Mapes Hotel – History In Architecture

When first opening its doors in 1947, the twelve-story Mapes Hotel was the tallest building in Reno. It received widespread media attention and caused a major stir among locals, not only because of its then immense size, but also because the owners, Charles and Gladys Mapes, had declared that they accepted guests from all walks of life. Famously, Charles Mapes stated that everyone was welcome in his hotel, be they dressed in their Sunday best, or just wearing a plain old pair of cowboy boots. This, of course, meant that the average person might rub shoulders with celebrities, assuming they could afford a room, and the hotel was soon bursting at the seams with bookings and reservations.

The Crowning Jewel Of Mapes Hotel

The location of Mapes Hotel was one of the many things that made it stand apart from other accommodation venues. Its property, overlooking the Truckee River, provided an outstanding view, especially for those lucky enough to stay on the luxurious top floor Sky Room. This room stood well above the rest of Reno, and so allowed guests to view the river, Virginia Street, and even the Sierra Nevada mountain range far beyond. It was, at the time, considered one of the most sought after hotel rooms in the area.

On Location Entertainment

At the time the Mapes Hotel opened, few accommodation venues could boast as rich a selection of entertainment. Having an on location casino, bar, night club, restaurant, and theatre, was practically unheard of, making the venue a sensation with celebrities and high society across the world. Guests would check in, stay for weeks, and never leave the premises, living entirely on the services provided by the hotel. It is said that the hotel in fact acted as a prototype for those that followed, giving inspiration to the many similar accommodation venues that are seen today.

Peak Popularity

For three decades the Mapes Hotel stood proud, evolving with the times and serving many celebrities and influential guests. Marilyn Monroe and Clarke Gable famously stayed on the sixth floor in 1961, during the shoot of the film The Misfits, while the Winter Olympics in 1960 saw Mickey Rooney and Sammy Davis Junior perform in the then highly prominent Sky Room theatre. It was not long, however, until the hotel fell on hard times.

Demise And Demolition

In 1978 word got round that the Mapes Hotel was suffering financial difficulty. This came about due to an extravagant expansion of the casino, which did not result in the added revenue anticipated by the hotel. After a few years of struggling, the hotel finally closed its doors for good in 1982. Later the property was purchased again, in 1996, and there were many calls for the venue to kept in its original state and reopened as a hotel. However, the building was entirely demolished in 2000, and removed from the city skyline. It was a skyline that by then featured many taller and more luxurious hotels. By the year 2008 the property came to meet its new destiny as an ice rink, which is enjoyed by many when the seasons allow.