15 Fremont Street

Las Vegas, NV



The Northern 1912 to 1920's



The Northern Club 

April 1, 1912

to 1943




In 2006 owner Herb Pastor sold Granite Gaming to his son Steve Burnstine,
who owned the property until May 2016 when the Stevens Brothers,
owners of the Golden Gate, The D, and the former Las Vegas Club,
bought  La Bayou and Mermaids Casino as they expanded their interests down Fremont.

Both La Bayou and Mermaids
closed June 27, 2016
In the photo above from 1931 the Northern Club is in the middle of the block on the left. 
At the far end of Fremont Street is the train depot.
Photo from UNLV Digital Collections:            http://digital.library.unlv.edu:81/u?/pho,1865

Image courtesy of the Nevada Casino Ashtray Project.
In the early fall of 1911 Salt Lake Brewing rolled into Las Vegas looking for business opportunities.  They leased the Adam Kramer building on Fremont Street for a new hotel and bar. They planned a second story as a hotel and the first floor would be “one of the most up-to-the-minute bars in the west.”   Lon Groesbeck was named manager and the property was renamed the Northern.
   

On Monday April 1, 1912 the new Northern had its grand opening.

By 1920 and the looming threat of prohibition Groesbeck had fled Las Vegas for Utah after his arrest for illegal liquor. Before leaving he leased the gaming operations to James Germain.


The Salt Lake Brewing company owned the property for five years
and then sold it to the Cullen Investment Company of Salt Lake City.
Then on the 21st of October, 1921 Oscar C. Stocker bought the property.
While the sale was finalized in October of  1921,
it is clear by late in 1920 members of the Stocker family
were “proprietors” of the Northern.   (Captain History)
In 1931 a bill to once again legalize gambling was introduced into the Nevada State Legislature and passed just a month later. A day after the bill passed, March 20, 1931, the Northern Club got the first gaming license. Since illegal games had been running all along, the tables were already in place and ready for business before the ink was dry on the license.

You can see in the copy of their license below that the 3 month license fee was $1,410.00 which is about $22,000 today. You can see why the local and county government were so anxious to approve legalized and taxed gambling!

Mayme Stocker had the first legal gambling establishment in Las Vegas and was also the first woman to hold a gaming license. This can be seen to be quite a milestone for women's rights, or it could be attributed to Mayme's husband and sons being employed by the Union Pacific Railroad. The railroad discouraged their employees from even entering a gambling joint, let alone owning one.

At the time, gambling was restricted in Clark County to the Fremont Street area. That restriction wouldn't last long.

Passage of the Boulder Dam Act by Congress in 1928 meant that thousands of workers would be heading to the small town of Las Vegas. At the time it would be the second largest construction project in our part of the world. Second only to the Panama Canal.  Construction on the dam began in March of 1931, coincidentally the same month gambling was legalized in Las Vegas.

Workers for the dam construction were housed in Boulder City, a city built just for the workers and close to the dam site, but just a short 33 mile drive to Las Vegas.


The Boulder City site was in the middle of a desert. Alcohol and gambling were strictly prohibited. Let's think about that. There are roughly 5000 hardworking construction workers and no access to booze, gambling, or ladies. It's a 33 mile drive to Las Vegas. What do you think happened?


In the midst of the depression, the Las Vegas population swelled from 5,000 citizens to 25,000. Since most of these new citizens were men, the bars and casinos would have thousands of ready clientele with money and a need to celebrate their good fortune in finding work. Las Vegas was literally the only game in town.



Boulder City did not allow sales of alcohol until 1969. Today it is only one of two towns in Nevada where gambling is still not legal.

The dam was dedicated by Pres. Roosevelt on Sept 30, 1935.
A few weeks after the articicle above appeared limiting gambling
to existing establishments for the time being... a lawsuit was filed.
This is a transcription of an article that was in too poor a condition to be readable.

Nevada State Journal
May 28, 1931 

A suit seeking to force the city of Las Vegas to issue a gambling license was heard today in the state Supreme Court.

The  action was filed by Roy Grimes, D J McCauley, and R H Davenport, who seek to conduct a dice game in the Pavilion building at Lorenzi's Resort in Las Vgeas.

The three men declare the city officials of Las Vegas, by refusing them a permit, is guilty of discrimination under the state law.

Their application for the gambling license was filed with the city clerk April 7, (1931) and they assert that their application was in due form and that they possess the necessary qualifications prescribed by the laws of the state of Nevada and by the ordinances of the city for applicants for gaming licenses

The Las Vegas officials, in attempting to regulate gambling, March 30 (1931) passed an emergency ordinance with which became effective April 3. (1931) {Note: Gambling was legalized in Nevada on March 19, 1931}
Two days later and prior to the filing of petitioner's license, the city granted gambling licenses to the Boulder Club, Las Vegas Club, A. T. McCarter of the Exchange Club, and Stocker and Morgan at the Northern Club, and then adopted a resolution that no license would be granted in Las Vegas except of those places of business that had had gambling licenses during the previous quarter and that no further or new licenses would be considered until a zone Was established by them for the operation of gambling houses and the policy adopted by the board governing the issuances of new licenses.

