Fergusons brings together local artisans, restaurateurs, performers, and curators for a contemporary downtown experience with an undercurrent of nostalgia.
By Lissa Raylin Brewer with Claire Butwinick
Photographed by Aimlee Photography
Eight blocks beyond Las Vegas’s Fremont Street nightlife epicenter, Fergusons Downtown, a landmark motel-turned-community block, showcases a contrasting selection of locally inspired restaurants, pop-up yoga sessions, and a monthly makers market.
This is the beginning of a new era for a site that continues to evolve alongside a historic district of Las Vegas. First opened as the mission revival Franklin Motel by a family who lived on site more than seventy years ago, the midcentury traveler’s hub—later renamed Fergusons after changing hands in the ‘60s—sat vacant in recent years before reopening last winter as a vibrant mixed-use gathering space. This time with echoes of nostalgia.
“Keeping the historical integrity of the building is very important to us,” says Fergusons cofounder and creative strategist Jen Taler, who has been working alongside Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh on the project. (Taler formerly worked as a buyer at Zappos and became friends with Hsieh. The pair decided to cofound Fergusons Downtown together.) “We worked in historic detail from the period, creating our branding from the existing Ferguson’s marquee sign, showcasing Spanish tiles and arched doorways, and replicating original color schemes and features.” A majority of the structure remains intact, with spaces like the former parking lot, now an outdoor gathering space and artisanal coffee shop, transitioned to accommodate new uses.
Fergusons former motel rooms now house an eclectic mix of shops selling everything from body-positive vintage goods to tintype photography gear. Rising fifty feet above the property’s hand-picked greenery is “Big Rig Jig,” a sculpture installation acquired with the intent to place public art as a centerpiece of the project’s design. Now, Fergusons is reaching out to the creative community via “Rooted In,” a new podcast focused on telling the stories of local community members. As Taler explains, “We started Rooted In to offer another platform for people to connect. We always work alongside our community, whether that is through art, music, small business, or just human-to-human connection within our city.”