LAS VEGAS, N.M. (KRQE) – A Las Vegas man has restored a historic New Mexican building that dates back to the 1800s. A long project, slowed down by the pandemic, is almost finished.

Back in the day, before the Railroad District was boarded up, the Rawlins building was an important part of a vibrant downtown area. Now, Thomas Clayton wants to bring the vibrancy back by fixing up the building.

“As a little boy, I remember playing in that building,” said Rawlins Building Co-Owner Thomas Clayton.

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Thomas Clayton has ties to the Rawlins Building located in the once thriving Railroad District of Las Vegas, New Mexico. Clayton and his wife started buying the building in 2015 hoping to make downtown thrive again.

“I grew up on that neighborhood. I grew up on Railroad Avenue. I remember as a child there was so many things going on, and we wanted to give back,” said Clayton.

The Rawlins House was built in 1898 by William W. Rawlins. It was a booming place for the Harvey Girls who worked across the street at the Castaneda Hotel.

Clayton’s grandparents bought it back in 1949 and ran it until the 1970s. However, its just been sitting there for the past 50 years.

“We wanted to give back. We wanted to save the building. It was close to demolition by neglect,” said Clayton.

Clayton teamed up with a local contractor to work on the project. He said it’s taken more than 6 years to fix up.

“We had to actually start from the top down. We actually had to start with the roof. Which was rather interesting. Usually when you’re doing construction you start from the foundation and go up. This particular case we started from the roof down,” said Clayton.

From fixing the exterior wall, to putting in new iron work and high beams; the fixer-upper is almost done.

“We kept the floor plan as the same to honor the historical nature of the building,” said Clayton.

There will be three 1-bedroom apartments and two 2-bedroom apartments. The 2-bedroom apartments will cost $1,200 a month. Three of the rooms will be Airbnb’s. The rooms will be named after some of the Harvey Girls.

“It’s a way to honor the young ladies honor their families and keep it tied to the history,” said Clayton.

They are having an open house Saturday, September 10 from noon until 5 p.m. Clayton said one of the 2-bedroom apartments is already leased to someone.

Las Vegas recently received a grant to fix their Railroad District to spruce up the area. Though the Rawlins Building is considered a historical site, it was completely self funded and costed almost $1 million.