Preserve Nevada releases 11 most endangered historic places list | NevadaAppeal.com

Preserve Nevada releases 11 most endangered historic places list

Michael Green

Settlers traveling west in the mid-19th century crossed Nevada in their wagons, leaving depressions in the soil. Those near Fernley, in the last seven miles of the Forty-Mile Desert, became known as the Fernley Swales and are still there.

From the heart of Las Vegas and Reno to the trail to the California Gold Rush, Nevada has a rich history that often is endangered, and Preserve Nevada, the state's oldest statewide historic preservation organization, has named its list of the 11 Most Endangered Places in Nevada.

"We have lost some important pieces of our past," said Richard Bryan, chairman of the Preserve Nevada board, a former U.S. senator and governor, and a Nevada resident since 1942. "But we can and must save what we do have, and our list is designed to bring attention to those historic sites most in need of attention."

The list is based on an annual national list, now celebrating its 30th anniversary, issued by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Preserve Nevada has been issuing a similar list for half as long, released this year in time for the National Register of Historic Places' "Preservation Month" in May.

"This year's list, like all of our lists, extends throughout the state," Bryan said.

Leading the list is Reno's UNR Gateway District at the south end of the campus.

"As part of a plan to construct a new business building, the university wants several classic 19th century Victorian houses off of its campus," Bryan said. "We hope the university can find a way to keep them and repurpose them — so much of the campus where I went to college includes historic buildings, and we hope they can find a way to save these."

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Last week, UNR opened the historic homes for bid and potential relocation. The deadline for bid is June 7.

Buildings related to education in other ways also are in danger. The Goldfield School, built in 1907, "has a chance to be a real success story in preservation," Bryan said. Residents of the old boomtown have worked to save the building. One last wall needs to be stabilized to reduce the risk of collapse.

"My alma mater faces issues, too," Bryan said.

As far as the old Las Vegas High School, now the Las Vegas Academy, at 7th and Bridger in downtown Las Vegas, the Clark County School District has discussed upgrades, and the academic building and gymnasium, both built in 1930, may be at risk.

The 11 Most Endangered List includes more general subjects like rural downtown areas and motor courts and motels, which always are in danger during redevelopment and can work well when repurposed. One of the oldest hotels in Las Vegas, the Victory Hotel, faces similar dangers.

The list also includes Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and the Huntridge Theater in Southern Nevada, the Hillside Cemetery in Reno and Masonic Lodge No. 13/Reno Mercantile in Northern Nevada, and the Fernley Swales, left near that rural Nevada community by the wagons of settlers traveling west in the 1840s.

"Nevada has a rich heritage," Bryan said. "We have an obligation to preserve it, and that's what Preserve Nevada is all about."

The organization, founded in 2003, operates out of the UNLV history department, with a board of directors that includes members from throughout the state and involved in a variety of occupations and causes.

For information, call director Michael Green at 702-895-3351 or email him at Michael.green@unlv.edu, or email deputy director Shae Cox at preservenevada@gmail.com.

Michael Green is a University of Nevada, Las Vegas history professor.