Inside “Uncle Jack” LeVine’s delightful vintage Las Vegas home

vintage-las-vegas-5npf-2016I had the best time at the Nevada Preservation Foundation’s Home & History tour on May 8. My speech went really well — and I had such fun doing it — no nerves whatsoever talking in front of 250 people about this topic I love, “Love The House You’re In.” And then, the really fun part: Touring 10 mid mod houses clustered in two mid mod Las Vegas neighborhoods. Over the next several weeks, I’m going to milk this trip for all it’s worth — there’s a lot to cover!!! — by giving you a peek into some of the fabulousness we all saw, with a dash of Las Vegas midcentury modern history thrown in. First up: A look inside the first house I visited, the home of Jack LeVine — a realtor and blogger who was one of the The Very First People that I “met” when I started the blog eight years ago. He has been one of the biggest boosters of midcentury homes in Las Vegas for many years!

pam-and-Jack

Jack LeVine was one of the first midmod-lovers I “met” when I started the blog. It was SO FANTASTIC to meet him in person before my remarks launching the tour. We hugged three times! Jack remains super active in the mid mod community in Las Vegas — in addition to being a realtor, he is on the Board of Directors of the Nevada Preservation Foundation.

A 1954 Desert Modern home:

Here’s what the Nevada Preservation Foundation said about his 1954 house:

Built in 1954, this custom home is a prime example of Desert Modernism, a style that was popularized in Palm Springs during the mid-century. The stacked stone fireplace and window shadow boxes, high ceilings and exposed beams, and shadow block wall surrounding the property are prominent features of Desert Modern architecture. The Mondrian inspired kitchen was created by the current homeowner after the De Stilj movement in painting, a style that was popularized starting in the 1920s.

vintage-las-vegas-6Above: A very happy spot in Jack’s house is the kitchen. The cabinets are original — and to my eye, the doors seem to be made of Weldtex.

Jack gives full credit to his partner, Mark Adams, as the designer, decorator and the creative force who actually gets things done around the house.  For example, he said, Mark did all the painting — including the Mondrian of the workshop and the kitchen cabinets. “(I’m only allowed to do demolition and clean up 🙂 ),” Jack said!

Oh and the kitchen countertops: Yum yum, glitter laminate!

vintage-las-vegas-1-2Any friend of Gumby is a friend of mine!

vintage-las-vegas-19Above: This is a shot of the beamed ceiling in the living room. Weldtex is also used in between the beams. A nice touch — adds texture without taking over.

vintage-las-vegas-7Above: Mark repeated the Mondrian theme in the workroom, painting a wall of cabinet doors in different primary colors and white.

vintage-las-vegas-2In the living room, Jack’s pride and joy was this room divider. Very cleverly: He installed it in the “stackback” area of a valance that once would have hidden traverse rods spanning the patio doors to the back yard. So, the tip/takeaway here: If you have a vintage room divider like this, consider using it as wall art instead of a room divider, assuming you have the right spot to do so. And remember, it’s wise to get the wiring in any vintage lighting checked out by a pro.

vintage-las-vegas-18vintage-las-vegas-17Of course, inside the house there were other cozy nooks … vintage lighting .. vintage furniture and decor … to feast your eyes upon.

vintage-las-vegas-3Lovely living room seating area. Behind the plants at the right: A mirrored wall — a brilliant touch to bring out that corner!

built in planter vintage

Photo courtesy Mark Adams

Oh, another tip/takeaway: These plants are lit from below. Great visual impact!

vintage-las-vegas-9vintage-las-vegas-10As you may be aware, Las Vegas and much of the west has been in a severe drought situation for several years. So there’s lots of ‘xeriscaping’ — landscaping sans lawns and thirsty plants. I literally gasped with delight when I saw that one half of Jack’s backyard was covered with astroturf — and featured its own mini put put golf course! I love it!

vintage-las-vegas-11Heading to the other half of the back yard: A built in barbeque area, of course!

vintage-las-vegas-13vintage-las-vegas-12

34 different designs of breeze blocks!

vintage-las-vegas-14And my favorite favorite favorite part of the whole house: Jack has been collecting breeze blocks — aka decorative concrete blocks — for years. He says that so far, he has 34 distinct designs! And again — brilliantly — has created a display along the concrete block wall that defines his back yard. Some of the blocks come from old Las Vegas hotels that were torn down! I took photos of each of the blocks individually, and some time in the near future will do a story. But cropping them etc will be “some therapy” – ack!

