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Restored railroad cottage opening to public in Henderson

If walls could talk, the original concrete blocks of the historic railroad cottage at the Clark County Museum would have more than 100 years’ worth of stories.

It housed some of the first families of Las Vegas before being relocated nearly 25 miles to its new home in Henderson.

After months of restoration, the cottage will be dedicated Saturday at the museum, 1830 S. Boulder Highway, as it opens to the public to showcase life in the early 1900s.

“This is the first (cottage) to be renovated to historic condition and open to the public,” said Mark Hall-Patton, the administrator for the Clark County museum system. “It’s amazing to see it open.”

Crossing the threshold of the 763-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bathroom house, guests are ushered back to a simple time that had smaller stoves, kitchens with built-in pie racks and living rooms with Edison record players.

“(The cottage) tells the story of Clark County in a way,” Hall-Patton said. “You get a sense of what was real. This is not something embalmed. This is how people lived.”

The exhibit joins other houses on Heritage Street, which is a collection of restored historic buildings that depict life from different eras in Las Vegas, Henderson and Boulder City.

Hall-Patton said the railroad cottage was one of 64 houses built between 1909 and 1911 on four blocks between Casino Center Boulevard and Fourth Street and Garces Avenue and Clark Avenue.

Each house was made of concrete.

“It kept houses cool during the summer and insulated during the winter,” he said.

At $18 a month, a two-bedroom house probably would have gone to long-term employees such as conductors, engineers, clerks and brakemen with the railroad.

The museum acquired this house, formerly located at 521 Third St., and moved it in 2002.

It belonged to the family of former Clark County School District Superintendent Brian Cram.

“I think it’s wonderful that we can preserve our roots,” County Commissioner Mary Beth Scow said. “It helps people understand where we came from.”

Scow toured the property Thursday.

“This enlightens us to what the lifestyle was like back then compared to what it is today,” she said. “Life was more simple.”

There are still five cottages located in the downtown area and four at the Springs Preserve.

The houses downtown, however, have been remodeled, Hall-Patton said.

With the cottage, the museum is dedicating a root cellar that was originally part of Bishop Ranch, which operated from 1905 to 1917.

The cellar was discovered in an archaeological dig in 2008 at Wetlands Park. It was moved to the museum that same year in a joint effort by the county, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the Las Vegas Valley Water District, the U.S. Bureau of Water Reclamation and HRA Archaeology, a Las Vegas company.

Contact reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 702-387-5201.

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