LAS VEGAS (FOX5) — The oldest wedding chapel in Las Vegas was unexpectedly demolished on Saturday. Now some community members are pushing for change.
For more than 70 years, couples from all over the world tied the knot at the Wee Kirk o’the Heather Wedding Chapel in downtown Las Vegas.
Translated from Scottish, it means “the little chapel of the lucky flowers.” Now the flowers are gone, and so are the historic walls that witnessed countless love stories.
Executive director of the Nevada Preservation Foundation Heidi Swank said the chapel was recently featured on one of their home history tours.
“The owners were very excited about it, so I was totally unaware that it had sold in April,” Swank said.
Jack Paripovich with Complete Demo Services told FOX5 he found something he’s never seen in Las Vegas before.
“The construction was made out of bricks. It had no two-by-fours in the walls, it was all mud and straw bricks, hundreds and hundreds made this structure. We’ve torn down 200 buildings in Las Vegas — never found one as old as this,” he said.
Wee Kirk was built in 1925, when there were just 2,300 people living in Las Vegas. It was originally a home, then was converted into a chapel in 1940.
Swank said anything built before 1980 in Las Vegas could be considered historic, but it’s not just age that sets this chapel apart.
“This was the very first one of those chapels along Las Vegas Boulevard. So in that, it shows the growth not only of the city, but also of the wedding industry here in Las Vegas,” Swank said. “Little by little, old downtown is going away and it’s all the new buildings.”
That’s why the Nevada Preservation Foundation wants Las Vegas City Council to adopt a protective ordinance to review historic buildings before they’re demolished. It doesn’t mean all buildings built before 1980 will be saved, but they would at least reviewed first.
“Just like on our Facebook page where a lot of people are talking about their parents and grandparents being married at the Wee Kirk o’ the Heather, this is how we create a sense of place,” Swank said.
Swank said she is meeting with a city council member on Monday and will be at their meeting on Wednesday to talk about adding a protective ordinance.
The Foundation started a petition on change.org that they will be bringing to city council to show community support, so people don’t have to show up in person.