View logo

Choose your View

Historic railroad cottage renovation is under way at the Clark County Museum

The Clark County Museum is restoring a piece of downtown Las Vegas’ history.

Work began July 2 to renovate a historic cottage used by Union Pacific Railroad workers in the early 1900s.

“They will be getting rid of lead paint and asbestos,” said Erik Pappa, the director of public communications with Clark County.

The property will accompany other houses on Heritage Street, a collection at the museum of restored historic buildings that depict life from different decades in Las Vegas, Boulder City and Henderson.

Before downtown transformed into casinos and hotels, there was a community of railroad workers who set up their lives in the area.

“It was originally four blocks between Second (Street) and Fourth (Street),” said Mark Hall-Patton, administrator for the Clark County Museums. “It was one of those first mass housing subdivisions.”

But times changed as Las Vegas began to take shape.

Many of the cottages were remodeled into business offices. But most just went away over time, Hall-Patton said.

“The land became more valuable than the houses,” he said.

The museum acquired one of the last houses in 2002 with the hope of one day renovating it.

“We took the one that was the most intact,” he said.

The other properties went to the Springs Preserve.

The house, formerly located at 521 Third St., belonged to Brian Cram, a former superintendent for the Clark County School District, Hall-Patton said.

“His family donated it to us,” he added.

The first obstacle was moving it nearly 25 miles from its location to the Clark County Museum, 1830 S. Boulder Highway.

For convenience, houses in the early 1900s were built with cinder block opposed to wood, adding to the difficulty of the move.

But the property was eventually shipped to its new location.

“The truck never went above a mile an hour,” Hall-Patton said.

The museum had to wait for funding before it could restore the house. That happened this year.

Renovation of the property began in 115-degree heat to deal with some of the safety issues, such as removing the lead paint.

After that is completed, a construction team will work to restore the interior of the house, which Hall-Patton said should take about two months.

As they have done with other properties on Heritage Street, museum staff members plan to decorate the inside to reflect the time period.

Pappa said the project will be open to the public when it is completed in the fall.

“We will probably have a soft opening for people to view,” Hall-Patton said. “We won’t have an official dedication until the fall, when it’s a lot cooler outside.”

With downtown currently going through a revitalization phase, Hall-Patton loves that he is able to hold onto a piece of the area’s original history.

“It’s not the same downtown,” he said. “It’s good to know where we came from and how we got there. That’s why the museum is important.”

There is one more property that needs to be renovated in the museum’s collection.

“We will get to it as we get funding,” Hall-Patton said, “maybe in the next couple of years.”

The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for seniors and children.

For more information, call 702-455-7955.

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at or 702-387-5201.