Unfortunately, it’s too late to be able to save the Mapes Hotel and Casino as it was demolished on January 30, 2000. Until its destruction, it had a very interesting history and was a favorite meeting place for both tourists and residents alike.
The Mapes was the first major high-rise hotel built in the nation after World War II, opening in December 1947. It was located on the southeast corner of North Virginia and First Streets, just north of the Truckee River in Reno. The 12 stories held a hotel of 300 rooms and 40 suites, a casino, and the Sky Room, a famous nightclub and stage where celebrities performed.
The Mapes family expanded their casino holdings with another business but had difficulties competing with other newly opened Reno casinos in the 1980s. Financial problems overtook the family and the Mapes. The building fell into some decay and other new owners took over but also could not revive the business. The building was sold to the Reno Redevelopment Agency in 1996. In 1999, the City of Reno voted to demolish the hotel, despite the objections of area preservationists and historians. It was the first building on the National Register of Historic Places to be demolished since 1949.
While fond memories of being at the Mapes still reside with many who lived or came to Reno during the 1970s and 1980s, with its physical presence gone, newer visitors and residents often know nothing about it. However, the grassroots struggle by area preservationists and others will live on as the records of their efforts are being donated to our department. When all the materials are received and processed, the documentation about saving the Mapes will be available to anyone interested in learning more about the efforts of citizens fighting to save a city’s history.
We wish especially to thank the members of the Truckee Meadows Heritage Trust for agreeing to donate their “Save the Mapes” records as well as voting on July 4, 2014, to donate $1,000 to Special Collections. At that meeting their discussion included, but was not limited to, supporting the essential work our department does “to preserve a history of our community and the world for generations to come. Your presence is vital for research into a myriad of projects and subjects that otherwise would be lost.”