Recently Miss Debbie and I went to Boulder City. That cute little town on your way out to Hoover Dam. Or as they like to say “The town that build Hoover Dam.” Recently they have been in the local news as someone wants to demolish the old Six Companies Hospital and some people in the city want to save it. After all, this was originally built for the workers of Six Companies Incorporated. The company in charge of building the dam. It’s Historic! Some say it’s also haunted by some of the men who died there from injuries they received working on the Dam. So it needs to be saved(?)
It also sits up on a hill, just out of view of the tourist traffic and with a very certain million dollar view. Who could blame the new property owners for wanting to demolish the old and build the new?? There’s a lot of money to be made here.
Six Companies Incorporated was the winning bidder to build what was originally called the Boulder Canyon Project in 1931. Boulder City was built to house the Dam workers and their families. It was a company town and well regulated at that. The Six Companies Hospital was built on the hillside facing the project and only Six Companies employees were allowed to use it, not their families.
Once the Dam was completed and the town was left under government control; Boulder City matured and was incorporated in 1959. The hospital went through several different ownerships and purposes including a home for mental patients and a church. But for most of its life the building was left abandoned on top of the hill.
Some kind people who were scouting the old place offered to give yours truly a peek inside the old place. A little urban exploration! How could I say No?? Ok, maybe I should have, let’s just say I did it for you. I did it for the news value of it and the need to be an informed tour guide. Yea, that’s my story… I did it for the readers of this blog and for future tourists on my Hoover Dam tour. I just couldn’t say no.
The demolition preparation has stopped while the city deals with the issue of preservation or progress. Inside shows signs of everything from vandalism to vagrants living in a few of the older rooms to people wanting to make dinner in the kitchen recently! Obviously we were not the first or the last urban explorers in the hospital. The stories of its haunting are legendary and you could feel the drafts of unknown sources as we made our way around. Several rooms had bunk beds ready for patients to arrive. Most were already gutted or vandalized. Most in the group declined the invite to explore the darker basement. Maybe from watching too many Ghost Hunter episodes!
Preservation or Progress?
I did not see too much of anything historical except for the age of the main structure and its relevance to the history of Boulder City. It’s been abandoned too long and at this point, too many new laws would prevent it to be profitably brought back to life for any meaningful purpose.
And that’s the rub. People NOW want it saved. Similar to those calling for the LVCVA to save the Riviera. Where were all you when the place was being operated? Where were you when they needed help with expenses? Heck, why did you allow your elected representatives to take away incentives for business people to make an honest buck in order to save history?
Now, when your piece of history is on its final death watch do you get emotional and plead for it to be saved. With other people’s money of course.
The whole “lets save the world, hug a tree and arrest a businessman trying to make a living” thing is what’s stopping a lot of progressive renewal. I know… the businessman is always just a greedy millionaire who just wants to make more money and rip off the public. Yea, right. Actually this one is a Boulder City resident who would like to preserve as much of the history as he can, invest in the community where he lives and to give people jobs who will then pay taxes. But he has his hands tied by red tape and crazy EPA regulations.
I am all for preserving history. I love Boulder City and like to spend time and money there. I love the history that it has kept and the people who make it run. Yet at the same time you have to make sure that a person who puts in the time and money to make it happen gets reward for that effort by being allowed to make a reasonable profit without having to jump through a bunch of hoops!
There is a time to organize, save and move forward and there is a time to say “sorry, we missed that train” and move on. Boulder City already has a small Dam museum they can barely keep afloat and now they want the old hospital made into another one? I would love to say “Yea, I’m all for it” but Boulder City has yet to really address the issue of saving itself from the Interstate 11 project.
As I moved from room to room, the one thing that kept going through my head was that if money was not an issue and you could get some red tape cut, (we are the home state to supposedly the most powerful Senator ever to walk the face of the earth, so we should be able to move mountains and government bureaucracy <sarcasim> ) This would be one awesome Inn or bed and breakfast. The people on TripAdvisor and Yelp would eat this up and keep it booked all year long. Especially with that view and the overall location… Killer location for that!
Just down the street, a nice walking path to visit the architectural significant Post-Depression Bureau of Reclamation Office along with the neighboring Six Companies management homes! A simple walk further and a walk past few Dingbat homes and on to main Street for shopping, dining and entertainment (not to mention bowling in an 8 lane bowling alley!) It could be done and be very successful IF money and government regulations were not in the way. If Boulder City had a well organized, modern marketing approach to survival after the Interstate 11 by-pass, this could be one of its top selling points…
The other option and one that seems only feasible is to let it go. The damage has been done and is irreversible. Time, neglect and vandalism has taken its toll. As well as the inability to bring it up to code after all these years. Maybe make an agreement with the owners to use what they can of the original foundation to build something that would respect its place in history. Something that would not detract from the locations significance and be friendly to its surroundings.
Right now everything is on hold pending a review by the City Council and the Historic Boulder City Foundation along with the property owners. We will keep you posted on any changes as we learn of them
Editor’s Update: On November 11, it was announced that the abandoned Six Companies Hosptial would be demolished by the end of the month