The public is invited to join Ward 5 Councilman Ricki Y. Barlow, Las Vegas artist Joseph Watson, and neighborhood residents on Saturday, Feb. 9, at noon for the unveiling and dedication of 34 banners that will recognize the Berkley Square Historic District. The unveiling, part of the city’s celebration of Black History Month in February, will take place at the corner of F Street and Leonard Avenue. Parking for this event will be available nearby at the Elks Lodge at 600 W. Owens Ave. The banners will be located on the existing streetlight poles in the area bounded by D Street, Owens Avenue, H Street and Byrnes Avenue.
The Berkley Square Historic District was designated on the National Register of Historic Places in October 2009. Two bronze plaques commemorating this designation will be installed at the intersections of F Street and Leonard Avenue, and D Street and Freeman Avenue, by Feb. 9 and celebrated at the public gathering. Both the banner project and bronze plaques were recommended by the Las Vegas Historic Preservation Commission, and funding for the plaques was provided by this commission.
Architect Paul Revere Williams designed the ranch-style homes in Berkley Square for this first African-American housing subdivision. The houses, which were financed by Thomas L. Berkley and other prominent African-American investors, sold for $7,700 starting in 1955.
“I look forward to unveiling these banners and plaques for our community and especially for the residents of this historic neighborhood,” Councilman Barlow said. “The Berkley Square Historic District represents a turning point for African Americans in Las Vegas, and we want to remember our history as we continue to improve our future.”
The vinyl banners, printed from 10 different paintings on canvas by Watson, will highlight the history of the district. The artist is hosting an exhibit of the original paintings during Black History Month at the Joseph Watson Collection gallery in the Arts Factory at 107 E. Charleston Blvd. Funding for the banners came from a $20,000 grant from the Commission for the Las Vegas Centennial.
Watson, 39, answered the public call for artists and was selected for the project by a special committee assembled for that purpose by the city of Las Vegas Office of Cultural Affairs. A native of California, he studied art at the Los Angeles Trade & Technical College and the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., before moving to Las Vegas in 2004. For more information on the artist, visit www.josephwatsoncollection.com/.