Las Vegas’ Historical Harrison House Goes Green

Historic Harrison Boarding House of West Las Vegas, NV

Hey, are you doing anything this evening?  You are invited to the August Green Drinks event at the Harrison House! Mingle with many of Las Vegas’ green leaders, movers and shakers at this historic West Side property that is being rehabilitated into a green demonstration resource for the community. Food and beverages will be on hand and local band “Do Little Too Late” will playing the tunes. It’s a chance to learn about and even become a part of the history of West Las Vegas.

It all takes place tonight from 6 – 7:30 PM at the Harrison House, 1001 F. St., Las Vegas, NV  89106.

History of the Harrison Boarding House

Harrison House was constructed as a private residence by Geneva Harrison in 1942. She provided temporary housing for African-American musicians, entertainers and other prominent black Americans during the segregationist period of the 1940s and fifties. Thus Harrison House has a direct relevance to persons and activities connected to the civil rights movement in Las Vegas.

It is difficult to imagine but at that time, persons of color were not permitted to mingle with other guests nor could they gamble, dine or stay in the very hotels where they performed. Harrison House is currently listed as one of the attractions along the City of Las Vegas’ Pioneer Trail and the process for historic designation listing at state and federal levels will soon follow.

Many of the era’s most famous stars stayed there. During one week in September 1949, Mrs. Harrison hosted Sammy Davis, Jr., Jack Benny’s side-kick Eddie (Rochester) Anderson, singer Bob Parrish, nightclub entertainers and Flamingo headliners The Edwards Sisters, the Jubilaires, and musician/singer Arthur Lee Simpkins.

The original 1942 structure remains intact despite being vandalized in 2009. Harrison House is now undergoing a transformation, melding its rich black history with modern green innovation. The renovation is being directed by Rick Van Diepen, executive director of Green Chips, with a goal to become a state-of-the-art, net-zero energy, LEED-certified model demonstration home as well as a cultural and community resource center.

Las Vegas Community Effort

Among those who have pledged their time, energy, expertise, financial and/or product support are: Decolights, Helix Electric, Bishop Air Service, International Air & Space Education Foundation, Ward 5 Chamber of Commerce, Home Depot Foundation, City of Las Vegas, J&G Enterprise, Key Foundation, Westmark Group  Environmental, Koolsola, Red Horse Squadron, Green Chips, PGAL Architects and a host of community volunteers.

The driving forces behind the Harrison House project have been Katherine Duncan and Stanton Wilkerson, both of the Ward 5 Chamber of Commerce. They share a vision for the community that includes lower energy bills, new job opportunities and an overall goal of sustainability in the context of the green economy. Duncan, president of the Ward 5 Chamber, talks about Van Jones and the idea of a green-collar economy, saying “Going green has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for us.”

Wilkerson, who also serves as president of Harrison House Inc. explains, “This can be done on a small scale and duplicated throughout Southern Nevada on a larger scale. It’s important for our neighborhood that we have places where people can come and sit down to talk.”

Green Drinks Las Vegas is a social and business networking platform for people interested in greening Las Vegas.  Their motto is “Participate, Educate and Connect.” I can think of no better time or place to do that than at tonight’s gathering. This month’s Green Drinks event will be an exceptional way to learn about and help support this great project. What we do today creates the history of tomorrow, so let’s make some green history! I hope to see you at the historic Harrison House.

Event Update

I attended the Green Drinks event at Harrison House and by all measures I could see, it was a tremendous success! There was a strong turnout, the band was fantastic and there was plenty of food and drink. Rick Van Diepen talked about the green renovations that have been planned and Katherine Duncan provided tours of the property. She even had everyone giving hugs to each other! Thanks to all for a wonderful experience.

This is a project that deserves our support. You can donate directly via the Harrison House Facebook page.