Las Vegas Mob Museum Grand Opening

The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement in Las Vegas, known as the Mob Museum, opened to the public on Tuesday, February 14. The nationally recognized museum is housed in a former Federal courthouse and U.S. Post Office. An artifact in itself, the building was carefully and meticulously rehabilitated to tell the story of organized crime and law enforcement in America. Chattel Architecture Planning and Preservation, Inc. served as consulting preservation architect, advising on the building’s rehabilitation and historic tax credits.

The Neoclassical style building was constructed in 1933 and is listed on the Nevada State Register and National Register of Historic Places. It is also one of 14 sites in the nation where the 1950-51 U.S. Senate Special Committees to investigate Crime in Interstate Commerce, also known as the Kefauver committee, were held to expose organized crime. 

Chattel was involved at all stages of the project. The firm completed initial studies to determine how best to accommodate building reuse, preparing a reuse feasibility study for the property. This involved mapping of historically significant spaces, evaluation of reuse opportunities and constraints, and collaboration with the project team to prepare conceptual interior layouts for a world-class museum facility. Chattel continued its involvement with design collaboration on the rehabilitation of the building, including a detailed restoration of the courtroom (the site of the Kefauver committee hearings), post office lobby, and loggia on the south elevation. The firm prepared scopes of work for building materials conservation, preliminary structural and code analysis and photo documentation. Chattel has also regularly monitored construction to ensure work is executed in conformance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (Secretary’s Standards). 

In addition to grant writing, Chattel wrote an amendment to the property’s National Register of Historic Places nomination to include its significance for association with the Kefauver committee. This documentation has been accepted by the Keeper of the National Register, making the project eligible for a Save America’s Treasures (SAT) grant, which it received in 2006. This grant was the largest SAT grant awarded that year.

Chattel has also worked in consultation with Nevada State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and National Park Service (NPS) and on completion of Section 106 compliance and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation for compliance with grant requirements and other covenants, and historic investment tax credits. According to SHPO, the $42 million museum project is “thought to be the largest project to receive historic tax credits in Nevada” (Las Vegas Sun, September 7, 2011).

Chattel Team attended the grand opening ceremony and explored the museum’s engaging exhibits and interactive, themed environments, including a recreation of the Kefauver committee hearing in the courtroom and police line-up. Staff members had a chance to chat with Oscar B. Goodman, former Las Vegas Mayor and the Mob’s go-to defense attorney, who was one of the Mob Museum’s original visionaries.
Chattel in a line-up
Chattel Team also visited the Neon Museum Boneyard, which holds over 100 donated and rescued signs dating from the late 1930s through the early 90s that represent motels, local businesses, and celebrated casino resorts from throughout the Las Vegas Valley. Chattel has been involved in design collaboration and Section 106 review of the relocated former La Concha Motel Lobby, which will be rehabilitated as a Visitor Center for the Neon Museum.
Chattel on a tour of the Neon Museum