Preserve Nevada


By Chicknhawk - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, The Huntridge Theater July 2012

Each year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation issues a list of the 11 Most Endangered Places in America. I have the pleasure of chairing the board of Preserve Nevada, which has issued its annual list of 11 endangered spots in our state.

Reno’s Lear Theatre tops the list. It was originally a church designed by Paul Revere Williams, who also did the La Concha in Las Vegas. The local organization Artown owns the Lear, but it has been closed for years. It has one of Reno’s last original historic interiors.

The other Reno place on the list is the historic entrance and core at UNR. The first building there in 1886 was Morrill Hall, named for the author of the land-grant college act that created the university. But plans to build a parking garage near it might block the view of the city that the original builders wanted to maintain and gives a special feel to my alma mater.

Las Vegas is on the list with the Huntridge Theater at the corner of Charleston and Maryland since 1944. It has been closed for more than fifteen years. It has a new owner, but it’s still at risk. It’s historic not just for all of the films and events there that fill the memories of Las Vegans. It also was the first theater in town to be desegregated.

The mining boomtowns have their share of endangered places. In Goldfield, the Nixon-Wingfield Consolidated Mines Building has been there since 1907 and is one of only six multi-story buildings left from boom times. Private owners have done some work on it, but it needs more. So does the Goldfield Hotel, also built in 1907. The Nye County Courthouse in Tonopah was built in 1905 and the elements have damaged several parts of it. Nye County is seeking a state grant, but the COVID-19 outbreak may eliminate that funding.

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Another Tonopah structure, the Army Air Field, is in danger. It opened in 1942 as a training facility. Those stationed there included Chuck Yeager, who broke the sound barrier, and Jackie Gaughan, who played such a key role in downtown Las Vegas casinos. Nye County owns the facility. Two hangars remain and need repairs.

Preserve Nevada also listed the Ely Centennial Fine Arts Building. It was the first LDS tabernacle in Nevada. It now belongs to the White Pine Community Choir Association, but there are structural and ADA compliance issues. Ely residents need more funding to turn it into a performing arts center.

Rural downtown cores are on the list. Between vacancies, deterioration, and demolition, old downtowns in places like Lovelock, Winnemucca, and Austin may be at risk. The more we can do to save these hubs, the better.

Another issue involves charcoal kilns. These stone beehives were used to convert wood into charcoal for the mines in places like White Pine County, where the Ward Charcoal Oven State Park preserves some of them. But others near Pioche, Panaca, Tybo, and Eureka need to be saved.

Finally, there’s the sky. Last year, the International Dark Sky Association announced the Massacre Rim Wilderness Study Area in northern Washoe County as only the world’s seventh dark sky sanctuary, meaning it has starry nights and unimpeded skies for viewing them. We can protect our ability to look at the stars with ordinances about outdoor lighting and environmental consciousness. If you want to be more conscious of all of this history, you can email

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Preserve Nevada