Liza Minnelli Riviera Dressing Room Salvage

The summer of 2016 saw the implosion of one of the Strip’s last “original” casino resorts, the Riviera Hotel and Casino. No matter which side of this debate you are on, sometimes we have to come to terms with the notion that not all buildings can be saved. This is the situation that we were faced with, when in the Spring of 2015 we were approached by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) informing us that the Riviera was indeed slated for demolition.

We did the next best thing and worked with the LVCVA to identify any elements in the Riviera that should be saved and repurposed. After an extensive afternoon of scouting out the building, we compiled our list of elements that we thought were most in need of saving. We considered several aspects: portability, location in the building, association with the original structure, use by a prominent personality in Riviera history, and usability in a new context.

There were many architectural features that we considered salvaging. However, given our limited resources and storage as a new organization, we knew we couldn’t save it all. In the end, we asked for only one significant set of fixtures: the cherry red bath and sinks, the Lucite and gold towel holders, and the vanity light fixtures that were located in the dressing room of Liza Minnelli during her residency at the Riviera.

Once we had decided on these fixtures, we began to look for assistance in their removal. Diversified Demolition agreed to do the labor pro bono and removed all of the fixtures. They are currently crated and stored with Tiberti Construction. At some point in the future, we plan to feature them in our soon-to-be annual fundraising Gala, where they will the showcase item of a silent auction.

This was a bittersweet success for us, but architectural salvage can have its place in historic preservation. As Katherine Scott stated in an issue of The Minnesota Preservationist:

“Preservationists are sometimes faced with the unfortunate possibility that a structure will be demolished. While the least desirable outcome of a preservation struggle is demolition, such a scenario still has the potential for positive outcomes. Through the practice of architectural salvage, it is possible for many significant elements of a structure to be saved.”