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Audio clip from interview with Jon Sparer, March 4, 2015

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Part of an interview with Jon Sparer, March 4, 2015. In this clip, architect Jon Sparer discusses his involvement with designing and building the synagogue for Congregation Ner Tamid.

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Jon Sparer oral history interview, 2015 March 04. OH-02282. [Audio recording]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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I left Marnell Corrao, retired a few years back in '99 and opened up a new office with two of my Marnell friends who had also left Marnell in 2001. We were really a very small office, just about wanting to do anything. And Jerry Gordon called me up and said, ?Jon, we're going to move the Temple. Would you guys be the architects?? What did you think about that? And I said, ?Jerry, I've never done a temple.? Actually, my experience even at Marnell Corrao I designed the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer for the Catholic Church off Las Vegas Boulevard by Tropicana. So that was my experience with religious architecture, which that's a whole other story as it was as well. But to me architecture is architecture and it's just studying and just being sensitive to the needs of what a building needs to be. I was reluctant. I told Jerry I didn't want to deal with committees because our jobs that we'd always had with the hotel/casinos, we always had strong clients that could make decisions and you'd move. And Jerry told me, he says, ?Jon, I promise that you will not have to deal with a committee.? I said, ?Okay, Jerry, you've got a deal; we'll do it.? And we did and we spent a lot of time looking around town for the piece of property because the old temple was over on Emerson off Eastern Avenue, like by Flamingo and Desert Inn, the old part of town, which forty years ago was the perfect place to be. And it was forty years ago; we just had our fortieth anniversary. But Jerry and a bunch of smart guys like Jerry-and Jerry, I think, was the ringleader-just was recognizing that everybody was moving to Green Valley or Summerlin or the outlying areas. The number of kids in the religious school every year was going down, the membership was going down, and the temple was really going to be dying if we didn't do something about it. We spent a lot of time talking about where the temple would go because we had people in Henderson, we had people in Summerlin, and the temple, as it was, was in the center of town. It was equally inconvenient for everybody because it was just difficult to get to. I came to it from Summerlin. The 215 was just in the process of being built. So there was a lot of new development along the Beltway 215. We were really serious on a piece of property off Sunset right by the curve of 215 on the west side and I had actually done some scheming; the office and I had done schemes, preliminary plans on it. And it was a challenged piece of property because it was a big wash that went right through the front of it. I saw it as an opportunity and we had these bridges crossing from the street over on to the property, which even the rabbi liked because we have some symbolism happening with leaving the secular, coming across onto the religious. But then the Greenspun family stepped up and they offered the property that the congregation is on now as a gift to the congregation. I can tell you, at the groundbreaking, Brian Greenspun-it was Brian-he said, ?The end of our dream is the beginning of yours.? Because this was the last piece of the original Green Valley property that the Greenspun family had bought. So it was their last piece of property that was the end of their dream; it was the beginning of our dream. It was wonderful. Nice symbolism. It was; it was just absolutely fantastic. So the fact that it's further from Summerlin, but it's right off the 215, I believe, has worked. Demographically, I believe there are more families in the Henderson area that are temple members than Summerlin, but you'd have to ask Roberta Unger. But I believe that even the people from Summerlin are still members. I know I am and it's fifteen minutes, twenty minutes. So that was this piece of property. So the conversations that I had with the rabbi and with Jerry and with the committee for the new Temple, the same descriptions of what we wanted the temple to be kept coming up. We wanted it to be warm. We wanted it to be friendly. We wanted it to be inviting. That was the most important thing that was so important. We talked about a campus. I don't think anybody in the room really knew what a campus meant, but they liked the idea of a campus. I purposefully did not go see [new] Beth Sholom.