LAS VEGAS -- "It's not that the event that occurred in this room was the most important thing, it was the series of events in the two year period of the hearings," said Robert Chattel, who serves as the consulting preservation architect on the restoration project of the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement.
Also known as The Mob Museum, it houses the court house at the center of hearings led by U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver on November 15, 1950. Then, the Senate Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce held its seventh in a series of 14 hearings. The Kefauver Committee Investigation contributed to a debate on organized crime.
"We have this room in tact," said Kathy Barrie, the museum's Curator. "It's the heart of the museum. It's the biggest, most authentic artifact and when people get here they have the feeling you often wish you have when you go into a historical place. You wish the walls could talk. These walls are going to be talking to you."
At the conclusion of the Kefauver Committee Investigation, there were more than 11,000 pages of information and more than 800 witnesses.
"People who had some information to give the committee to aid them in getting a good picture of what organized crime look like," said Barrie.
"Because, in other places throughout the country there was a crackdown on organized crime and organized crime came to Las Vegas really as a result of the group of hearings," said Chattel.
Then, said Barrie, "The tide had turned and one result in cities across the country is that there were people operating illegal gambling. Bar owners there could come here and be perfectly legal, and came they did, as did many of their customers. So, it was a boom for Las Vegas. It's a good day to celebrate."
The Mob Museum is under construction in the former United States Post Office and Court house that was dedicated on November 27, 1933 as the city's first federal building.
"We're preserving the character of this space," said Chattel.
"I think it will differentiate us from every other city in the world," said Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. "People will be anxiously coming to Las Vegas, with the expectation they'll be seeing this as a destination venue."
The museum starts at the beginning of the law enforcement approach to organized crime and the early years of Las Vegas.
"So for visitors that are both from Las Vegas or tourists, wondering how did Las Vegas become Las Vegas, how did Las Vegas become the city that it is today, those are things that will be answered."
The museum is expected to open in 2011.