The Honeymoon Suite

When my grandfather and my grandmother got married they spent their honeymoon in Reno, Nevada in a really neat hotel and casino called The Mapes.

The Mapes Hotel was a hotel/casino located in Reno, Nevada, next to the Truckee River on Virginia Street. It was built in 1947, and opened on December 17 of that year. It was the first skyscraper built in the Western United States since the start of World War II. Built in a distinctive Art Deco style, the hotel was a unique high-rise built to combine a hotel and casino, providing the prototype for modern hotel/casinos. Up until the 70’s there were only two casino-hotels serving gamblers in downtown Reno: The Riverside Hotel-Casino, and The Mapes Hotel Casino.

Owned by the Mapes family, the hotel quickly became, for most of the 1950s and 1960s, the premier hotel in Reno. Many celebrities of that era stayed there, including Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable during the filming of The Misfits; Senator Joseph McCarthy, who over a drink in the Lamplighter bar at the bottom floor of the hotel, admitted to a reporter that he did not have a list of communists in America; President Harry Truman and many others. The Sky Room at the top of the Mapes was a famous nightclub and stage where many of the biggest singers and entertainers of the time such as Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Durante and Milton Berle performed; at one point, Sammy Davis, Jr. performed there but was prohibited from staying in the hotel due to segregation. During location shooting for the television series, Bonanza. Many guest stars would reside at the Mapes. When the Mapes was built, it was by far the most exciting event in Reno’s history as we know it today. The Mapes ushered in the post-war boom in entertainment and high-rolling fun that was to become the hallmark of Reno.


A unique feature of the Mapes, unrivaled until decades later by the restaurant at the top of the Flamingo, was the Sky Room. The Sky Room was a beautifully appointed top-floor dining, dancing, drinking, and gambling room surrounded by large windows providing a gorgeous view of the Washoe Valley.

In 1959, Jack Carson appeared on Bonanza, while doing shows in the Sky Room. It was memorably showcased in a 1961 episode of Route 66, guest starring Walter Matthau. During the 1970’s Joe Conforte paid a percentage to Mapes Hotel bell men as they directed clients to his Mustang Ranch.

The Mapes thrived throughout the 1960s and 1970s but began to face problems competing with more modern casino/hotels in Reno in the 1980s. The Casino closed on December 17, 1982 because of financial difficulties the Mapes family faced after the recession of 1981, and the failure of their other casino in Reno, the Money Tree. The building was allowed to decay as many different owners took possession of the building with plans to revive the casino/hotel, all of which failed. Finally, the Reno Redevelopment Agency took possession of the building in 1996. Despite being listed on the National Register of Historic Places and in the face of much local protest, the city of Reno condemned the building and demolished it on January 30, 2000.

Nothing was done with the lot until the winter of 2001, when an ice rink was put in at the site. The ice rink was set up at the site each winter until 2004, when a park was temporarily put on the lot. Currently, the former Mapes site has been made into a permanent outdoor skating rink.

When I used to go with my family to Reno NV, I used to always love to go by the Mapes (at that time it was closed already) and I love the architecture.  I also loved another casino called Harold’s Club. I will post another entry with info and photos of that one later. Forever The Mapes will live in my family history. Anyone have any favorite casinos? Comment your answers..

Thanks for reading,

Skrach

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for a great article on the Mapes! I miss it too. My parents used to drag me along on their excursions to see shows and have dinner.

  2. I used to love to see the mapes when I went to Reno in the mid 90’s…such a shame…shame on Reno 😦

  3. I was married on July 2,1960 in Reno.Had our small celebration
    in the Mapes Hotel.
    My Brother in law is a Mapes,he ran the Mapes ranch in Susanvillem,Ca.They are a great bunch of people!!

    Marty Garo
    Gilbert,Az

  4. I was married in Reno in 1999 and was fascinated by Mapes, I always remembered it an subsequently have researched it online, what were they thinking not reviving it?


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