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Colorful hotel history
Monday, April 4, 1955 | 6 a.m.
The history of the Last Frontier Hotel is a rich and colorful one and certainly worth pausing to consider, as we witness the changing of its name to the New Frontier and to be known as 'Out of This World.'
Certainly no hotel on the fabulous Las Vegas Strip has been a greater part of nor contributed more to the fantastic growth of this desert city than the Hotel Last Frontier. Its story reads like fiction, with all the suspense and denouement of a best seller. . .
Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, R. E. Griffith, Texas and Oklahoma theatre magnate, laid plans to build a luxurious western type hotel at Deming, New Mexico. He consulted his nephew, William J. Moore, current owner of the El Cortez and the Showboat hotels, who had attained remarkable success as an architect in the field of theatre design. Together they worked out a program for the project.
After Moore had completed his drawings and won the whole-hearted approval of his uncle, the two men left for the west coast to buy equipment. Enroute home they stopped over Las Vegas to rest, took one look around, realized the unlimited possibilities for a resort hotel here and canceled their plans for the hotel in New Mexico–and the first really big gamble on Las Vegas and southern Nevada was made.
Less than a year after the Hotel Last Frontier opened it doors on October 29, 1952, Griffith died from a heart attack and Bill Moore was named executive-vice-president and managing director of the hotel, and it was he who later fulfilled Griffith's dream for a Last Frontier Village.
Somewhere out there in cosmic space, the beloved Griffith must be smiling, for the New Frontier will retain the Village and the same name–The Last Frontier Village, the Old West relived, and one of the greatest tourist attractions in the West. The Silver Slipper Saloon located in the village has headlined some of the biggest names in show business–Nellie Lutcher, Sally Rand, Bela Lugosi, Fifi D'Orsay, Billy Gilbert, Buster Keaton, Buddy Bear, Slapsy Maxie Rosenbloom, Rusty Draper, and many many others. It, too, will remain and continue to book headliners, as well as no doubt remain the gathering place of show greats after their own performance on the Strip.
It is difficult to believe that the ground on which the multi-million dollar New Frontier stands was once a dusty, dry wagon trail, the same trail that an expedition organized in 1828 by Jose Antonio Chavez, governor of New Mexico, traversed from Santa Fe northward into southern Utah and then turned southeast across southern Nevada.
It is only fitting that the Last Frontier Village remain located on the site of this, one of the earlier roads across the great southwest known as the "Old Spanish Trial," and that along side it, rising in all its glory, the New Frontier Hotel be a living testimony and monument to human progress.
In glimpsing the relics of yesteryear at the Village, tourists will have the opportunity to reflect upon the "old days" with warm appreciation, and likewise upon the new, observing with awe that man could have progressed to such great heights of creative genius in so short a time.
Happy ending to Frontier strike restores jobs, brings praise from labor leaders
As long as it takes . . ." "Just one day longer . . . " The chants are often used on picket lines. But the strikers who have held out for six years at the Frontier Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas have put life back into those words and helped re-energize the entire labor movement. Finally, with the purchase of the Frontier by Phil Ruffin, a businessman from Kansas City, Kans., their strike is reaching a happy conclusion. Ruffin, on Oct. 24, bought the Frontier from previous owner Margaret Elardi for $167 million and has signed contracts with the striking unions comparable to union contracts elsewhere on the commercial strip. And he has agreed to rehire every striker who wishes to return. In September 1991, 550 workers went on strike - Culinary Workers Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165, both part of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees, as well as Teamsters Local 995 and Operating Engineers Local 165.
During its 1993 convention, nearly 2,000 CWA members trekked to the Frontier in more than 100-degree heat to support them.
"They are some of the bravest, most steadfast people in the labor movement," said CWA President Morton Bahr. "We and thousands of others have marched beside them and sang songs of solidarity, then gone home. They stayed and fought for all of us and inspired us. We congratulate them and we thank them."
The picket line will come down as soon as the Las Vegas Gambling Commission approves Ruffin's license and allows him to take over, possibly as soon as Jan.1.
"Ruffin approached us in an extremely no-nonsense fashion and said he felt Frontier could be extremely successful if it had a clean slate," said HERE local Secretary-Treasurer Jim Arnold. "We welcome him with open arms. I think he's going to make a welcome addition to the Las Vegas strip."
Ruffin has agreed to pay starting wages of $7.50 per hour for food servers, $9.50 per hour for hotel maids and $12 an hour for cooks.
Union workers, as a group, will receive $3.5 million in back pay as ordered by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding a National Labor Relations Board ruling that the Elardis' lawbreaking converted the strike into an unfair labor practices strike. Arnold said they would also receive six years' pension credit and that settlements were being worked out for workers' individual NLRB charges.
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