Plans to tear down Moulin Rouge have some fighting to restore its history

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The Moulin Rouge had a brief history in Las Vegas, but the hotel and casino’s legacy remains intact.

As the city’s first racially integrated-resort, the hotel and casino was only open for a few months in 1955. 

“The stars used to come after performing on the Strip,” said  Jarmilla McMillan-Arnold.

These days, the Moulin Rouge is best known for being the home to squatters.  However, the few remnants of the old site are being torn down.

“Being on the cover of Life magazine one month after opening, I mean what a source of pride for black people in America at that time,” said Katherine Duncan, Ward 5 Chamber of Commerce.

Five years after the Moulin Rouge opened and closed in 1955, a declaration was signed allowing African-Americans into Strip properties.  McMillan-Arnold’s father was President of the Las Vegas NAACP, so he was around when it happened.

“It’s important to remember the site,” McMillan-Arnold said.  “The site is the beginning of West Las Vegas.” 

McMillan-Arnold is on the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, which agreed on Wednesday to tear down what was left of the Moulin Rouge.

After a pair of fires destroyed most of the Moulin Rouge, the property became more synonymous with associated squatters and safety issues.
   
However, Katherine Duncan says it’s worth saving.

“Typically, historic preservation looks for ways to save a property,” Duncan said.

She is desperately trying to save the Moulin Rouge and bing it back to what it once was.

“We’re going to rebuild the Moulin Rouge, in spite of what the HPC and all those guys say,” Duncan said.  “We don’t have a choice in this so you can tell them that.”

The sign, unique pillars still on the site, as well as the original foundation will be saved.  City leaders hope to put a plaque at the site as a persistent reminder of what happened there once the remnants of the old place are gone.

“The famous part of the Moulin Rouge is gone,” McMillan-Arnold said. “They’ve already torn it down.”  “You gonna take the building, but don’t take what’s going to keep the history?”

The property is in receivership and owned by a bank.  City planning officials expect to start demolition by the end of the year.

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