We here at the Nevada Preservation Foundation are excited to announce that the former home of Cyril Wengert at 600 E. Charleston Avenue is the newest addition to the Las Vegas Historic Property Register. Currently owned by Zak Bagans of the television show Ghost Adventures, he hired NPF to assemble the nomination and work to have the building named to the register. At the February 17th meeting of the Las Vegas City Council, the building – formerly owned by one of the original incorporators of NV Energy – was added to this prestigious list of historic Las Vegas buildings.
The Wengert Residence
Constructed in 1938 as Cyril Wengert ascended in his career, this home was designed by H. Clifford Nordstrom in the Tudor Revival style. Tudor Revivals, like other Period Revivals, feature a steeply pitched roof, half timbering, a high chimney, and pillared front porch. Tudor Revival homes were meant to replicate modest country houses often found in Europe.
However, the Wengert Residence was anything but modest in 1938. It was among the largest homes in Las Vegas at that time. It was a four bedroom, three bathroom, two-story home that also included a dressing suite, maid’s quarters, large living room, small office, sitting room/library, dining room, kitchen with breakfast nook, and even a small cellar.
The Wengert Residence itself has maintained much of its historic integrity over the past almost 80 years. The original building has all but one of its original windows, and retains the half timbering, front door, and other features. Some changes have been made to the original home, including the conversion of a backdoor to a stained glass window. Overall, the original portion of the building has generally maintained its historic integrity.
The additions to the building that were made in 1984 and 1987 were in the Tudor Revival style. Like the original home, the additions also include the steeply pitched roofs, modest half timbering, and a matching stucco exterior. While these are clearly additions, they were thoughtfully done and generally maintain continuity with the original home. These additions are an excellent example of adaptive reuse that allows for the retention of the building through thoughtful design.
Who was Cyril Wengert?
Cyril Wengert was the son of German immigrants Frank and Ella Wengert. Born in Austin, Minnesota, he moved to Las Vegas in 1907 at the age of 18 with his mother and brothers and sisters. He left for a brief time in 1909 to attend business school in Seattle, but returned and spent the rest of his life here in Las Vegas.
It was Cyril’s degree in business that qualified him to work in the banking industry in Las Vegas. However, it was his penmanship that Mr. John S. Park – owner of the First State Bank – initially noticed. Mr. Park happened to see a check that Cyril had written and brought into the bank to be cashed. He was so impressed that he brought Cyril on as a teller and bookkeeper in 1911.
Mr. Park suggested that Cyril also attend to the books for the new utility and telephone company that had just been formed. The name of this company was Southern Nevada Power and Telephone Company and when he was later promoted to full cashier in 1929, he took the opportunity to become an incorporator of this new utility.
Cyril remained at First National Bank for 35 years. When he left in 1946, his departure from banking was front-page news. He took a position with the Southern Nevada Power and Telephone Company as a vice president and general commercial manager. When in 1954 the company split into separate power and telephone companies, Cyril remained with what became Nevada Power Company.
Mr. Wengert was not your average executive. In fact, when Nevada Power Company decided to bring the company under one roof, the building was named the Cyril S. Wengert Building. Cyril remained with Nevada Power Company for five more years until his death in February of 1965. Clearly, Mr. Wengert was a key figure in the creation of what today we know as NV Energy. His importance to both the business and civic life of Las Vegas was echoed by the Las Vegas Sun upon his death, “Cyril Wengert is considered one of the leading citizens of Las Vegas.”
The Wengert Residence even before it was historic was identified as an important home in the Las Vegas community. In 1951, the Review Journal highlighted a photo spread that was titled “Beautiful Homes Found in Las Vegas Residential Area.” It included interior and exterior photos of four remarkable Las Vegas homes. Among these homes was the Wengert Residence. It was marked with the title “Gracious Formality” and included remarks on the Wengert family and the many community gatherings that had been held at the home.
The Nevada Preservation Foundation is proud to have worked to get this important piece of our community’s social and architectural history named to the Las Vegas Register. We look forward to many more additions in the future.