Validations of Significance by Placement on Historic Registries
Listings on historic registries confirm that an historic property is significant and worthy of preservation. The designation for an historic property listing is made by a distinguished panel of historians and architects who thoroughly examine the property according to a strict set of criteria. The significance of the Morelli House as a structure worthy of preservation was confirmed by its placement on the City of Las Vegas Historic Property Register (2007), the Nevada State Register of Historic Places (2001), and by its listing on the National Register of Historic Places (2012).
Preparation and application for historic listings are extensive and involve scholarly research with impeccable references. Each of these listings of the Morelli House went through an arduous examination process according to each entity’s various criterions that conferred the honor. For the City of Las Vegas listing the City Historic Preservation Commission made a recommendation to the City Council to approve the listing. For the state listing, the State Historic Preservation Office made a recommendation to the State Historic Preservation Commission for its approval. For the National Listing, the State Historic Preservation Office made a recommendation to the National Park Service’s special panel for its consideration and approval. Though the City of Las Vegas Property Register and the Nevada State Register of Historic Places are very important designations, a listing on the National Register of Historic Places is considered the ultimate designation for a property in the United States.
The National Register of Historic Places identifies the nation’s historic places worthy of preservation and includes districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, this National Park Service program attempts to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources. Nominations for listing privately-owned properties are submitted only through State Historic Preservation Offices. A professional review board in each state considers each property proposed for listing and makes a recommendation on its eligibility.
The nomination process of the Morelli House for the National Register began in 2010. Sally Rycroft, Chairman of the Junior League of Las Vegas Endowment Board of Trustees, and Carole C. Terry, Chairman of the Morelli House Public Program Committee, began the process by researching and preparing a scholarly document about the house. Both have degrees in History from UNLV, Sally a Master of Arts Degree and Carole a Doctorate of Philosophy. The State Preservation Office completed the application, emphasizing the mid-century modern architectural significance of the house and the provenance connected with the original builder and owner of the house, Antonio Morelli, who was the musical director of the Copa Showroom at the Sands Hotel from 1954-1972. When finalized, the application was presented to the Nevada State Board on Museums and History for their final approval of submission. Several obstacles could have prevented the Morelli House’s listing on the National Register, but, fortunately, these were successfully overcome. One of the largest was that the house had been moved from its original location in the former Desert Inn Estates, now the Wynn Resort. However, the application emphasized that the House would have been destroyed if the Junior League had not rescued it and moved it to its current location in the historic district in Downtown Las Vegas.
The Nevada State Commission on Museums and History submitted the final application on April 16, 2012 and the National Register Division of the US Park Service added the Morelli House to its prodigious Registry on June 3, 2012.