One of the most endearing things about classic Las Vegas was its love of themes. To roll down the Strip back in the days of Jack and the Rat Pack was to pass by Western ranches, Middle Eastern palaces and Hawaiian lodges—a.k.a. El Rancho Vegas, Dunes and Castaways. The historic neighborhood of Beverly Green holds much of the same charm, with many homes that still carry the thematic spin favored by casinos of the era.
If nearby Paradise Palms is a slick headliner, Beverly Green is a boisterous lounge act, and not just because Louis Prima and Keely Smith lived here during their Sahara Lounge glory days—as did a number of casino owners, pit bosses and local political players. Built during the ’50s and early ’60s, the neighborhood’s official boundaries are Las Vegas Boulevard to Sixth Street, East Sahara Avenue to East Oakey Boulevard, but it blends into nearby John S. Park and contains sub-neighborhoods such as Paradise Park and Van Patten Tracts.
Photos by Ginger Bruner
The houses dotting Rexford Place and Houssels Avenue feature sleek mid-mod homes with angular rooflines and desert landscaping. But a wider variety of designs includes Cinderella ranches bedecked with plenty of scalloped trim and storybook touches such as diamond-pane windows, built-in birdhouses and random patches of cobblestone. Asian/Polynesian-inspired models are topped by narrow-to-wide double-pitched roofs with protruding beams and Chinese-motif ironwork. There are mock Tudor cottages, tile-roofed “Spanish” bungalows, even Western-style ranches with cowboy silhouettes standing guard and a curvy, mosaicked apartment building that Liberace’s mom used to call home.
Of course, the idea that Beverly Green’s aesthetic variety was casino-inspired does have some concrete basis. A number of homes were created by John Replogle, who designed the Dunes Hotel, as well as the team of Walter Zick and Harris Sharp, who were best known for their work on the Mint Hotel and the Moulin Rouge.
And Beverly Green does encompass an actual bit of Strip geography: a straight shot of motels and wedding chapels, replete with baby-blue neon hearts and not one but two Elvis-pink fishtailed Cadillacs. Along the neighborhood’s eastern border are more private public buildings, like the Mesquite Club with its retro cursive signage and two churches whose contrast-y post-millennial paint jobs can’t conceal their sleek ’60s lines.
In 2016, the City of Las Vegas declared Beverly Green a historic neighborhood. There is interest in putting parts of it on the National Register of Historic Places as well. But it’s not a place trapped in the past: People ride bikes, walk dogs, work on cars, paint their roofs pink and put Stardust-inspired art in their yards. Just because it’s history doesn’t mean it’s a time capsule.
Photos by Ginger Bruner