The Moulin Rouge opened it's doors on May 24, 1955. It was the first desegregated/integrated casino in Las Vegas. It was built in West Las Vegas, where the African-American population was forced to live due to segregation. The property itself included two buildings consisting of a hotel, casino, bar, and theater. The cursive neon sign was designed by Betty Willis, the same woman who designed the Welcome to Las Vegas Sign.
The Moulin Rouge's popularity was instant, attracting performers such as Pearl Bailey, Sammy Davis Junior, Nat King Cole, and Louis Armstrong. Even Frank Sinatra and George Burns would drop in after their shows on the Strip to perform and fraternize. Life Magazine even featured two of the Moulin Rouge's showgirls on it's June 1955 cover.
The Moulin Rouge's operating life was surprisingly short for all of the action it saw. The casino closed in November of 1955, being open a mere six months. The property filed bankruptcy in December and that was the end of the Moulin Rouge. The property has sat for decades as the neighborhood deteriorated around it. In 1985, in an attempt to revitalize the property, the owners added awnings to the facade and a shingled cap on the tower. They also covered the mosiac columns with stucco facades. The motel was used as low-income apartment housing.
Over the decades several committees had planned to refurbish and reopen the Moulin Rouge, but sadly all of those plans were lost when an arson fire broke out on May 29, 2003 and destroyed it. The entire property was gutted, save for the front facade, tower, and rear motel rooms. Today it sits abandoned and awaiting demolition and redevelopment.
The Moulin Rouge today:
4-29-09 The Betty Willis sign came down today in preparation for final demolition of what's left. It has been placed in the bone yard for safe keeping.
5-6-09 Another fire has devestated the Moulin Rouge, leaving nothing of the original structure standing. The 1970's additions were not touched. The 4 alarm fire claimed the last motel wing which still had many fixtures and fittings in place including small murals, carvings, and etched glass. The building burned out and what was left was demolished at once. R.I.P. Moulin Rouge.