National Register of Historic Places in Clark County
The first integrated hotel and casino in Las Vegas, the Moulin Rouge opened in May 1955. It is celebrated as a landmark of racial integration in Las Vegas and the United States.
Entertainers from the Las Vegas Strip and Hollywood flocked to its showroom and casino, where celebrities and patrons, black and white, mingled freely - an electrifying experience in segregated Las Vegas. Boxing champ Joe Louis, part owner of the hotel and official greeter, welcomed crowds of gamblers, performers, visitors and locals to the color-blind entertainment venue. The Moulin Rouge successfully challenged the long-standing segregation practices of the Las Vegas hotel-casino industry.
Despite its popularity, the Moulin Rouge closed in October 1955. Although there are several theories about the reasons for its closure, the truth remains a mystery. In 1960, it again played a major role in the community's slow progress toward integration when civic leaders and NAACP officials met at "the Rouge" and informally agreed to desegregate Las Vegas hotels. During the last 50 years, many people have attempted to re-open the fabled resort. Originally built by white investors, the property passed into black ownership in 1989. An arson fire on May 29, 2003, burned the original casino floor and showroom. Fortunately, the hotel, commercial area and neon sign were saved. This iconic sign was designed by Betty Willis, the creator of the famous "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign at the south end of the Strip.
Source: Pioneer Trail Route interpretive marker. Moulin Rouge is site 5 on the route.