Snowden; change to motel is looming,” July 19, 1949, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[xxxv]  “Biltmore closed by Snowden; change to motel is looming,” July 19, 1949, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[xxxvi]  “Biltmore Hotel to Blossom with new glamor and name,” July 27, 2919, Las Vegas review Journal, page

[xxxvii]  “Biltmore Hotel to Blossom with new glamor and name,” July 27, 2919, Las Vegas review Journal, page

Second set of footnotes with the addition of the Barbaro saga.

[i]  “Frank Barbaro takes over Nevada Biltmore,” May 29, 1947, Las Vegas Review Journal, page one.

[ii] “Frank Barbaro takes over Nevada Biltmore,” May 29, 1947, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[iii] “Frank Barbaro takes over Nevada Biltmore,” May 29, 1947, Las Vegas Review Journal, page two.

[iv]  Display advertisement Nevada Biltmore, April, 1947, Las Vegas Life, page twenty.

[v] “Barbaro gets divorce here,” May 26, 1947, Las Vegas Review Journal, page six.

[vi]  “Spectacular Barbaro career echoes heard in court suit,” May 28, 1948, Las Vegas Review Journal, page three.

[vii] http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/parks/Documents/centennial/commissioners/commissioner-c-malone.pdf

 

 

Kiel Ranch, Kiel Brothers Online Update coming in February.

Jeff Alpert, who those of you who attend the North Las Vegas City Council meetings, is a well-known name.

Alpert began several months ago closing each of the city councils meetings with details of the history of the city.

At the end of the meeting, when the Mayor asked, are there any public comments, Alpert would go to the microphone and full the three minutes of allotted time with a historic note about the community.

Alpert is no longer at the end of the meeting, he has been moved up on the agenda and has his own spot.

Working with the city, Alpert, according to reliable sources, will be posting a six part article on the Kiel brothers and their ranch.

We understand Alpert is also working on a series of stories about the colorful mayor of North Las Vegas, Horace Tucker.

As soon as we get work the historic of North Las Vegas is on the city’s web site we will let you know.

P.S.  Captain History had a sneak preview of Alert’s work.  Solid, in depth research, not relying on secondary sources.   Alpert wants readers to review his stories when they go on line and point out  any opportunities for improvement.

 

    Las Vegas Attorneys are looking for a $10,000,000 golden door for Artist image on Lady Liberty Stamp

The first resort on what would become the Las Vegas Strip had a theme, the Hotel El Rancho Vegas.  A western theme, which was followed by another western theme, the Last Frontier, and then it was onto the desert, from the Sahara, to the Dunes, Sands, to the Mirage.

Eleven years ago this month the New York, New York opened with its theme, and with it came the Statue of Liberty.  The Las Vegas version, according to the attorney representing the artist is “a more delicate, modern, feminine and fresh-faced statue.”

Hard growing old, Lady Liberty in New York, was dedicated October 28, 1886.  That would make her 131 years old.

  An image from the New York, New York web site

https://www.newyorknewyork.com/en/hotel.html

We need to go back a few years when the U.S. Post Office decided to issue a state featuring the Statue of Liberty.

A stamp design is created based on the Statue of liberty in the New York harbor.  And stamps are printed.  Whoops.

Turns out the statue of liberty on the stamp was not based on the one in the New York harbor, it was based on the one on the Las Vegas strip.

 

ABC News pointed out one of the differences.

 

 

Here’s a link to ABC’s story. http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/statue-liberty-stamp-mistake-wrong-las-vegas-casino-new-york-13387491

As the TV networks, and national newspapers pointed out, the Nevada sculptor, a bit upset, got a hold of a Las Vegas law firm, Pisanelli Bice PLLC and is suing the post office.

A few weeks ago his attorneys told the court their client is owed between ten and 11 million dollars for using the artists copyrighted image without his permission.

As part of the filing, the artist’s work is a “Re-imagined lady Liberty” and is “the artistic creation of one person, Robert S. Davidson.”

The matter is before Judge Eric G. Bruggink, a judge with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington D.C.

Both sides presented their arguments to the judge during a multi-day hearing last year.

Now, the artist’s attorneys,in the new filing, told the judge their client is owned millions based on the number of stamps printed and other factors.

