Something old gets a new title. The retro La Concha visitor’s center at the Neon Museum has just been added to the Nevada State Register of Historic Places. No offense to those born before the ’60s but in Vegas years, this building is downright antique.
Built in 1961, this former motel lobby was disassembled and relocated from its South Las Vegas Boulevard location to its current home at the Neon Museum in 2006. This wasn’t a Lego build-off my friends, preservationists raised $600,000 to save this crown jewel and make sure it was lovingly preserved for generations to come.
Not totally unlike a place you might see on The Jetsons, the La Concha is a great example of “Googie” design. Go ahead and Google Googie to see what we’re talking about. Confession, we just wanted to say Google Googie.
The mid-century design used thin-shell concrete and glass to resemble a seashell so it would be immediately recognizable from the street. Who needs advertising when you’ve branded yourself like a boss?
“We are incredibly gratified that the State of Nevada has recognized the La Concha as a significant historic site,” says Danielle Kelly, executive director, Neon Museum. “Roadside architecture like the La Concha lobby, as well as the irresistibly alluring neon signage synonymous with Las Vegas, collectively function as aesthetic traditions cherished by Nevadans.”
The historical significance is a pretty big deal. The motel was designed by the first African American member of the American Institute of Architects, Paul Revere Williams and, because Googie was not recognized as a “legitimate” architecture style until recently, this is one of the few examples of the roadside design and a stellar one.
The Neon Museum, also creepily but fondly referred to as the boneyard, is the final resting place for many iconic neon signs from Vegas’ yesteryears. Day and night tours are available seven days a week with multiple local, military, student and senior discounts.