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Preservationists Hope to Move La Concha to Neon Museum Boneyard

By Chuckmonster on Monday, 15th August 2005 1:27am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 0


Even now, surrounded by the wreckage of motel rooms and sitting alongside a strip mall, the clamshell-shaped lobby of the old La Concha Motel turns heads.

The motel, with its distinctive swooping style, was designed by pioneering architect Paul Revere Williams, who also designed the main terminal at Los Angeles International Airport during the same era. The motel evokes the mid-century glamour of the Las Vegas Strip, when Frank, Sammy, and Dino roamed and roared. This was, after all, where the owner's 3-year-old son was taught to spar back in 1964 by none other than Muhammad Ali.

But in this young and ephemeral city, known for making flashy spectacles out of imploding old, iconic structures to make way for new ones, there is a serious effort underway to save the 45-year-old lobby from the wrecking ball.

The motel itself stood at the northern end of the Strip, which has decayed in recent decades with the age of megaresorts a few miles down the block. It was demolished in 2003. The owners of the 5 1/2-acre parcel plan to put a 60-story hotel-condo complex called the Majestic Conrad there by late next year or early 2007.

Before that happens, though, there is hope that about $500,000 can be raised to slice the lobby into seven pieces, drive it 2 miles north, and patch it back together as a 1,200-square-foot visitors center for -- what else? -- a collection of old Strip signs called the Neon Museum. The museum already has hundreds of old signs, but they sit in junkyard-style pens and are only open for tours by appointment.



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