Historic Westside House listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Historic Westside House listed in the National Register of Historic Places

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Built in 1938 by Leroy and Carrie Christensen, prominent former members of Las Vegas’ Westside enclave, the Christensen House stands as an enduring testament to the neighborhood’s heritage. Today, the house is one of the earliest and most visually striking examples of middle-class residential construction remaining in the neighborhood.

In recognition of its historical significance and community value, the National Park Service (NPS) recently listed the house in the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register recognizes places that are of historic and cultural significance and unlocks opportunities for grant funding and tax incentives aimed at preserving and protecting these special sites.

The Christensen House, characterized by its unique French Eclectic architectural style, boasts notable features such as a stone tower crowned with a conical roof, a substantial stone chimney, and rusticated concrete block walls. Serving as one of the first permanent residences in the neighborhood, the house embodies the way in which the newly emerging and economically empowered African American middle class worked to develop their own version of suburban homeownership amidst an era marked by widespread discrimination and residential segregation in other parts of the city. The Christensen’s stylish residence frequently hosted neighborhood events and functioned as a social hub for middle-class African Americans in the Westside.

Today, the house is cared for by its current owner, Las Vegas Catholic Worker, whose mission centers around social justice and assisting the poor. Julia Occhiogrosso, founder of the organization, says, “Adding the Christensen House to the National Register of Historic Places honors the legacy of Elder Leroy and Carrie Christensen, preserving the unique and beautiful home that they constructed, as well as their inspirational story of ingenuity, fortitude, and resilience.”

The National Register nomination for the house is the result of an Underrepresented Communities grant from NPS, which funded an intensive-level architectural survey of the Westside. The survey documented buildings built between 1930 and 1970 that are associated with the African American community. The survey identified the Christensen House as a significant building worthy of listing in the National Register. Bob Stoldal, Chairman of the City of Las Vegas Historic Preservation Commission notes, “The national acknowledgment of the history and beauty of the Christensen House is a well-deserved honor and a salute to its current owners, whose work and passion are preserving this vital piece of the history of the community of Las Vegas.”

In Spring 2021, the National Trust for Historic Preservation featured the Christensen House on the cover of its magazine, Preservation, and included it in an article about other buildings associated with African American history in the neighborhood. The Historic Westside contains other resources listed in the National Register, including the Las Vegas Grammar School (“Westside School”), Harrison’s Guest House, and the Berkeley Square Historic District.

For more information about this listing or the National Register program, please contact the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office at (775) 684-3448 or shpo-info@shpo.nv.gov.