Editorial: Celebrating rich history

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By Optic Editorial Board

We are fortunate to live in a place filled with historic homes and buildings.

Drive down Seventh or Eighth Street, and you’ll see an array of gorgeous Victorian homes that were built by wealthy merchants and other well-to-do residents at the turn of the last century. Go down Douglas Avenue, Bridge Street or around the Plaza, and you’ll see a wide mix of architectural styles that document the rich history of Las Vegas. A stone’s throw away from the Plaza is South Pacific, where modest adobe structures have stood for more than a century.

And then there are our two Harvey House Hotels, the soon-to-be renovated Castañeda Hotel in our Railroad District and the spectacular Montezuma Castle in Montezuma.

It seems that around every corner in Las Vegas is another architectural treasure, and that’s probably not much of an exaggeration given that our community boasts nine historic districts and more than 900 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

On Saturday, our community’s rich architectural history took center stage with the 25th annual Places With a Past tour. Several hundred people from Las Vegas and other parts of the state explored some of the architectural gems in our community, and they had a blast doing it.

This year, five homes and three buildings were featured on the tour, among them the Montezuma Castle, the Castañeda and Our Lady of Sorrows Church.

The event is put on each year by the Las Vegas Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation, a nonprofit that works tirelessly to promote our community’s rich history. Of course, the event couldn’t have happened without the many volunteers who staffed each of the sites, providing insight into the significance of each of the places featured. And it couldn’t have happened without the owners of the buildings and homes who opened their doors to the community.
While the Places With a Past tour is an annual event, Saturday’s tour was particularly noteworthy for several reasons.

First, it gave people the opportunity to explore the Castañeda Hotel and to get a sense for what the building will be once its new owners complete the renovation. In the parking lot of the Castañeda were beautiful vintage cars and a food truck.

Best of all, “Harvey Girls” helped with tours of both the Castañeda and the Montezuma Castle.

Across town at Our Lady of Sorrows Church visitors were greeted with the glorious sounds of the church’s 129-year-old organ. The music, played alternately by David Escudero and Bonnie Bolton, spilled out of the church’s front doors, beckoning passers-by. The church is raising money to restore the organ, which arrived from St. Louis, Mo., unassembled in 1885. It took a month to assemble and install the 11-ton organ and to tune its 5,000 pipe tones.

To everyone who worked to make Saturday’s tour a success, we say congratulations. Mission accomplished.