Retro Renovation readers are kinda obsessed with breeze blocks; my stories on them are among the most popular in terms of search etc:

vintage-las-vegas-16vintage-las-vegas-15Of course, enjoying the outdoors is a major benefit of living in a desert climate like Las Vegas. Jack’s outdoor patio is divine. I love the slatted roof!

vintage-las-vegas-1

And out front, dig the carport.

The first time I wrote about Jack:

vv4Above: This is not Jack’s house — this is a listing of his that I wrote about in 2008 — that’s how far back we go!

9 "Moe's in a row", I thinkThe house had “nine Moes in a row”. I will guess this is the first time that I ever saw this Moe honeycomb lighting.

Midcentury housing in Las Vegas — Interest has grown exponentially

I have known Jack for so long — we started blogging around the same time, and he has been a realtor even longer — so I asked him to describe current interest in all things midcentury in Las Vegas today versus 10years ago. He said:

The interest in all things “mid-century” has grown exponentially in the last 10 years. The millennials love it, and the boomers are coming back to our childhoods.  We have dozens of great neighborhoods – full of minimal traditional, ranch, rambler, cinderellas, cottages and more. The true “desert modern” homes are fewer and further between and are highly sought after.

I believe it! I LOVED all the mid mod neighborhoods I saw on the tour, and mind you, I was racing so I couldn’t even really soak it all in. Viva Vintage Las Vegas!

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Comments

  1. Mary Elizabeth says

    Of everything in Jack’s house, I love the kitchen the best! Just wonderfully creative and unique. Good for him, promoting mid-century houses.

    • Mstark08 says

      If you’re on a Mac I think you can batch process the crops pretty easily. I’m approaching some time off in a few weeks and would be happy to help.

      • pam kueber says

        Thanks for the offer! I think Kate will get the assignment at some point — she is on a Mac and yes, wicked fast!

  2. Jamie Longson says

    I just picked up two of those outdoor wire chairs for $8 each – I just need to find some cushions and a table now 😉

    • Karen says

      And I picked up 2 of the outdoor wire rocker chairs with pads for $10 each. Would love on of the aluminum umbrellas like Jack’s! No need to worry about them flipping inside out in a wind (I hope).

  3. Jay says

    Wow, the breeze block display has elevated a mass produced concrete item to a sculptural level; I think it would be interesting to see them lit at night. Also a nice collection of patio furniture. Glad to see that a lot of the MCM housing is still standing in a city known for tearing down and rebuilding.

    • says

      Jack and Mark just hosted our local Flamingo Club – a monthly traveling cocktail party in the Vintage Vegas ‘hoods – on Saturday night. They had each block lit from behind. Very very nice effect.

  4. Melinda says

    So much to love here! Mondrian kitchen, built in planter and breeze block – I can scarcely contain myself.

  5. Debbie in Portland says

    The workroom and the kitchen make me start humming the theme from “The Partridge Family”. 🙂 What a happy house!

  6. tammyCA says

    Oh, my that light room divider is divine..yes, an art piece. Also, adore those pretty “9 Moes in a row” from the listing. Glad to see mcm is alive & revived in Vegas..it will always be in my mind the kind I see in the swanky, cool decor & architecture of the ’60s movies, “viva Las Vegas”, “ocean’s eleven”, etc.

  7. Heather Hope says

    “…Jack and Mark just hosted our local Flamingo Club – a monthly traveling cocktail party in the Vintage Vegas ‘hoods – on Saturday night.”

    Thank you, Heidi Swank, for one of the best things I’ve read today! Along with the whole post, that is 🙂

  8. Carolyn says

    Obviously not enough room here to comment on everything I’d like to but will call out the hanging lamp room divider – highly doubt I’d ever find one but could adapt by having several telescoping lamps in a row – ? Breeze blocks – never hear that term, only decorative concrete – who knew?!
    Any-hoosis – could it be the surge of interest in the last 10 yrs can be attributed to post-WWII homeowners having to give up housekeeping and now this treasure trove is coming available? And it’s still available because it was made to last, Mom kept things nice, we were taught to respect our belongings (or suffer the consequences), and kids were outside most of the time? And they didn’t just throw things out until it was absolutely, positively unsalvage-able (in other words, they never threw anything out!)? Just my theory.
    Can’t wait to see what the coming weeks will bring! In the meantime, I will click on the links!

