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    Moulin Rouge Redux
       This page was updated 2/18/08

On February 7, 2008,
Dale Scott, the chief executive of the Moulin Rouge Development Corp. announced $700 million in funding is
in place to redevelop the Moulin Rouge Las Vegas (northwest of downtown).  Republic Urban Properties LLC, a Washington, D.C. investment firm, is teaming up with the MRDC for the project. 

The plans include:

     Keeping and restoring the existing facade, neon sign and monument tower
     700 hotel rooms (in two towers)
     50,000 square feet of retail space
     A 44,000 square foot casino
     Performance theater
     Spa facilities
     4 restaurants
     A museum and cultural center

If all goes according to plan, groundbreaking will be in the summer of 2009 with an expected opening in 2010. The current plans (below) are from the winning team at Ed Vance and Associates architects (EV&A). Other earlier proposed renderings can be seen at the bottom of this page.

.pdf Moulin Rouge Floor Plans


Moulin Rouge History

When the $3.5 million Moulin Rouge opened on May 24, 1955, it was the nation's first major interracial casino-hotel. Until then, black entertainers (even Sammy Davis Jr.) had to sleep in boarding houses in the designated black neighborhoods west of downtown. At that time, blacks were not allowed access to the hotels casinos, lounges and dining areas.  A group of investors (led by Will Max Schwartz) developed a completely integrated hotel between downtown and the (mostly African American) west side.

The popularity of the Moulin Rouge happened overnight. The hotel made the June 20th, 1955, cover of Life magazine, with a photo of two showgirls. A veritable "A list" of 50s- and 60s-era performers regularly showed to party until dawn. Great singers and musicians such as Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole, Pearl Bailey, and Louis Armstrong would perform often.

In those days, entertainers would roam the Strip's lounges and casinos in the wee hours of the morning, mingling with the guests. Black entertainers couldn't do that. They headed for the Moulin Rouge (and so did white entertainers). Frank Sinatra would show up with other Rat Packers so they could enjoy the company of their good friend Sammy. Often, they would perform without pay to the integrated crowd. This "3rd show" drew many people from the famous Strip and downtown resorts. The Moulin Rouge was "the place to be" in the wee hours.

Since the mob-run Sands resort wanted their stars back, they began to allow Sammy and other African Americans into the resort.  It wasn't about black and white, it was about green. This action caused the Moulin Rouge's business to dwindle. That, with other issues, caused it to close in October of 1955.

Although the Moulin Rouge closed, its short life had a lasting impact. Civil rights activists scheduled a march on March 26, 1960 to protest racial discrimination in Las Vegas resorts. Hotel owners, city and state officials, and Nevada Governor Grant Sawyer quickly set up a meeting with NAACP president, Dr. James McMillan and other ethnic leaders at the Moulin Rouge. Most of the hotel owners agreed to integrate their establishments, and the planned march was canceled.

The building changed hands a few times and opened with failed results. The location, the neighborhood, and the growth of the Strip have kept the Moulin Rouge from being a successful establishment.  For a while the hotel was owned by Sarann Knight-Preddy, the first African American woman to hold a Nevada Gaming License.

The Moulin Rouge was listed as an historic building in the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.

The building was used for the filming of "Casino" in 1995

On March 22, 2003, Bart Maybie, the owner of the Moulin Rouge had some big plans for the historic property.  He wanted to restore the casino to its former glory.

On May 29, 2003, a (deliberately set) fire destroyed all but the facade.

On February 7, 2008, Dale Scott, chief executive of the Moulin Rouge Development Corp (the current owners) announced $700 million in funding is in place to redevelop the Moulin Rouge. With downtown changing into a viable urban area, the time is right for the Moulin Rouge to re-emerge.

Moulin Rouge Style and Design

Originally, The Moulin Rouge was a prime example of cutting-edge mid-century-modern architecture. Nice lines, concrete "star" blocks, mosaic tiled columns and flagstone, made up the exterior facade.

The classy interior consisted of polished mahogany walls and rich colors. (no photos available)

In 1985, Sarann Knight-Preddy and her family tried to revitalize the building.  They attempted to make it classier by adding awnings and a silly shingled roof on the monument tower. They also re-muddled with 'decorative" lamps and covered the mosaic columns with stucco boxes.

This makeover did little more than ruin a great building (visually). Mixing traditional styles with mid-century-modern is a major faux pas these days.  The new plans include restoring the facade and removing the added features.  

The Fire

On May 29, 2003, a (deliberately set) fire destroyed all but the facade. Fred Ball, 45, and John Antwan Caver, 29, were arrested on arson charges. The photos (below) by Mark Adams,  show the Moulin Rouge today. 


The photos (below) coincide with the numbers on the aerial shot (left).
1- the facade
2- back of facade
3- remaining mosaic columns
4- the monument tower (with silly hat)
5- star blocks


                  1                                        2                                          3                                 4                                5

Earlier Proposed Renderings
These are renderings by several design firms (and one by me).  Most were done before the fire thwarted the plans.

                                 This one designed by yours truly


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