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Hotel, museum have great story to tell

I have always been a history buff.

I can probably thank my parents for that. When I was growing up, we traveled the Western U.S. frequently, stopping in cities with great histories and touring their streets and museums.

It's something that has followed me into adulthood.

Whenever I visit a new place, I always seek out some sort of historical aspect to study and learn about. Rarely do I miss a chance to visit a museum, no matter how large or small. One of my favorites is the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum, which I joined as a member when I was in high school and college, allowing me unlimited visits, and have since shared with my family.

Ghost towns and their tales have always held a special interest for me. And when it comes to my reading material, I can often be found nose-deep in biographies or historical fiction novels.

Even my career, in a twisted sort of way, has a historical nature to it. While reporting on the current events of the day, I help create a written history for the city.

Coming to work each day in the downtown historical district of Boulder City makes me smile. I love walking around looking at the buildings' architechture and imagining what types of events took place inside years ago.

Sitting in the shadow of Hoover Dam, I sometimes have to take a moment to reflect on its historical significance and importance for the country.

I know I am not alone in my love for old things (my husband likes to joke that's one of the reasons I married him as he is a few years older than me). Boulder City has a large contingent of those who want to help preserve pieces of the past.

The recent formation of the Historic Boulder City Foundation is one prime example. So is the Boulder City Museum and Historical Association.

Association members and history lovers gathered Friday night to help pay tribute to one of our city's greatest historical artifacts, the Boulder Dam Hotel, and to honor Michael and Teresa Giroux, who donated a year's labor and materials to rehabilitate and help preserve the hotel's exterior.

Preserving the city's history is what sets Boulder City apart from other small towns across America, according to Leslie Woodbury, the association's development officer.

Woodbury said the recent upgrades to the hotel's exterior will help protect it for many years to come, and changes to some of the paint colors will make it more efficient to operate.

She also told those assembled that the 16 of the hotel's 20 rooms are exactly the same as they were when the hotel was built so it can be used without risking its historical integrity.

Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, who attended the soiree, commended everyone for their efforts to preserve this integral piece of history that plays a key role in Southern Nevada and the entire state.

"I'm one of your soldiers in arms," he told the group. "If there is anything I can do, let me know," he said.

"Don't think I didn't get his number," Woodbury quickly responded before turning over the podium to the event's special guest speaker, Tony Baby, who designed the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institute.

Baby offered his insight into the importance of the hotel and Boulder City Museum, especially because of it significance to national and local history and the technical lesson it offers about the building of Hoover Dam.

"Gov. (Brian) Sandoval made a statement that the past is the foundation for the future. It's true," he said. "The museum is a fundamental tool for the evolution of Boulder City."

Baby said local residents know the history of the community and have shared their photographs and stories with the association.

"That's what makes their history so valuable, because it's so accurate."

Those stories and information on museum artifacts also motivate other to learn more or take action. Without them, "it's just old stuff," he said.

That stuff includes biographies of residents, thousands of photographs and plenty of artifacts, said Roger Shoaff, general manager of the hotel and museum. Between visitors to the museum, roughly 20,000 people a year, and guests of the hotel, they sharing the story of Boulder City.

And that is a his- and hers-story worth telling others about.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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