By Dave Maxwell
Once an elegant establishment, the Mountain View Hotel in Pioche has fallen into such a state of neglect, it has been deemed “unlivable.”
Closed for decades, the building was scheduled to be put up for tax auction by the Lincoln County Treasurer’s Office later this month.
However, at the county commission meeting this week, the board decided to pay the back taxes on the building, take it over, and then decide what to do with it. Treasurer Shawn Frehner said the back taxes amount to $2,254.11.
Chairman Varlin Higbee said the old building “ought to be torn down. It’s a liability. It’s going to fall on somebody.”
County Planning and Building Director Cory Lytle agreed. “It’s been an ongoing project for about 20 years,” he said. “The board had voted to tear it down in 2006.”
District Attorney Dylan Frehner said the building was declared a nuisance at the time, and a certain time frame was set during which it would be torn down. However, that didn’t happen. It went first to bid and then to litigation on a cease-and-desist order. This was followed by a resolution to set up a trust to maintain the structure, but this also didn’t occur.
Lytle said he and a few other local and county officials recently toured both the inside and outside of the building. He confirmed, “It’s unlivable, unfixable. It is a public nuisance.” He mentioned some of the interior walls collapsing, as well as the outside walls.
He recommended the board “take it over, and then we work to a solution of getting rid of it. It’s an issue we need to take care of.”
Built right next to the Million Dollar Courthouse in Pioche, a plaque on the wall of the hotel’s front porch reads: “This hotel was built in 1895 by the Ely Valley Mines to house their guests, and lay claim to such overnight guests as (U.S. president) Herbert Hoover, Nel Murbarger (a famous author of the “Old West”,) many U.S. Senators and Nevada Governors, and many other notables. The foods, the wines, the accommodations and unmatched service was renowned throughout the old west.”
But those days are long gone, and demolition seems to be the only option. The hotel isn’t even listed as a tourist attraction on driving or walking tours of Pioche.
“It’s not an asset to the community,” Lytle said.
One idea he suggested was that “with the building removed, the land could be converted into off-street parking for the Million Dollar Courthouse Museum, which is a county asset, and does have a lot of visitation.”
Higbee said any estimated cost of repairs would involve replacing framing and structural damage. This would amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars and is highly unlikely to be attempted.
Commissioners voted unanimously to pay the back taxes and take over the building.