Mid-century marvel: At home with Steve Evans
The fabulousness of ‘60s architecture is fit for a Vegas icon (or two)
Thu, Feb 2, 2012 (midnight)
Photo: Beverly Poppe
Steve Evans has gone out for the evening. He’s meeting friends at Oscar’s steakhouse and shows us how to lock the door when we leave. Suddenly, we have the run of the place, and before we finally head out, we take one last look in amazement. Here is the gorgeous mid-century modern home of a Las Vegas icon, built by another—the late Flora Dungan, accountant, university regent and state assemblywoman.
Evans has had a long relationship with the home. As a teenager, he’d meet with Dungan and others in the living room as part of a teen organization, and he house-sat when Dungan was away.
The house is a perfect fit for the former planning commissioner (and son of the late Claude “Blackie” Evans, a noted union leader), who serves as an ardent advocate for the preservation of Las Vegas’ older neighborhoods.
Vaulted ceilings, a freestanding fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows define the interior of this 2,100-square-foot home, built in 1964. Custom built with all the perks of modern living, it includes speakers in the wall, electrical outlets in the flooring, a step-down tub and shower, a built-in book/magazine rack and a built-in buffet wrapping part of the dining room.
“I always loved this house,” Evans says. “It’s like living in a work of art. It’s the best example of the great architecture of that era. It’s clean. It’s iconic.”
The home overlooks the backyard pool and is a prime example of the era’s indoor-/outdoor-living style. It’s built to withstand the desert sun and heat—there are no windows on the west side. Clerestory windows wrap the rest of the house, letting in natural light, and a cantilevered roof shades the living room from the morning sun.
’60s party house
Sofas and chairs placed throughout the rooms and the long, ornate wooden dining table are misleading. Evans says he does very little entertaining other than the occasional charity event and political fundraiser. “It’s a great party house,” Evans says. “It was designed for that. I have this big, huge table. As you can see, there’s only one place mat at the end.”
As a collector, Evans has dabbled in a bit of everything—bronze sculpture, wood, art deco, art nouveau, arts and crafts and Victorian. He was even a lamp whore. Vintage lamps, Murano glass, modernist paintings and leather furniture fill the house. Norfolk pine bowls on display are from his wood phase. Evans says that he has a knack for sniffing out quality. “Things turn up in places that are so unlikely,” he says, adding that he’s bought from auction sites, antiques stores, thrift stores, friends and yard sales. “I don’t have anything of particular value,” Evans says, later correcting that by joking, “A lot of people have a 401(k). I have a vintage leather collection.”
The two items Evans is most attached to are a bronze Jose Luis Sanchez cigarette case and an ashtray given to him by art collectors Wally Goodman and Patrick Duffy. A silk room divider, possibly from the 1800s, bought when Evans was 20 from an auction in an old barn outside of Carson City, is one of his longest-owned items. The other is an art deco table with mirrors he saw in a men’s store window display in Georgetown that was once used for women trying on hats.
While at home
Most of his time is spent in the den, once Dungan’s office, which is lined with photos of family and friends as well as political memorabilia. On the wall hangs an editorial cartoon featuring politicians throwing stones at Dungan, who, at the time of its drawing, was advocating prison reform. There are photos of her with her Democratic friends and a subtly scathing typed letter to Dungan from an angry politician after she sued the state.
In addition to her advocacy, Dungan was known for her fast cars and fancy clothes, Evans says. He’d like to write a book about her. “I have so many Flora stories. She was a remarkable woman.”
You know you’ve arrived at Evans’ home when you see bowling balls amid the landscape, serving as “land mines” to keep foot traffic off the yard. Most important to Evans is his Downtown neighborhood. He has a copy of the original 1955 ad for the custom lots in the area, then referred to as Morning View Heights, that became home to prominent Las Vegans. “Everybody lived here. There’s a lot of history.
“I feel really uncomfortable when I go to the suburbs. I feel safer here, maybe because it’s familiar. Even when I know there might be better food options in the suburbs, I think, ‘I can’t go there.’”