LAS VEGAS, N.M. (KRQE) – A historic New Mexico building is getting a much-needed facelift. The effort to restore the Rawlins Building in Las Vegas is led by someone who grew up in the building while it was in its prime.
“In the ’60s and ’70s this was a vibrant neighborhood,” says Rawlins Building owner Thomas Clayton.
Now many of the buildings in the historic Las Vegas downtown have been boarded up. “We used to have those booths where you could sit down and have a soda or an ice cream shake or something like that, and we don’t have that anymore,” says resident Jeanie McKinley.
But the new owner of the 122-year-old Rawlins Building hopes to change that. “We’re hoping to attract people who love the history of New Mexico, love history of the railroad,” Clayton says.
The building was built back in 1898 by William W. Rawlins. When he died, his wife Josephine rented out the building’s 14 rooms to a famous hotel mogul.
“She ends up entering into a contract with the Fred Harvey hotels and she ends up housing the Harvey girls in this beautiful space,” Clayton says.
Clayton says he grew up here. “This space was an area I spent as a boy when my grandmother had the place. My aunt and uncle lived in the front two rooms,” Clayton says.
He’s been working for about five years to restore the building. “The building floor has sagged so we had to literally remove the flooring section by section and replace it section by section,” Clayton says.
He says instead of 14 upstairs rooms, there will be five luxury apartments and downstairs there will be space for businesses to move in. “It gives us a good opportunity to start growing again and to show off our community,” McKinley says.
Clayton says it won’t be long before downtown is thriving again.”It really feels good to see that this neighborhood, which has a lot of good people…it’s coming back,” Clayton says.
Clayton says in the ’60s it cost about $7.50 a week to rent one of the rooms. Once the restoration is finished this spring, the apartments will cost around $800 to $900 a month.