April 17, (1931) the board rejected the application of Grimes, McCauley, and Davenport who thereupon applied to the Supreme Court for relief from what they class “unfair and unjust discrimination”.
The petitioners were represented before the Supreme Court by Charles Lee Horsey, while the action of the board of city commissioners of Las Vegas was upheld by F. A. Stephens, city attorney.

In the article above dated July 8, 1931 the applicants ultimately lost their battle for licensing at the Supreme Court of Nevada.

Negro Club Licensed
Several days later the board adopted a resolution fixing the policy of the board as contrary to the granting of further gambling licenses for the quarter save to those licensed during the previous three months but providing that members of the Ethiopian race might be granted licenses for the conduct of the game or games in a place catering exclusively to persons of the same race.





Northern Club with the Sal Sagev shown down the street
Northern Club with the Sal Sagev shown down the street.

In 1943 the Northern Club site became the Turf Club.
Gaming license #1 issued to the Northern Club on June 20, 1931
Gaming license #1 issued to
Mayme V. Stocker and
J. H. Morgan for the
Northern Club on June 20, 1931
Scroll down this set of photos showing the same small part of Fremont Street covering almost a century.

The "Alley" icon will help to orient your view over the years. The alley stayed the same until it was built over.
The same small part of Fremont Street covering almost a century.
In the photo on the left you can see the
Northern Club to the right and the first location of the Las Vegas Club to the left.

The date of this photo would be
ca. 1943-44 because
the Apache Indian Curio Shop
is shown between the two clubs
and it was only open during that time.


Before the Northern Club was the Northern Club, it was just "The Northern"
The building across the alley on the right is the Hotel Nevada and that alley stayed pretty much the same until 2016.



Below is a better view of the Hotel Nevada with the Northern down the street.



Image courtesy of UNLV Digital Collections http://digital.library.unlv.edu:81/u?/pho,10784
Click to visit Captain History and get this story in much more detail!
Las Vegas Age Image courtesy of UNLV Digital Collections - Click to visit their site
No females allowed??
Here are a couple of the original newspaper articles describing the events and people who helped to open the Northern. 

These are not all the players.
If you're interested in a wider cast of characters click on the Captain History icon.
In 1913 Lon Groesbeck and others petitioned the city commissioners not to set closing times and restrict new liquor licenses in the city to ten, among other items.    

Also on the docket was an amendment, "that no female be allowed in any saloon."
1914:  At a regular meeting of the Board of City Commissioners of the City of Las Vegas, Nevada

Resolved that permission is hereby granted to Lon Groesbeck to conduct a retail liquor establishment at the Northern Hotel on Fremont Street in the City of Las Vegas for the year beginning January 1, 1914, and ending December 31st, 1914, and that the City Clerk is hereby ordered to issue a license to said Lon Groesbeck upon the payment to him of the sum required for said retail liquor establishment license.
The vote upon said resolution was as follows:
Commissioners Griffith, aye, Curtiss, aye, Smith, aye, Sullivan, aye, and his honor the Mayor W. E. Hawkins, aye.


(Note:   Gambling was outlawed in Nevada in 1910 and would not be legalized in Nevada until  March 19, 1931.
However, poker could be played if the house did not take a percentage. It's a little unclear to me what exactly the "gaming" license entailed besides renting tables for cardplay.)


1923:At a regular meeting of the Board of City Commissioners of the City of Las Vegas, Nevada , October 2, 1923

Thereupon the Clerk presented the application of L.W. Stocker for a gaming license (4 games) at the Northern Hotel, the same having been theretofore approved by Police and Fire Commissioner Shield, whereupon it was the order of the Board on motion of Commissioner Shield, seconded by Commissioner Anderson, that said application be granted and that the Clerk is hereby directed to issue a license as set forth above to the said L.W. Stocker.
Voting Commissioners Anderson and Shield and His Honor the Mayor, W.C. German, Aye. Noes, none.



1924:  At a regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners of the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, held on the 2nd day of December, A.D. 1924,

At this time the clerk presented the application of Morgan, Stocker and Horden for a gaming license, (two games) at the Northern Hotel, the same having been heretofore approved by Police and Fire Commissioner Matzdorf, whereupon, it was ordered, upon motion duly made and carried that said license for two games at the Northern Hotel be granted to Morgan Stocker and Horden. Voting on said motion Commissioners Matzdorf, Anderson and Elwell,



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