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Cool old Casino
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BC Dave
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Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 1443

PostPosted: Jan Sun 27, 2013 6:26 pm    Post subject: Cool old Casino Reply with quote

Here's one from Reno's colorful past. I wonder if anyone from our board ever ventured into, saw, or even heard of The Palace Club Casino. I think it was where Harrah's parking lot structure now stands. It had, for it's size, the most incredible sign. I know that Harold's Club mural was saved. I wonder if anybody saw fit to save this sign - Guess they'd have to be crazy! The casino closed in 1979 when Harrah's bought the property. It had been operating since the 30's. My first trip to Reno was in 1985, so I missed this little gem.

John, maybe John Evanoff knows something about this place. There's a two page write-up in "The Rise of the Biggest Little City" by Dwayne King, but it's mostly concerned with the casino's ownership and management history. Hearing some first hand stories from J.E. would be interesting.



Last edited by BC Dave on Oct Thu 11, 2018 12:36 pm; edited 2 times in total
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spdmrcht



Joined: 12 Oct 2012
Posts: 484

PostPosted: Jan Sun 27, 2013 8:30 pm    Post subject: Now that is Cool. Reply with quote

I've never seen that before, The first time I can ever remember
being in Reno, was with my parents in the 50s I think.
The only thing I remember is we walked in the front
door of a casino, and right there standing in front of
me was what looked like a 20' Polar Bear on its hind
legs! I'm thinking that might of been Harold's club,
can anyone confirm that??
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CaSwede



Joined: 28 Feb 2006
Posts: 866

PostPosted: Jan Mon 28, 2013 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is a great picture! I was in Reno during the time period, but my memory bank is blank on that casino.

Hey spdmrcht- I think that polar bear was in Elko. I believe it was at the Stockman casino. If you ever saw that polar bear you would not forget it. Maybe the one you saw was a twin?
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spdmrcht



Joined: 12 Oct 2012
Posts: 484

PostPosted: Jan Mon 28, 2013 8:22 pm    Post subject: Bear. Reply with quote

Ca, that is very possible, I wasn't very Casino lit. at 8yrs.old? LOL
But it was a Big damn Bear. Oh and a flash back. there was a
One Armed Bandit Slot on each side of the Bear! We also used to
go thru LV and drive at night, and stop at the motel that had the
above ground pool with the big port hole windows in it, My parents
slept and I played in the pool. Life was good.
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Crapsjunkie



Joined: 03 Apr 2010
Posts: 40

PostPosted: Jan Tue 29, 2013 1:32 pm    Post subject: Palace Club Reply with quote

Ok I can admit I was in the Palace club more than once. Now what do I remember. Not much. I do remember old Nickel Slots. If memory serves the Palace Club was located on the corner of Commercial and Center. If I remember correct when we were really broke we would drop by the Palace on our way to the old Overland Hotel to dig around in the trash to find Free Nickel Coupons and 4 for 1 Drinks! LOL There is no worse place to be in the world than Reno on a Sat. night, broke and sober. Those 4 for 1 Coupons saved the day more than once!

Somewhere along the line the Palace was owned by the same guy who opened the Primadona. Yes I was often in the PD. Under age, saw the first Topless Dancers in my life and first ever Casino Show. Reno was one hell'va town for a young college student.
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BC Dave
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Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 1443

PostPosted: Jan Tue 29, 2013 2:44 pm    Post subject: Thanks Crapsjunkie! Reply with quote

That little story brings the old place back to life a bit. I bet that sign was impressive. 4 for 1 drink coupons! - That's impressive.
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Crapsjunkie



Joined: 03 Apr 2010
Posts: 40

PostPosted: Jan Tue 29, 2013 7:34 pm    Post subject: 4 Drinks for a $1 Reply with quote

Reno for years was our favorite Town and in it's day was the place to be. OMG the nights in Reno. We spent most of our time playing Nickels at Harrahs, Nevada Club, and Harold's. Breakfast at the Cal-Nev , Ham and Eggs for $ .49. One trip on a tight budget (as always) we had Chilli Dogs (Guy Trip) $.39 , three times a day at the Nugget in Sparks. Went home with nothing but a hangover and Shell Credit Card. Reno was not just fun it was Super Fun. Laws were a little loser and people walked all over Downtown with Drinks and carting those famous Buckets with coins. Very exiting town with most of the Big places having live music or open Cabarets. 2 Drink Minimums and some with 24 hr Entertainment. Oh well....
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jevanoff



