Historic Moulin Rouge Burns - 8 News NOW

Historic Moulin Rouge Burns

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The closed Moulin Rouge Hotel in 2006 (from Wikipedia). The closed Moulin Rouge Hotel in 2006 (from Wikipedia).
The Moulin Rouge opened in 1955. The Moulin Rouge opened in 1955.
Firefighters respond to the four-alarm fire. Firefighters respond to the four-alarm fire.

LAS VEGAS, Nv. -- Fire crews are cleaning up after a four-alarm blaze at the historic Las Vegas Moulin Rouge. The fire started shortly after 11:30 a.m. When the fire first roared to life, flames and smoke could be seen from around the valley.

The Moulin Rouge, near Bonanza and US-95, opened in 1955 as the first and only integrated casino in Nevada. It was only open for five months. Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Pearl Bailey and Sammy Davis Jr. were among headliners who appeared in the Club Rouge showroom. The hotel made the June 20, 1955 cover of Life magazine.

SLIDESHOW: Fire at the historic Moulin Rouge

"We would all jam and have plenty of fun," said Bob Bailey, Master of Ceremonies at the Moulin Rouge in the 1950's. His wife Anna was one of the club's dancers.

The club made Las Vegas history. "It was the only place were people of various cultures could congregate," said Bob.

It was the only racially integrated hotel in the valley and it played host to the stars. When the Moulin Rouge came to West Las Vegas, it brought new life with it. New homes and businesses sprung up. When the club closed, the neighborhood around it fell on hard times.

There were a number of efforts to reopen the club, but one of the latest was dashed by the fire in 2003 that destroyed the main building. "To see it burn down is the same as to see one of your children getting into trouble," said Bailey.

The fire probably dashed any hope of ever seeing the Moulin Rouge rise from the ashes. The complex has been declared a hazard and has been closed to the public for years. This fire is probably the final blow.

The Moulin Rouge will live on only thru pictures and the iconic signs that were saved and moved to the Neon Boneyard.

In February, a request to tear down the historic building was considered because, according to the Uniform Code of Dangerous Buildings, the Moulin Rouge was considered to be a public nuisance. That same month, the owners filed for bankruptcy even though there was still talk of redeveloping the property.

The long-closed property has had a string of owners and renovation plans and has long been a focus of preservationists.

A foreclosure auction for the property was held at 10:00 a.m. yesterday and the property did not sell. The City of Las Vegas says the Moulin Rouge Development Corporation indicated to the city that they planned to rectify code enforcement violations this week.

A spokesperson for the group would not comment about the recent foreclosure, but they released a statement saying,

"We stand steadfast in our vision for a new Moulin Rouge Hotel & Casino. This untimely incident may appear to hinder progress but in no way halts our momentum. We remain diligent; awaiting final investigative results."

The City of Las Vegas says the cause of the fire is still undetermined.

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