File photo
View of the Mountain View Hotel in Pioche in its glory days.

Once as elegant a hotel as graced anywhere in the western states outside of San Francisco, the Mountain View Hotel in Pioche has fallen into such a state of neglect, it has been deemed, “Unlivable, unfixable, a public nuisance.”

But efforts to save the historic building are still in the works by a number of local residents with additional help being sought from other sources including Nevada Preservation, an organization out of Las Vegas.

Closed for decades, ownership of the hotel was taken over by the county in April 2019 and commissioners decided to wait for a year to see if any interested groups or individuals might come forward, before deciding to have the building demolished.

At that time, commission chair Varlin Higbee said his thinking was that 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.”

However, at the commissioners’ meeting Nov. 4, a number of local residents expressed their concerns about saving the hotel and the members of the commission board changed their minds.

Higbee said he would now like to see the building restored as much as it can be, given the interest expressed by others.

After much discussion, commissioners voted to hand the building over to a non-profit group to seek initial restoration funds.

In regards to the history of the hotel, one local man read an article from the April 18, 1914, issue of the Pioche Record praising the beauty and first class elegance and service displayed at the hotel as well as “one of the finest views on the American continent … [seen] from the porch of the Mountain View Hotel.”

Heidi Swain, Executive Director of Nevada Preservation, a non-profit statewide organization, attended the meeting and said her group would be interested in helping in the restoration of the hotel.

From her preliminary observations, she noted the hole in the roof and broken windows are contributing greatly to the interior deterioration the building has suffered for a long time.

Everyone agreed the hole in the roof needs to be repaired because there are a lot of antiques inside that need to be removed and inventoried.

Jim Wilkin of Jim Wilkin Trucking in Panaca has offered to do excavation and dirt-removal work around the concrete wall at the back of the hotel that is starting to push the building over.

Louie Benezet, curator of the next-door Million Dollar Courthouse Museum, offered $5,000 from his own personal funds for restoration work.

Swain said there are grant monies available that could be obtained quickly for some of the short-term projects. Further grants for the longer-term project can be applied for later.

Commissioner Bevan Lister commented he thought for the short-term, the roof and the façade of the hotel ought to be repaired and stabilized at least for tourists to see, but not enter yet.

Then the heavy amount of interior restoration work could be done to make it safe inside and “turn it into something beneficial for the community.”

County Planning and Director Cory Lytle was still concerned about the amount of work needed on the interior. “There are also some legal issues that remain that may present some obstacles. No matter what we do, there’s huge cost involved in it. Many people have a feel-good idea about the whole thing, but to get from Point A to Point B and C, you’re looking at costs.”

He also brought up the need for workman’s liability insurance.

“And,” he said, “we must also look at getting the load off the building, the load on all three levels. It’s part of the bigger picture that needs to be factored in as well.”

Swain said Nevada Preservation could write an emergency grant fund that could then be turned over to the non-profit group sponsoring the initial restoration.

The hotel has three stories and 18 rooms. Three hot meals were once provided daily to guests. It also housed many jurors who came from miles around the county to attend trials at the courthouse.

A plaque on the wall of the front porch reads: “This hotel was built in 1895 by the Ely Valley Mines to house their guests, and lays 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 food, the wines, the accommodations and unmatched service was renowned throughout the old west.”