    • Violet says

      Interesting, isn’t it? I think America has seen the last of these. It’s extremely unlikely that any “time capsules” houses of the current era of home design and decor will still be standing 50 years from now.

      The virtues that kept homes intact with their decor for decades; thrift, stable jobs, intact families and marriages and so forth are gone from the general populace.

      Much of our merchandise is tawdry throw-aways from China; none of it will last except as NOS tucked away in drawer or garage.

      Everyday 21st century design is largely derivative and won’t be preserved outside of a few digital images (even paper magazines have become few and far between).

      I guess the point is to enjoy it while we can; your kids and grandkids won’t be able to.

      • Retroski says

        A sad perspective! I think the handmade and better made things will last, and there’s usually a group of “lovers of the old” in every generation. It probably won’t be the same for our kids and kids’ kids’ but there are definitely those among the Gen Xrs and Millienials who value the “Greatest Generation” values of thrift and strong families, hard work, etc, so I don’t think it’ll totally go away. Living simply and homesteading are gaining tread so thankfully not everybody buys into the “tawdry made in China” mentality.

      • Carolyn says

        Violet, to address what Retroski mentioned, not only living simply and homesteading but handcrafts will make a comeback. I think it’s a cyclical swing of handmade to machine-made to materialistic dump and move back to handmade via sites like Etsy and Pinterest. You only need to look to this site to see young people embracing quality and putting their own spin on it.
        To that I say “Yea & Yippy!”

  9. Holland VanDieren says

    Why be a boring minimalist hipster when you can be Jack!?!

    This is the Mod House of Happiness.

  10. Carla says

    Thank you SOOOOO much for covering this tour – had so wanted to go this year but could not get there. So sorry to have missed your talk and all the home tours! Looking forward to any bits you can share. Thanks again.

  11. Nikki says

    Kudos to Jack and Mark for creating a lovely home! I really enjoyed this tour! There is so much to love – and nothing to not love – about this home.

    Thanks Pam!

  12. Carol says

    I’m so in love with the “art wall”. It’s not just a fence, it’s a focal point for the backyard. The backyard is so inviting I’m swooning. I’m just green with envy, in a good way of course. What a gem.

  13. Joe Felice says

    That room divider/light fixture steals the show! I remember the Moe honeycomb lights well, but never knew what they were called. Whence does the name come?

    Integral planters, sometimes in the floor, were all the rage back then. Seems like they always contained philodendron, for some reason or other.

    That fake grass is too funny. We often have drought periods here in Colorado, also, and people started putting in fake grass. The city planners thought it wasn’t up to par, and many cities have actually outlawed it in private lawns. I guess in the back yard, no one would ever know, right? Here in Aurora, the city is actually “testing” some varieties of fake grass in medians to see how they hold up over time. I suspect, eventually, some of them will be approved for lawns. One of the condominiums I managed had a fake grass doggie area on the garage roof top, where owners were supposed to take their dogs. Some dogs wouldn’t use it. I can’t imagine that a dog would like to do its business on a plastic rug, but they tell me there is a scent that can be sprayed on it to make the dogs want to “go” there. The Denver area is a semi-arid desert, with only-15 inches of moisture per year. I never could understand why anyone would introduce Kentucky bluegrass for lawns here, but they did. Now were stuck with them, and people in Denver seem to take great pride in their lawns, so wasting water is required. All cities have watering restrictions, but, hey, who drives around at night looking for violators? Again, cities are getting involved, and limiting the amount of area that can be bluegrass. Most cities actually require a permit in order to put in a lawn. I suppose back in 1900, water wasn’t a concern. They’re testing many types of hybrid grasses that don’t require much water. One has roots that go down 18 inches, while another comes from (I hate to say it) Texas. The interesting thing is, when I travel, I think “These grasses would be considered weeds in Denver, and we would spray them!” I mean Bermuda grass? REALLY? LOL

    • Carolyn says

      Regarding the “pee Pad” – the dogs are probably confused – don’t “go” in the house but up here it’s fine, resulting in mixed messages. They may be dumb dogs but they ain’t stupid!

  14. John J. Delibos says

    Our last Flamingo Club Party was hosted at Jack & Mark’s…they always like to do it in May. What a great evening it was! The home takes you back, for an evening, to the the informal neighborhood soirees of the fifties when friends and neighbors gathered to celebrate the beginning of summer. Oh my childhood!

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