Las Vegas was founded in the early 1900s, by the mid 20th century it was the fastest growing small city in the country. The population grew dramatically after World War II from 8,422 to over 45,000 by the 1950s.
Gambling was legalized in the 1930s and Vegas became a hub for drinking, gambling, and all things excess. This was the beginning of the city’s Golden Age.
By 1954, 8 million people visited annually, pumping over $200 million a year in casinos. The Riviera, the Sahara, the Tropicana, The Sands, Binion’s Horseshoe, The New Frontier, The Royal Nevada, and The Showboat all opened between 1952-1957.
Soon gambling was no longer the cities biggest attraction, and Las Vegas became the entertainment capital of the world.
The biggest film stars and musical acts of the time began performing residencies in casinos and intimate venues in town. Show headliners included Frank Sinatra, Liberace, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. Carol Channing, and Bing Crosby. Many of whom relocating to Las Vegas permanently.
There are still remnants of this era sprinkled around our city. Much of which is Immaculately preserved, or accessible to drive-by or visit as a museum. Let’s take a trip down memory lane.
The Hartland Mansion
Address: 1044 S 6th St, Las Vegas, NV 89104-15
The lavish 31,000-square-foot Hartland Mansion is the largest private residence ever built in Las Vegas.
Built in the 1940’s, the mansion was originally two separate properties. Candy magnate Lawrence Arvey purchased both properties with plans to conjoin the two houses. He sent his architect to Disneyland to replicate the Plaza Inn on Main Street and the home’s exterior. In 1978, Arvey fled the country while on bond after facing life in prison for sex crimes.
The home has eight bedrooms and 13 bathrooms, it features an Elvis Room, a “Gone With the Wind” style staircase, 24-carat gold leaf bar, indoor and outdoor pools, over 30 chandeliers, a 400-person capacity “grand party room”, and a music room.
Over the years, the mansion has seen a reputable list of visitors including Michael Jackson, Ginger Rogers, Willie Nelson, Jackie Collins, Tony Bennett, Mae West, Don Rickles, Groucho Marx, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietriech, Ronald Reagan, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Esther Williams. It was also used as a filming location for the movie ‘Casino”.
Grammy award winning gospel singer Toni Hart purchased the property in 1980, until her death in 2014. It was sold for $2.9 million in 2018, the property is currently used as a rental venue to host weddings, receptions, birthday parties, and corporate events.
Address: 4982 Shirley St, Las Vegas, NV 89119
Known as “Mr. Showmanship,” Liberace embraced a lifestyle of bombastic exuberance both on and off the stage. Located south of UNLV the mansion was the manifestation of his glamorous and extravagant lifestyle.
Liberace, who was the highest-paid entertainer in the world for over 40 years, lived in this 14,393-square foot property from the mid-70’s until his death in 1987.
It was a nightlife hub, filled with flamboyant decorations such as cherub-filled ceiling frescoes, Sistine Chapel-style murals, etched mirrored walls, crystal chandeliers, greek statues, fully operational slot machines, marble pillars, and a famous Parisian-curved staircase shipped from Europe.
In 2013, the property was purchased out of foreclosure for $500,000 by British businessman Martyn Ravenhill. He spent millions restoring it back to its former glory. The property currently serves as his home. Ravenhill occasionally loans the residence out for events, benefits, and nonprofit organizations
The property became the first to receive a Clark County Historical designation.
Casa De Shenandoah
Address: 3310 East Sunset Road
Located on the corner of Pecos and Sunset in the southeast end of the valley, Casa De Shenandoah is most notably known as the former residence of “Mr. Las Vegas,” Wayne Newton.
Newton bought the property in 1966. The ranch sits on more than 36 acres of land, it includes the legendary southern-styled “white house” mansion and six other homes. By 1979, over 70 servants and aides lived on the ranch alongside Newton.
At one point, the ranch was home to 120 Arabian horses (including an Arabian horse breeding stable, and horse hospital), in addition to other exotic animals, including wallabies, ducks, peacocks, and monkeys.
It was the site of his lavish automobile collection, a parked private jet, and personal memorabilia and tokens from Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and other peers.
The ranch opened to the public in 2015 for tours, the tourist attraction closed in three years later and was placed into Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. It was sold for $5.56 million in July 2019.
The Jerry Lewis House
Address: 1701 Waldman Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89102
Last week, the former residence of the late comedian Jerry Lewis hit the market for $1.295 million. Built in 1964, the property is situated in the iconic Scotch 80s planned community. Lewis owned the 7,325 square foot 6 bedroom, 6 bathroom home for over 3 decades and it’s where he spent his later years.
Dubbed “The King of Comedy,” Lewis’ was known for his variety show with Dean Martin, billed as Martin & Lewis. Lewis hosted many of his showbiz pals and Vegas royalty in the residence during the peak of his career.
Many high profile figures have resided in the Scotch 80s neighborhood, situated on Rancho between Alta and Charleston, over the years, including Nicolas Cage, Steve Wynn, and Howard Hughes.
The Ted Binion Mansion
Address: 2408 Palomino Lane
This seemingly nondescript mansion is the backdrop to one of Las Vegas’ most talked-about mysteries.
The 6,600 square foot property near Rancho Circle was owned by Ted Binion, a wealthy gambling executive and son of the Vegas casino magnate, Ben “Benny” Binion, of Binion’s Horseshoe. Binion died in 1998, he took his last breath dying of a heroin and Xanax overdose.
His death, and the house became a morbid fascination and media spectacle.
It was speculated that the overdose was a premeditated hit on Binion, planned by his live-in girlfriend Sandy Murphy and her lover, Rick Tabish, or it was a tragic accident. The pair were convicted and charged in the murder of his death, but were later acquitted of the murder charges in a later trial.
Binion hid millions in and around his Las Vegas home, all of which went missing after his death. It is rumored to be buried on the property under odd mounds in the front and back yards. The home was put on the market in 2015 for $999,999.