In November, the Nevada Preservation Foundation took on its first homeowner client. And what a client to have! Mr. Martyn Ravenhill, who recently purchased the former Liberace mansion on Shirley Street, hired the Nevada Preservation Foundation to assist with obtaining historic designation for this extremely culturally important home.
As many of you already know, historic designation can be obtained at any of several levels. The National Register of Historic Places designation is prestigious but it doesn’t provide any actual protections for a property. In most places, it is at the local level of historic designation that real protections kick in.
In Las Vegas, though, we have the unusual characteristic of being under the jurisdiction of two different bodies, generally depending on if you live north or south of Sahara Avenue. North of Sahara, the City of Las Vegas oversees historic designation, while south of Sahara in unincorporated Clark County historic designation is under the purview of the Clark County Commission. The former Liberace mansion, located on Shirley Street just south of Tropicana, is located in unincorporated Clark County.
To make this even more interesting, Clark County has a brand new ordinance that deals with historic designation. This ordinance is thanks to the work of Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, Clay and Denise Heximer, and the rest of the active preservationists in Paradise Palms. Before their hard work, there wasn’t a designation available in the county mainly because these homes are just now reaching the required 50-year-old mark for a historic property.
This ordinance is a more than excellent first step toward making historic designation available in the county. However, it is aimed solely at neighborhoods, leaving individual homes like the former Liberace mansion without a path to designation. Luckily, I was able to chat with Commissioner Giunchigliani about this issue. She expressed her interest in taking another look at the existing ordinance and see if it can’t be expanded. In the coming months, the Nevada Preservation Foundation will be researching the best means to make the Clark County designation ordinance a bit more broadly applicable.
All of these historic designation details lay out the backdrop to the fabulous event that Mr. Ravenhill hosted at the Liberace Mansion on December 9th. The event was a collaboration between Mr. Ravenhill, the Nevada Preservation Foundation and the Liberace Foundation. And for those of you who attended, you know it was a wonderful party!
The main aim of this reception was to launch Mr. Ravenhill’s book The Social Stockmarket the profits from which will go to the restoration of this important home. Guests were gifted a copy of this book personally signed by Mr. Ravenhill.
Furthermore, guests were invited to wander freely throughout the majority of the home while sipping wine and enjoying piano-shaped hors d’oeuvres. There were Nevada Preservation Foundation volunteers at the ready in each room to answer questions, while displays of how the room will look after the restoration dotted the home. In the ballroom, guests were treated to a live pianist and Liberace’s mirrored Rolls Royce courtesy of the Liberace Foundation.
All in all, about three hundred guests visited the former Liberace mansion that night. There were many VIPs and dignitaries in attendance, including Brian Paco Alvarez from the Liberace Foundation, Senator Ruben Kihuen, and Assemblywoman Lesley Cohen. It was an amazing event and everyone seem to genuinely be enjoying themselves.
In the months to come, the Nevada Preservation Foundation will be working with Mr. Ravenhill to obtain local and national historic designation for the Liberace Mansion. We are excited by this wonderful opportunity to work on a home that is important not only to our community and state but also to many across the globe.