NoeHill Travels in the American West: Nevada

National Register of Historic Places in Washoe County

Last Chance Joe and the Sparks Museum Last Chance Joe

Both Photos 14 March 2016
(Click Photos to Zoom)

National Register #92000116
Washoe County Library-Sparks Branch
814 Victorian Avenue
Built 1931

The former Sparks Branch of the Washoe County Library was designed by Frederick Joseph DeLongchamps. With its red tiled roof and arched entry, the building is an example of the Mediterranean Revival style unique in Sparks.

It is the oldest extant government building in Sparks. As a library, it was a major cultural center from 1931 until it was converted to a justice court in 1965.

When we photographed the building in March 2016, it housed the Sparks Museum & Cultural Center.

In 1958, Last Chance Joe, standing 36 feet tall and weighing 5,500 pounds, was installed outside the Nugget Casino a few blocks away.

Joe was built by RH Grosh Scenic Studios in Los Angeles, a firm that also produced work for Disney.

Joe traveled to Sparks by train in three pieces.

On December 1, 2014, Joe moved to a new home next to the Sparks Museum & Cultural Center, after the Nugget Casino was sold. It seems that Joe did not fit in with the planned renovation of the casino.

Luckily for Joe, the Sparks Museum recognized him as an "irreplaceable piece of roadside Americana typical of mid-century design."

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