Joined: 29 Jan 2013
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Jan Tue 29, 2013 8:37 pm    Post subject: palace Reply with quote

The Palace Club has a lot of history. Most everyone in Reno who gambled in the late 1950's thru the 1960's played at the Palace. I remember a lot of famous people including a few actors were mentioned who stopped into the Palace for a drink or to play. It's two levels of casino and bars were a little different in that the downstairs was actually more quiet and bar friendly. It was in 1970 when I once stopped into play after my shift as a craps dealer at Harrah's just down the street. I had made $40 in tips (average back then) and decided to see if I could double it up. Well, I got lucky and was staring down at a little over $500 at the blackjack table when a Pit Boss came up and told me to get out. He thought I was counting cards and after a few terse words from him including the fact I was barred from playing any card games there, I left. I only went back a few more times to have a couple drinks downstairs with some friends. The place fell apart pretty badly until Harrahs bought it up and delivered it into casino gambling pergatory as a parking garage. It was orgiginally owned by the Petricciani family who bought the land in 1888 and started a little bar and casino on the corner where eventually the more modern casino would stand. The casino did well in the 1930's because it was next to the Bank Club on the main street at the time which went east and west (Commercial Row) and was near the train station just down the street in front of the old Overland Hotel Casino and very near the most oppulent hotel The Golden Hotel Casino. A large fire gutted the small casino but it came back and became the bright spot on Reno's Center Street and Commercial Row in the late 1940's and well into the 50's. The business started to turn the other way in the 60's with most of the casinos running down Virginia Street taking the larger part of the business primarily because of the vision of Bill Harrah. The Mapes, Harold's Club, Harrahs, CalNeva, Nevada Club, Silver Dollar, Horseshoe, Primadonna, Riverside, Silver Spur, and a few other joints took most of the tourist money into their coffers and the side street casinos began to fail. The New China Club, the Holiday, the Overland, the Turf Club and the other Commercial Street properties withered and died or were bought up by other casino owners. The 1977 boom including the Sahara (later the Hilton, then the Flamingo Reno) and MGM (now the Grand Sierra) forced all the small properties into selling to bigger casino owners although there were many old families who held onto their small pieces of land along both sides of Virginia and Sierra Street and would only lease the property to the casino owners. That proved to be the eventual undoing of the great Reno boom downtown except for a couple companies building north of the tracks (Eldorado, Circus Circus and then Silver Legacy). There were other casinos of course including the Fitzgeralds, Gold Dust downtown (which became the Riverboat), Gold Dust West, Peppermill, Atlantis (old Clarion and older Golden Door), Pioneer, Onslow, Comstock, Old Reno, Eddie's Fabulous Fifties, Money Tree, Monte Carlo, Ponderosa, Sands, Sundowner, the little Nugget (best burger in town) and then some even further out like Boomtown, Gold Ranch, Bonanza and Bordertown. But the hayday of Reno was gone by 1999. Even new casino owners like the Siena with its marketing to upscale clients couldn't make it with the advent of Indian Casinos in California and the rest of the nation. Reno will never be the casino town it once was and remembering the Palace Club reminds me of what will eventually happen to downtown Reno. There is no future for Reno gambling and casinos. The few that are left will get the old timers and leftovers from California and that's about all.
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JD



Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 952

PostPosted: Jan Tue 29, 2013 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is one great story Mr. Evanoff.

We know and love your photos. But we like your written stories as well.

Please consider dropping by from time to time to spin a yarn of the old days.

How about a story of Virginia City back in the day?
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BC Dave
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Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 1443

PostPosted: Jan Tue 29, 2013 9:49 pm    Post subject: Thanks! Reply with quote

Thanks for joining the board Mr. Evanoff! And thank you for the history columns you contribute to John's site.

I appreciate your recollections of the old Palace Club. Sorry to hear that your run of luck got you barred from the card games there. Take heart - I have a friend who was barred at the last Sienna while he was losing at Black Jack!

I wish I could have seen the Palace Club. I also wish I could have seen the Mapes - especially the Sky Room. (I've seen glimpses of it in the movie"California Split"). Of course I saw the exterior of the Mapes many times and hoped it would reopen but....
Though I hate to admit it, you're predictions for the Reno gambling industry are more than probably going to come true. The sad thing is that many patrons of the casinos now littered across the country don't have any idea of how great Reno was and in many ways still is. You can still get free drinks, cheap great food (better than Vegas) and suites in hotels for roadside motel prices.

