New Frontier was a hotel and casino that operated in Las Vegas from October 30, 1942 until it closed on July 16, 2007. The iconic building was demolished in November, 2007 after lying abandoned for several months. After that, various plans were floated, but none were realized. Wynn Resorts purchased the site in 2017 but no further plans were announced at the time.
In 1931 gambling was legalized in the state of Nevada in an attempt to lure people to the State but Las Vegas still remained a dusty saloon town full of small-time gambling operations. The property started as a nightclub called Pair-O-Dice that opened in 1930, then The Ambassador Night Club in 1936 and was renamed the 91 Club in 1939 for its location on US-91. It was subsequently rebuilt and renamed the Hotel Last Frontier in 1942. On April 4, 1955, it was renamed the New Frontier, following a modernization of the resort.
In 1941 the 5 acre property, including the “91 Club”, was purchased by R.E. Griffith and in 1942 the Hotel Last Frontier opened. Competing with the El Rancho, the first resort on highway 91, it featured a large complex of different connected buildings and sprawling courtyards. Besides the 91 Club, the resort featured a roadside pool, 105 room hotel, small casino and bar, and a small show venue. It was the second resort to open on what would become The Las Vegas Strip.
In 1955, the New Frontier building was constructed on the north end of the property and on April 4th 1955 the newly renamed Hotel New Frontier opened its doors after a major refurbishment. Located opposite where the Encore now stands, it had originally opened as the Last Frontier on Highway 91 a year, where once the Pair O’Dice had sat.
The resort was the first themed casino in Vegas, sporting a western face. And talk about service, a stagecoach would pick guests up at the airport. One of its shining moments was when it hosted Elvis Presley’s first Las Vegas appearance in 1956, and Diana Ross’ final performance as the lead singer of The Supremes in 1970.
It remained the New Frontier until 1967 when billionaire Howard Hughes bought it and renamed it the Frontier, although by then little of the original building existed. In 1988, Margaret Elardi bought The Frontier from the late Howard Hughes company, Summa Corp. Elardi had previously been the part-owner of the Pioneer Club Las Vegas and the Pioneer Hotel & Gambling Hall in Laughlin. She closed the showroom, which had featured Siegfried and Roy, and down-scaled much of the hotel.
In 1991, the Culinary Workers Union went on strike which didn’t end until 1997. The strike ended in 1997 when Phil Ruffin purchased the resort and changed the name back to The New Frontier. The resort has undergone few changes since it’s 1990 remodel, only adding different food venues and convention rooms, and also the widely flocked to Gilley’s, a country western bar with a mechanical bull and mud wrestling. Gilley’s was a spin-off of the Texas saloon in the movie “Urban Cowboy” and was the site of the Venus Room.
In 2007 the property was purchased by El Ad Properties and plans were made to close and demolish the casino for yet another mega-resort on the Las Vegas strip. The 34.5 acre property that held The New Frontier and formerly the Silver Slipper casino was sold for approximately $1.2 billion.
The demolition and its preparation were filmed for the National Geographic Channel and a program called Blowdown: Vegas Casino. The hotel’s marquee remained standing until December 10, 2008, when it was taken down at the request of Steve Wynn prior to the opening of the Encore Las Vegas across the street. The Las Vegas Plaza project was cancelled around November 2011.
In 2014, Crown Resorts and Oaktree Capital Management announced the acquisition of the property with the intent to build the Alon Las Vegas. The project was halted in December 2016 and the land went up for sale in May 2017. On December 13, 2017, Wynn Resorts announced that it was to buy the property, along with an additional attached four acres, for $336 million.