A gift from Estelle and Howard Wilbourn in 1955 netted Nevada Southern the very first 60 acres of its campus along Maryland Parkway, however there was a catch. The nascent school had to come up with an additional $35,000 (about $320,000 today) for an adjacent 20 acres if it was going to pocket the 60.
The state authorized $200,000 to help fund development of the school with the specification that Las Vegans themselves develop the funds for the land, and not Nevada taxpayers at big. And they had a due date. If Las Vegas couldn’t do it by June 1956 that $200,000 wouldn’t be launched.
Regional business and neighborhood leaders formed the Nevada Southern Campus Fund to raise that money and more. The group intended to raise $135,000– enough to cover the land purchase, with plenty left over for supplies, equipment, landscaping and other requirements.
The fundraising activities fixated the Porchlight Drive. Beginning at 5:30 p.m. Might 24, KLAS and KLRJ jointly broadcast an hour-long telethon leaning into Las Vegas’ greatest natural deposit: Strip resort performers.
Barney Rawlings, a former World War II bomber pilot turned Thunderbird showroom vocalist and host (and ultimate head of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority) served as master of ceremonies. Actor Jeff Chandler (Broken Arrow, Go Back To Peyton Location) took part, as did the comedy group Davis & & Reese, musical act Martha Davis and Spouse (yep, that’s what they were called), the Billy Williams Quartet, vocalist David Swain, and others.
At 7 p.m., present college student, high school juniors and elders, and Nevada Southern fans, equipped with identification badges and receipt books, went door-to-door intending to collect contributions from 10,000 individuals. The campaign, which stretched until 10 p.m., asked ready donors to leave their patio lights on.
They handled to collect $13,000 in pledges. Early champs of Nevada Southern like Archie C. Grant and Spencer Butterfield went into business neighborhood to aim to close the gap. James Dickinson, the school’s very first administrator and instructor, attempted an all-night radio broadcast to drum up assistance. Through pressure, force of will, and ruthless pursuit of regional business leaders, the School Fund scratched together $50,000.
That $50,000 spent for the 20 acres of land, and more importantly, it secured the $200,000 in state financing. The money for books and supplies would have to wait. There sufficed cash to trigger the powder and begin building of campus’s first structure, Maude Frazier Hall. However the north-south divide that caused the $35,000 requirement in the very first place would foreshadow the spending plan fights to come.