It is likely the judge will ask both sides to appear before him once more before he makes a decision.  It is likely that decision will be appealed.

No matter how the judge rules, we can visit the new “more delicate, modern feminine and fresh faced” statue on the Las Vegas strip,

Or head east and visit the less delicate, old-fashioned, less feminine, tired-looking 131 year old statue in the New York Harbor. Or take a look at one of these live web cams.

https://www.nps.gov/stli/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm

We will keep an old eye out for the Judge’s ruling.

The Covered Wagon, Nevada’s Epic 1924 Movie to receive Special Treatment

     In at least a tie, if not number one on the list of the top ten silent films connected to Nevada is “The Covered Wagon.”  It was filmed in 1923 and released in 1924.

This is an epic film.  A true EPIC film!    Nevada filming locations in 1923 include Baker, Nevada, parts of what is now the Great Basin National Park,  and with Skull and Snake Valleys.

Today’s news, the fact “The Covered Wagon” will be coming out in three weeks, on a special edition, Blu-ray with added attractions,,  tops our movie news this week.

The Fox film, (Before it became 20th Century Fox) was Jesse Lasky, who approved a $500,000 budget.  Big bucks in 1923.  By the time all the production costs were added up, it was a $750,000 movie.  The director, James Cruze, was raised by his Mormon parents in Ogden, Utah.

The star is Alan Hale.  No, not Gilligan’s Island Alan Hale.  This was his dad.   The female star was Lois Wilson.  A long career, more than 150 films including the silent film version of the Great Gatsby.

Paramount Studios, “3,000 actors spent three months” in the Utah and Nevada deserts.” Again from the studio’s “Facts about The Covered Wagon,” “One-tenth of all the blanket Indians in the United State appear.”  They are Arapahoes, Bannocks, Shoshones, and Crows.”

“Nine square miles of waste prairie were burned.  The scenes in which the 500 wagons ford the mile-wide rushing torrent were made at great risk.” (A hell of a lot more wagon’s then Ward Bond ever had.)

Promotional Post card issued by Paramount Studios. (CH collection)

 

That is studio publicity at work.  But, having viewed the VHS copy.  There are thousands of people and hundreds of wagon.   As far as buffaloes the studio said they had 500 in the film.   Remember, this was 1923, no “Iron Man” parts one or two digital affects.  But seems to be a few of those buffaloes, well check it out for yourself.

This is a classic film, shot in Nevada and Utah.  It is an epic film, a box office hit, and led to other epic silent films in the 1920’s before “Iron Horse,” and “Ben-Hur.”

The disc will go on sale on February 20, and the news release from Kino Lorber said the special edition release will also contain,

  • -Audio commentary by Film Historian Toby Roan
  • -Booklet essay by film scholar Matt Hauske
  • -The Pie-Covered Wagon: a 1932 one-reel spoof starring Shirley Temple
  • -Wurlitzer organ score by Gaylord Carter
  • -Reversible Blu-ray Art

https://www.kinolorberedu.com/film/thecoveredwagon

When the movie was released in the United States and England, theatre goers were asked to fill out post cards and send them to friends.

 

 

Coming up in February a top ten list of Nevada related silent movies.   With 1924 “The Covered Wagon” and John Fords, 1925 “Iron Horse” competing for the top honors.   The recently uncovered   southern Nevada production of a Laurel and Hardy film, yes, Laurel and Hardy may also vie for a top spot.  Semi spoiler alert L and H are the stars of this film, but before the there was a Laurel and Hardy handshake to become a team.  Filmed near Moapa.  Surprised me too.

 

 

 

 

Las Vegas Centennial Commission to meet Monday vote on major grant to preserve the history of architect and to create a process to fund long form video projects.

Request for funds to preserve work of mid-century Las Vegas architect, and advance plans for grants of documentaries of Las Vegas.

Commission for the Las Vegas Centennial aka the Las Vegas Centennial Commission meets today/Monday,   January 29, 2018.

With its mission, “To preserve and celebrate the history of the people and the history of the City of Las Vegas” the commission review and vote on a request for funds to continue the preservation and public access to the work of the late Hugh E. Taylor

The public meeting, 2 p.m. at Las Vegas City Hall in the city clerk’s conference room on the section floor, the commission will review and take application from Heidi Swank of the Nevada Preservation Foundation for $98,600 for Phase II of the Hugh E. Taylor architect archives project.

