Hundreds pay final respects to historic hotel | NevadaAppeal.com

Hundreds pay final respects to historic hotel

MARTIN GRIFFITH

RENO, Nev. (AP) – As work crews finished preparations for Sunday’s implosion of the Mapes Hotel, hundreds of local residents flocked to downtown sidewalks to bid an emotional farewell to the landmark.

People – some in tears – gathered in small groups throughout the day Saturday to savor final views, take photographs and share memories of the 52-year-old, 12-story resort.

Hundreds of others paid $1 for bricks already removed from the building’s facade. The bricks came with a certificate of authenticity bearing the Mapes’ cowboy logo.

The Mapes, which was set to become history at 8 a.m. Sunday, ushered in the modern gambling era as the first building in the nation constructed to house a hotel, casino and entertainment under one roof.

Suzann Benton of Sparks said she came downtown to pay final respects to the resort where her parents worked in the 1960s. She brought her two young children along to share a piece of Reno history.

”It’s really sad. You can’t help but feel nostalgia,” she said while taking photographs of the hotel from the nearby Virginia Street bridge.

”I remember coming down with my dad to get his paycheck. I lost my dad a couple of years ago and it brings back memories of him. It’s part of Reno’s history. It’s such a pretty building.”

A short distance away, Randy Conley of Reno photographed the resort where his father used to go dancing.

”I hate to see it go because it was grandeur,” he said. ”I’ve lived here for 28 years and it was the way Reno used to be. But I guess you can’t stop progress.”

Debbie Black of Reno gazed a final time at the building with her husband.

”It’ll be hard to come down and not see it here anymore,” she said. ”It’s a shame it has to go down, but it does. It’s too bad Reno couldn’t save it earlier.”

All 500 souvenir Mapes bricks available for sale Saturday were snapped up in a matter of hours, said Patrick Clauss, president of the San Diego demolition company hired to bring down the building.

”I’m not really surprised because there’s a lot of emotions involved with it,” he said, adding another 10,000 bricks would go up for sale Sunday after the implosion.

Historic preservationists pledged to keep up their fight to save the Mapes until the end.

The Mapes landed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of America’s most endangered buildings and places in 1998. It has stood shuttered on the banks of the Truckee River since 1982.

”I can tell you even at this late date there are discussions taking place with people in and out of Reno,” trust spokesman Gary Kozel said. ”I can’t elaborate, but we’re in this to stay.”

The Reno City Council decided to blow up the Mapes to pave the way for downtown redevelopment. Plans call for the council to consider developers’ proposals for the site this spring.