In 1950, U.S. Sen. Estes Kefauver’s traveling anti-crime roadshow spent less than a day in Las Vegas before heading to larger cities that promised more attention to aid the politician’s mob fighting crusade and national political ambitions.
The Tennessean’s short Las Vegas visit left a lasting mark, though probably not the one he intended.
The hearing in the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse at 300 E. Stewart Ave., and similar events in 12 other cities, are credited with sparking a boom in legalized gambling and organized crime investment in Las Vegas that survived for decades and turned downtown and the Strip into a global attraction.
Now preservation architect Robert Chattel is supervising finishing touches to a restoration project he says is “the ultimate artifact” for the $42 million Mob Museum that uses the old courthouse as a setting for the story of organized crime in America.
“When people say, ‘If these walls could talk,’ these are the walls,” Chattel said during a Wednesday tour of the federal building, which was dedicated in 1933.