She used to be the grand old dame of Carson City. The Ormsby House was not only the biggest hotel and most opulent casino in Carson City, but also the tallest building in town. The neon on her roof shone like a beacon, drawing travellers towards downtown. Plus, notice the emblem in the portecochere above. She was using the Guns N’ Roses motif before Axl Rose was cool.
But the 90’s came and hit her hard, and she went through a rough patch — bankruptices, foreclosures, shuttered doors for two years, and a handful of different owners. In those dark years she was still limping along, but just barely, and she was definitely a shadow of her former self.
In the year 2000 she was bought by a local computer company, and she finally had a parent who had some money and was willing to fix her up. Their solution? Shut her down, gut the building, and renovate it from the inside out. “Grand Re-opening July 4th, 2001,” they proclaimed!
Now, here we are, several years later. Is it open yet? No. In fact, they’ve just now started on the exterior renovation. All the usual excuses have been given: construction snags, inadequate original blueprints, unforeseen problems, etc. The owners have even gone so far as to say it would have been cheaper and easier to tear the whole thing down and start new. In fact, at one point they threatened to do just that. But no, through it all they’ve stuck to the promise of renovation.
In November 2002 work started in earnest. They’re building a mini-casino, the Winchester Club, on the lower level of the parking garage. It’s supposed to keep people occupied while the main renovation goes on. They’re planning for a new sky bridge, valet parking, luxurious hotel suites, and the title of “Best Buffet in Town”. They promised a Five Star experience. The opening date was pushed back to July 4th, 2003, and then beyond. And so the cycle continues.
This derelict phoenix at the heart of town will eventually rise again, and I’ll be there to document it. These pages are a chronicle of the exterior renovation. Nothing fancy, just me and my spiffy new digital camera walking around and taking pictures. No interior pictures, since that would require a hard hat and the owner’s permission, and I have neither. No insider information, either, since I’m just a local goof with no connections. All I know is what’s in the newspaper, and what I can see with my eyes. I’ll write about the former, and post pictures of the latter. Half-assed reporting at its best.
Now, on to the pictures! Pick a page from the list below, or click on the marquee to jump in at the beginning! Check back often for updates.