If you're reading this and have never been to Reno, you should see it soon - before Mr. Evanoff's predictions come true.

Any idea what happened to that big old sign?
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jevanoff



Joined: 29 Jan 2013
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Jan Wed 30, 2013 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Palace Club sign was taken down in sections (four on each side). Each of the bulbs and all the neon was taken out separately before the sections were brought down. They were taken down by Reno Sign which later became Yessco and put in their yard on West Fourth Street. For a time, they sat in their back lot with a bunch of other old signs. I believe they were further broken down and sold for scrap like the Flamingo Signs which were much more extensive. The Mapes Skyroom was a favorite for both locals and tourists alike. Many famous singers including Sammy Davis, Petula Clark, and a host of others sang there. Some great orchestras also played there and the dance floor was the best in town. Seating near the windows was at a premium and a tip of twenty dollars to the maître d' was the norm for that special spot. They used the Skyroom for a few other things also including the set for five or so movies and special VIP Table Games contests including craps and poker. It was also used for live television and radio broadcasts on occassion.
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BC Dave
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PostPosted: Jan Wed 30, 2013 11:29 am    Post subject: Thank you Reply with quote

Thank you. One more question Mr. Evanoff. Would you care to share any of your personal experiences about the Mapes?

Last edited by BC Dave on Feb Fri 01, 2013 12:00 am; edited 1 time in total
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jevanoff



Joined: 29 Jan 2013
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PostPosted: Jan Wed 30, 2013 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The most notable memory was of Marilyn Monroe sitting at a crap table waiting the Misfit's crew to get back together. I took a picture and she spoke to me for a little bit. She was a nice lady and very pretty close up. Director John Huston was asleep in a chair next to the stage and three other crew members were sleeping on the floor on the east side of the dance floor. Apparently, Huston and a bunch of the crew had been gambling at the craps and blackjack tables as well as drinking most of the night. I remember when he woke up he asked for another Irish Wiskey and lit up a cigar. I was only 13 at the time but was cast as a paper boy which I actually was at that time. Huston picked me off the street to be an extra when he asked for a paper (Journal) one morning at the corner of Virginia and Second Street. They did not use the short piece of film I was supposedly in for the movie although it probably lies around somewhere in the director's cut. Being that young around famous stars was interesting but more enlightening in the realization I would never want to have that kind of life. The crew and stars smelled like they were all drunk for the two days I was there. Marilyn was not drunk but seemed depressed. It was when we spoke about my school and things I used to do like fishing, hiking and hunting which made her light up with that beautiful smile. I remember when I heard she had died, I was very sad.
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BC Dave
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Joined: 18 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Jan Wed 30, 2013 2:10 pm    Post subject: Thanks again! Reply with quote

That's a great story. I've never seen the movie, and I'm sorry you didn't make the final cut. I'm glad you got to meet Marilyn Monroe and you got her to smile. That must be a real nice memory for you. Do you still have the picture? She certainly was a tragic figure.

If you have any interior shots of the old casinos and hotels and would consider posting them to John's site, I think they would be of great interest to some members of our board. There are very few on the internet. I guess that would be because the casinos were pretty intolerant of photography inside their casinos and I imagine many of the pictures that were taken back then are at the bottom of some old dusty chest in someone's attic (perhaps never to be scanned).

I walked by the Mapes many times and thought it was a beautiful building. I sure wish it could have been saved.


Last edited by BC Dave on Feb Sun 03, 2013 11:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Crapsjunkie



Joined: 03 Apr 2010
Posts: 40

PostPosted: Jan Wed 30, 2013 4:36 pm    Post subject: Great History! Reply with quote

Damn great History report about Reno. Now Marlyn Monroe you are talking a big time star. I don't have those kind of stories to tell being a dumb gambling visitor. One afternoon we played Craps with Jay Leno and his blonde friend. He was performing at the new Cabaret in the Center Street Casino. Now that would mean he was not a Big Star at the time. Can't even guess the year. He was a great guy and seems very normal. The Craps Table was right up front by the Air Door and was $1 Minnie Bet. $5 Craps Tables were for the Rich!
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