Also on the agenda a report and possible action regarding the 2018 Helldorado celebration.  We all remember the Helldorado parades and carnivals started in 1935.

The staff has also been working on a new online film grant application for video projects.  The new grant application is expected to provide a better focus on future   grants.    The commission at its previous public meeting has indicated it plans to be more proactive providing topics for the production of long form video projects.

Link to agenda.

http://www5.lasvegasnevada.gov/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=2512&doctype=AGENDA

The commission meets quarterly to provide funds to encourage preservation of historic resources in City.

From the preservation and restoration of the 1923 Westside School, to a grant to UNLV to the digitations of the earliest Las Vegas newspapers, which will be on line soon, the commission has funded more than 21-million-dollars in grants focused on education and enhancement of historic in the City of Las Vegas.

 

 

 

Patty Hearst in Las Vegas

CNN’s ongoing promotion of its upcoming long form video special “The Radical Story of Patty Hearst” set off a flashback to November 5, 1975.

It was on that day the UNLV newspaper “The Yell,” carried a front page story “Patty Hearst in Las Vegas.”   That was more than four decades ago, Captain History was working with Dave Kelly, the newspaper’s Editor. (see p.s.) The Confederate Soldier and the word “Rebel” were removed the masthead.

If you would like to read the story as well as a visit by Dick Gregory at UNLV, here are a couple of links.

Gregory’s appearance and comment’s on Hearst  was also front page news.   Gregory, like his contemporaries Lenny Bruce, and Mort Sahl, was labled a comedian.  All three were satirist, all three were funny,  but their legacy was shining a spotlight on the opportunities for improvement in society.  ( After writing that, an image of all three of them popped up  throwing a tomato at me.)

Here are the links to The YELL,

http://d.library.unlv.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/reb/id/1794/rec/5

http://d.library.unlv.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/reb/id/1868/rec/8

Here is one of many obit clips on Gregory.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQpM5WxI37Q

CNN’s broadcast “The Radical Story of Patty Hearst” premieres on February 11 at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET/PT .  Nine days before Hearst’s 65th birthday.  https://www.cnn.com/shows/radical-story-patty-hearst

P.S.   When Dave Kelly moved from the profession of journalism to the world of computer’s, it was Journalism loss.  His outstanding coverage of the Baneberry accident and his work with UPI stands out.

The Development of Las Vegas through the eyes of a post card photographer, 1913 to 1930

 

 

 Even with smart phones and their ability to snap a photo and send it back home,  post cards are still found in gift stores along Fremont Street and the Las Vegas Strip.

The messages haven’t changed; “Look where I am” and “wish you were here.”

For decades post cards were king.  In the golden age of post cards, Billions, yes Billions were sold each year in the United States.

The earliest form of Twitter, as you could only write so many words on the back of the post card.

In the beginning, the U.S. Post Office forbid writing on the back of the post car; except the address.

So you squeezed your message, a few words around the edges of the front of the card.

Then in 1902 Great Britain allowed its citizens to write a message on the left side of the back of the post card.

Five years later the U.S. Post Office made the change.

For Las Vegas, post cards continues record to development and changes  of the community, from a railroad stop and farms to the growing and constantly changing hospitality industry.

In many cases, the early days, pre Hoover Dam era, post cards are often the only visual history of the development of southern Nevada that has survived.

In this the first of several stories on post cards and the history of southern Nevada, we focus on one giant post card company, Curt Teich of Chicago.

Not the first to provide a visual glimpse of Las Vegas to the outside world, but for several decades Teich dominated the market place.

Continue reading “The Development of Las Vegas through the eyes of a post card photographer, 1913 to 1930”

A Nevada Bar Owner & A Person who was once paid by a mobster to be honored U.S Govt.

In the next three weeks the U.S. Post Office is going to honor a former employee of Bugsy Siegel  with a forever stamp, and the U.S. Mint is going to honor a former Henderson bar owner with a dollar coin.

Continue reading “A Nevada Bar Owner & A Person who was once paid by a mobster to be honored U.S Govt.”