Boulder City is a town that takes its history seriously and that commitment will be on full display later this month as the city celebrates Historic Preservation Day.
Celebrations and presentations will take place on May 13 at both the Nevada State Railroad Museum and at the Historic Water Filtration Plant. The events are part of a national movement that began in the 1970s and was extended to the entire month of May in 2005 by the National Trust in an effort to promote historic places and heritage tourism as well as demonstrating the social and economic benefits of historic preservation. This year’s celebration will focus on the railroad and its importance in the development of Boulder City.
As a part of the month-long celebration, one property is chosen each year to represent the preservation efforts of the earliest buildings in the city. Three properties were nominated this year, all within the historic downtown area of Boulder City:
• The Boulder Dam Hotel, built in 1933 and renovated in the 1990s. It is the home of the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum operated by the Boulder City Museum and Historical Association.
• The building at 554 Nevada Way, which houses the Dam Roast House &Browder Bookstore. Opened shortly after Christmas in 1931 when it was known as Browder’s Cafe and owned by businesswoman Ida Browder, the building lays claim to being the first permanent commercial structure in Boulder City.
• A private home located at 524 Birch Street that was one of many built in 1938 by the Los Angeles Bureau of Power and Light to provide housing for their employees working on the Hoover Dam project. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Boulder City Historic District.
According to real estate records, the current improvements were done by the previous owner who sold it to the current owners in 2021. The original garage located on the alley behind the home was converted into a casita and a new two-car garage was added. The original 100-amp electrical service has been upgraded to 400 amps and all of the electrical and most of the plumbing were replaced.
Given the 90th anniversary of the hotel, it might have seemed a shoo-in for this year’s award. However, after commission chairperson Blair Davenport thanked all of the nominees and noted that they are all worthy of support, the commission voted 3-1 to give the 2023 award to the home on Birch Street. Commission member Charles Hauntz was the lone vote for the hotel.
Commission member Ray Turner said, “I appreciate the work that has gone into maintaining and improving the home at 524 Birch Street and I like the idea of rewarding the property owners of these homes in the Historic District for the upkeep and investments they make in retaining the historic features.”
Davenport and commission member Glenn Feyen concurred.
“I like the hotel,” Feyen said. “It’s a beautiful building and when we have visitors in town we make sure we take them there and we go through the museum. My thought is that the hotel has a lot of people working on the upkeep. I lean toward recognizing the individual property owner for their effort. There is a lot of work that goes into maintaining an older home like that and I would like to reward that effort with an award.”
The decision of the commission now moves on to the City Council, which will make a presentation of the award along with a final announcement of the activities planned for Historic Preservation Day at the council’s meeting scheduled for May 9.