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Guns and Roses

Photo courtesy of the Nevada State Museum. Construction of the parking garage in 1986.
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By Dave Frank

Appeal Staff Writer

The logo was on everything. Tokens, ashtrays, menus, signs.

It was how the owners wanted to capture the Ormsby House: A building where the Old West mixed with 19th-century style.

It’s on the new Ormsby House sign, but the symbol, a pistol with a rose protruding from the barrel, has been popular since the famous Carson City hotel-casino opened in 1972.

“When you see it, you immediately tie it to the Ormsby House,” said Al Fieghan, a current co-owner who has been remodeling the business since 2000.

Clark Russell, the Ormsby House general manager during its early years, said owner and Gov. Paul Laxalt wanted a sign that would convey their theme, “the mild Wild West.”

It was meant to capture Nevada, Russell said, as well as the style of the Laxalt’s father’s hotel, also called the Ormsby House, which was demolished in the 1930s.

Laxalt and his partners hired a Chicago firm to design the logo, Russell said, and a representative from the firm met with them to see the hotel and find out what the owners wanted.

The firm later mailed a copy of the design, which everyone liked immediately, Russell said.

The logo and theme were incorporated throughout the hotel-casino, said Jeff Battarini of Ad Art, the company that helped design the Ormsby House.

It was “arduous” work, he said, but ended up being an elegant design.

The Ormsby House is slated to re-open next year, but has been closed for about eight years. Merchandise with the logo – match books, casino chips and belt buckles – is still being sold on the Internet.

When Fieghan and business partner Don Lehr bought the Ormsby House in 1999 for $3.75 million, they made sure it came with rights to the logo. The building had gone through bankruptcy and closures in the 1990s.

When finished, the renovated building will include a casino, ballrooms, restaurants, a fourth-story pool and about 135 hotel rooms. It will connect to the parking garage via a sky bridge crossing Curry Street. When finished, the work of the building at 600 S. Carson St. will cost more than $25 million.

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.