Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016 | 2 a.m.
It is not just a house — excuse me, a mansion.
The story of Las Vegas lives within its walls. The history of an era that spanned three generations echoes from every corner. The magnificence of the mid-20th century is there for all to see in the form of designer gowns like you have never seen before, except in the movies.
I am talking about the unbelievable home of my dear friend, Las Vegas’ dear friend, Phyllis McGuire.
Even millennials should know about the world-famous McGuire Sisters, who burst upon the pop music scene in the early 1950s, because their music and talent have tested the limits of time. Like the Andrews Sisters before them, Phyllis and her siblings entertained the World War II generation — you know, the “greatest generation” — as well as the baby boomers and their kids well into the 1990s.
I have been fortunate over the decades to be a guest in Phyllis’ home, for some of her lavish parties that have yet to be matched and for some private time, like the chance I had to visit last month with her and her longtime buddy, Mike Davis.
When I was a kid, the Rancho Circle Estates were known as the Beverly Hills of Las Vegas. The town has grown up and way beyond Rancho Circle, but the homes within it still carry that certain mystique that is conferred upon the lucky few who call that area home.
Foremost among them is the McGuire mansion.
Phyllis told me that after a lifetime of making memories in that home, it was time for her to write a new chapter in something a bit more manageable. Believe me, the recounting of the life she has lived there could fill and has filled many chapters of a most incredible and exciting story.
There is no short trip through the home. It is room after room, floor after floor of pictures, artwork, carpets from the far reaches of the world and a rare-book collection that I am sure is in the “priceless” category. As a kid, I marveled at the story about steel shutters making the house bulletproof at the touch of a button. It is even more exciting to see it in action.
If you listen to Mike, there was good reason for the security measures — including the bulletproof glass — that adorn the house. The reason was Sam Giancana, a man well-known in his under part of the world who handled matters in a most direct and final way. He also was not happy about the budding relationship between his girlfriend and her new boyfriend, Mike.
At least that is how Mike tells the story. When I looked to Phyllis for confirmation, she just smiled that beautiful, heart-warming smile. There was truth in her expression.
The real emotion from Phyllis came out when she recounted her extravagant parties as well as her more intimate late-night, sometimes all-night, get-togethers with friends like Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Sammy Davis Jr., Kirk Kerkorian, Lee Iacocca and so many others who used her home and her hospitality to wind down from their performances on the Strip or to avail themselves of her lavish pool and tennis court the following day.
Her emotion conveyed a wistfulness of a life fully lived and friendships fully formed. It all happened in Rancho Circle like it happened very few other places on this planet.
The many pictures in the gallery above accompanying this column barely do the place justice because it is not what adorns the walls or covers the floors or is built on the multiple acres. No, the story is what has happened within those walls.
So I asked Phyllis why she is selling her home. I asked Mike too. They admit it is time to “downsize” but say the memories will always be outsized, no matter where she moves. Mike even volunteered to stay back and tell some stories to whoever is the lucky person to wind up with this one-of-a-kind piece of Las Vegas history.
I have heard some of Mike’s stories. It is worth buying the house just to hear them.
I told Phyllis I wanted to write about her decision to sell because there is only one place like hers on Earth. It is special not for the bricks and mortar and paint and rugs. It is special for the history written within its walls and the piece of Americana — Las Vegas style — that it has become.
Stay tuned, because I have a feeling someone with a keen sense of nostalgia will be at her door when that “for sale” sign goes up.
Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.