What's There Now:
Downtown Las Vegas
200 Fremont St.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Still In Operation
Hotel opens on May 18
Wayne Newton has one of his first performances as a professional singer in the hotel's lounge
14-story room tower is added
Hotel is purchased by the Parvin-Dohrmann Corporation for $16 million
Hotel is purchased by Allen Glick and the Argent Corporation
Glick is forced to sell the hotel to Sam Boyd
By the time the Fremont opened on May 18, 1956, Downtown Las Vegas was struggling to retain its relevance in the face of the onslaught of major resorts on The Strip. Ten of them were already up and running on Las Vegas Boulevard including The Dunes, Riviera, The Sands, Flamingo, and more, providing resort level amenities that Downtown's fairly basic casinos couldn't compete with.
Ed Levinson and Lou Lurie sought to change that. The Chicago "investor" and San Francisco "financier" (feel free to read "organized crime front men" in place of those titles) wanted to bring the Strip to Fremont Street with the biggest, fanciest, and most upscale hotel-casino Downtown Las Vegas had ever seen.
Built at a cost of $6 million, the Fremont was the tallest building in Nevada at the time. Standing at 15 stories it featured 155 rooms and a modern design architected by Wayne McAllister, the man behind resorts on The Strip including El Rancho, Flamingo, and The Desert Inn. Its luxurious casino, gourmet caliber restaurants, and "high rise" digs were a far cry from the usual Downtown offerings.
In 1959 a young Wayne Newton played the lounge with his brother Jerry, a gig that Newton considers to be the beginning of his long career as Mr. Las Vegas.
The hotel expanded several times over the next few years including a 1959 expansion that added 60 rooms and a 1963 expansion that added a 14-story tower with the first rooftop pool in the state.
In 1966, the hotel was sold to Parvin-Dohrmann Corporation for $16 million. They also co-owned the Aladdin on The Strip.
In 1974 the hotel was purchased by The Argent Corporation, headed by San Diego business man Allen Glick. Glick and his company also bought The Hacienda and Stardust on The Strip at the same time - although "bought" is perhaps an overstatement. The money came from a loan provided by the Teamsters' Union Pension Fund and Glick later said he was forced to buy the casinos to put a "legitimate" face on what was really a mob run enterprise. The mafia was allegedly skimming millions of dollars off of the casino take until federal prosecutors moved in and shut things down.
Glick's story was later used as the basis for the movie "Casino" starring Robert De Niro.
Under Argent's ownership, the hotel was remodeled in in 1976 and 1977, expanding the casino and renovating the exterior with new neon signage that stretched the entire block along Fremont Street.
Although it has received cosmetic updates since then, the hotel has remained pretty much the same and is still owned by Boyd Gaming.