Historic Las Vegas property getting greener

Hey, are you doing anything this evening? You are invited to the August Green Drinks event at the Harrison House. Mingle with many of Las Vegas’ green leaders, movers and shakers at this historic west side property that is being rehabilitated into a green demonstration resource for the community.

Food and beverages will be on hand and local band Do Little Too Late will playing the tunes. It’s a chance to learn about and even become a part of the history. It all takes place from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Harrison House, 1001 F. St., Las Vegas .

Harrison House was constructed as a private residence by Geneva Harrison in 1942. She provided temporary housing for African-American entertainers and prominent black Americans during the segregationist period of the 1940s and ’50s. Thus Harrison House has a direct relevance to people and activities connected to the civil rights movement in Las Vegas.

It is difficult to imagine but, at that time, people of color were not permitted to mingle with other guests nor could they gamble, dine or stay in the very hotels where they performed. Harrison House is listed as one of the attractions along the city of Las Vegas’ Pioneer Trail and in the process for historic designation listing .

Many of the era’s most famous stars stayed there. During one week in September 1949, Mrs. Harrison hosted Sammy Davis Jr., Jack Benny’s sidekick Eddie (Rochester) Anderson, singer Bob Parrish, nightclub entertainers and Flamingo headliners the Edwards Sisters, the Jubilaires, and musician/singer Arthur Lee Simpkins.

The original 1942 structure remains intact despite being vandalized in 2009. Harrison House is undergoing a transformation, melding its rich black history with modern green innovation. The renovation is being directed by Rick Van Diepen, executive director of Green Chips, with a goal to become a state-of-the-art, net-zero energy, LEED-certified model demonstration home as well as a cultural and community resource center.

The driving forces behind the Harrison House project have been Katherine Duncan and Stanton Wilkerson, both of the Ward 5 Chamber of Commerce. They share a vision for the community that includes lower energy bills, new job opportunities and an overall goal of sustainability . In a brief YouTube video (posted on my website at www.greendream.biz), Duncan, president of the Ward 5 Chamber, says “Going green has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for us.”

Wilkerson, who also serves as president of Harrison House Inc. explains, “This can be done on a small scale and duplicated throughout Southern Nevada on a larger scale. It’s important for our neighborhood that we have places where people can come and sit down to talk.”

Green Drinks Las Vegas is a social and business networking platform for people interested in greening Las Vegas. Its motto is “Participate, Educate and Connect.” I can think of no better time or place to do that than at tonight’s gathering . What we do today creates the history of tomorrow .

Steve Rypka is a green living consultant and president of GreenDream Enterprises, a company committed to helping people live lighter on the planet. For more information or to reach Rypka, visit www.greendream.biz.

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