Built in 1959 and originally located at the posh Desert Inn Country Club Estates where the Wynn Hotel & Casino’s golf course is now located, the historic Morelli House was saved as part of an unprecedented preservation project led by the Junior League of Las Vegas, and relocated to its current downtown location at 861 East Bridger Avenue, in 2001.
This classic Mid Century Modern residential dwelling is notable for being the home of the Sands Hotel & Casino Copa Showroom’s musical director Antonio Morelli and his wife Helen, during the rat pack era, so naturally it wouldn’t be uncommon for performers like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. or other celebrities of the day to end up at the Morelli’s for after-hours partying.
Architecturally, the home is an exceptional example of the modernist period and was designed by noted architect Hugh E. Taylor, based on ideas from Antonio Morelli himself. Rectilinear in shape, the 3,300 sq. ft. house makes great use of its horizontal lines, natural materials and, this being the desert, melding the indoors and outdoors with clerestory windows and giant sliding walls of glass.
Decorative “festival”-style concrete breeze blocks front its façade while exposed redwood beams support its flat overhanging roof which is covered in crushed white stone. Inside, the home’s open floor plan expands to highlight period décor, wood paneled walls, and a floating fireplace with copper hood; all very retro by today’s standards, but cutting edge, and even futuristic, at the time.
The Morelli House is listed on the City and State Registers of Historic Places and was added to the National Register in 2012. Docent-guided tours of this historic home are offered with advance bookings periodically throughout the year by the Junior League of Las Vegas.
Ken MacIntyre is the creator and curator of Modtraveler.net, an Enthusiast’s Guide to Modernism. For more photos and stories of modernist destinations visit his website or follow Ken on Instagram @modtraveler.