Workers on Thursday demolished the tower of the
first racially integrated casino in Las Vegas, one day after city
officials turned down an appeal of its owners' demolition permit.
The white tower of the Moulin Rouge hotel-casino, which opened
in 1955 and played host to headliners including Sammy Davis Jr.,
Nat "King" Cole and Frank Sinatra, was pulled down by cables
after initial attempts failed and the structure resisted.
"To them, it's blight. To me, it's history," said Pat
Hershwitzky, secretary for a group trying to preserve as much of
the Moulin Rouge and its history as possible.
The Moulin Rouge is listed on the National Register of Historic
Hershwitzky said she planned to ask city officials and site
owners Olympic Coast Investment Inc. to save as much of what's left
of the site as possible.
She said her group would try to find a new place to house the
casino's remaining artifacts.
The casino made its mark in Sin City gambling history despite
only staying open six months in the northwest part of downtown Las
In 1960, it hosted a meeting where hotel owners agreed to
desegregate the Las Vegas Strip, allowing the first black guests.
The meeting came the night before a civil rights march, when Nevada
was still known as the Mississippi of the West.
After that, the hotel rooms were converted into apartments, and
the property fell into disrepair over the next 40 years. A 2003
fire hurt three people, displaced more than 100 residents and
destroyed the main casino building, but the building's marquee
The casino sign has been preserved at the city's Neon Museum.
A fire last year burned through a wing of vacant rooms one day
after Olympic Coast took ownership through foreclosure.
Its former owners, Moulin Rouge Properties, had bought the
property for $12.1 million and planned a $200 million property with
historical reminders of the Moulin Rouge of decades ago, but went
bankrupt in 2008.