15 Fremont Street

Las Vegas, NV

The Northern Club 

1920's to 1943

In 1943 the Northern Club
site became the Turf Club.

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 below from the 1940's you can see the
Northern Club on the right and the Las Vegas club to its left.

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.

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.
The Northern Club was originally known as the Las Vegas Coffee House.

In 1920, owner Mayme Stocker renamed it the Northern Club and began serving liquor along with games of chance. Neither pastime was legal.

Gambling was outlawed in Nevada on October 1, 1910 and this was also the period of prohibition in the USA from 1920 to 1933.

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.

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.

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.
1931 Las Vegas resolution to limit new gambling licenses.
The reference to A T McCarter in the article to the left was for the Exchange Club.
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.

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.

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

Roy Grimes loses his appeal for a gambling license in 1931
Northern Club with the Sal Sagev shown down the street
Northern Club with the Sal Sagev shown down the street
Gaming license #1 issued to the Northern Club on June 20, 1931
Gaming license #1 issued to the Northern Club on June 20, 1931
August 2016 the demolition of La Bayou begins and the location of the first licensed Las Vegas casino will soon be enclosed within the
Golden Gate Casino.
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.

La Bayou




La Bayou was a slots only casino known for it's colorfully dressed ladies handing out beads
and hawking the slot play on Fremont Street.
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This is a non-commercial, educational, hobby site. Images on this site are from our personal collection and from personal collections of fellow enthusiasts who have shared their scans with us.  Other images are noted by source with links to the original.  If you feel that any image used here has infringed upon fair use of an image you hold the copyright to, please contact us at the links above and it will be credited or removed at your request. 

Sources you might want to visit for more information include: 
Newspaper Archive    Newspapers.com   UNLV Digital Collection    UNLV Reno   Las Vegas Sun     mypubliclibrary.com  
TCR numbers are used by express permission of SSS Publishing publishers of The Chip Rack.

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