John S. Park leaves his mark with neighborhood and school

John S. Park may not be the most celebrated figure in Las Vegas history, but he is regarded as one of the most important.

Park, for whom the historical downtown Las Vegas neighborhood and elementary school are named, moved to town in 1906 at age 53. He owned First State Bank, which stood on the corner of First and Fremont streets until 1957 , and he eventually became president of the Consolidated Power and Telephone Company, later known as the Southern Nevada Power Company.

From the beginning, Park set out to make a home of what was merely a stop on the Union Pacific.

The town was tough, but by all accounts, Park was tougher. Park bought Kyle Ranch in the northeast valley and built himself a home, referred to by the locals as "the mansion." Park’s bank was one of the few in Nevada to withstand the failing economy at the height of the Great Depression, according to Michael Green, professor of history at the College of Southern Nevada.

"Even George Wingfield out of Reno went bankrupt, and most did," Green said, referring to the wealthy and powerful banker, politician, miner and hotel owner. "First State Bank did just fine. It is really a testimony to Park’s ability and fortitude."

Park had his hands in a little bit of everything during the early days of Las Vegas, Green said. "Many of the early arrivals to Las Vegas invested together," he said. "Park was no different. He was very much in the middle of things."

While the family mansion was outside of town, chosen for its close proximity to water, Park spent much of his time in his home on the northeast corner of Fourth and Fremont streets, right in the middle of the action.

"When we think about the people who built Las Vegas, people usually go back to the Mormon settlers and jump to the casino builders, but (Park) was truly one of our founding fathers," Green said. "John S. Park is a key figure of the builders of this community. If we forget him, we lose part of our history."

The city of Las Vegas is attempting to ensure that never happens. In 2003, the city’s Historical Preservation Commission approved the designation of the John S. Park neighborhood as a historical resource. A couple of months later, the neighborhood was added to the state and National Register of Historic Places.

Later in life, Park and his family resided in the neighborhood, roughly bounded by Charleston Boulevard to the north, Franklin Avenue to the south, Fifth Place to the west and 10th Street to the east .

Courtney Mooney, city of Las Vegas historic preservation officer, said it is important to keep historical resources such as the John S. Park neighborhood, built in the 1940s, for future generations to enjoy.

"The neighborhood is a great snapshot of American life," she said. "Funding from the (federal) government was provided to build homes for military families."

Las Vegas received priority funding from the Federal Housing Administration due to the city’s role in the nation’s military defense efforts. The result was one of the valley’s first tract home communities.

Developers George Franklin and John Law built most of the houses, offering four models if home buyers did not have their own plans. The houses were mostly ranch-style and sold for between $4,000 and $12,000, according to the city’s website.

Neighborhood residents sought historical designation as protection from commercial encroachment. In 1999, casino innovator Bob Stupak sought approval for his plans to build a Titanic-shaped, 1,200-room casino, complete with an 1,800-seat theater housed in an iceberg in the vicinity of the neighborhood.

A local historian and author in his free time and honorary consul of Monaco by trade, Jonathan Warren spent some of his youth living in the John S. Park neighborhood and attending the school of the same name. Warren said he has fond memories of the area.

"The first time I walked home alone from school was from John S. Park Elementary," he said. "In some ways, (the neighborhood) is still very similar to the way it was in 1969. The people who say, ‘There’s no history or culture in Las Vegas,’ those people need to get out more."

Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter Nolan Lister at nlister@viewnews.com or 702-383-0492.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nonprofit provides clothing for homeless
Sydney Grover of Can You Spare A Story?, talks about how she founded the non-profit organization. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Family remembers deceased mother
Family members of Adriann Gallegos remember her. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Restoring classic Corvettes to perfection
Members of the National Corvette Restorers Society Convention talk about what it takes to earn the NCRS Top Flight Award for a restored Corvette at South Point in Las Vegas on Tuesday July 17, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Clark County recount votes in commission’s District E primary
Clark County staff begin the recount requested by candidate Marco Hernandez in the democratic primary for the County Commission's District E seat on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Long-running local hip hop producer wants Vegas rappers to shine
Las Vegas Hip Hop producer and co-owner of Digital Insight Recording Studios Tiger Stylz reflects on 30 years of music production in the city. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Construction for new 51s ballpark underway
New home of the Las Vegas 51s is planned to be finished by March 2019 in Summerlin according to team president Don Logan. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like