Curated Destinations Goes To Las Vegas Part II

The Guardian Angel Cathedral is located on the Strip within the shadow of the Encore Hotel.  All of the times I have been to Vegas, and I never knew that this jewel box of a Cathedral designed by the “Architect to the Stars, Paul R. Williams” was here!   The history of the cathedral starts with a manager at the Royal Nevada hotel petitioning the local diocese to hold a 4:30 am mass for his Catholic graveyard shift workers closer to the strip. There was a Catholic Church across town but it had been built on a dump and had to be demolished shortly after it opened. The Managers wish was granted and services were held at the Royal Nevada hotel also designed by Paul R. Williams.  Masses were eventually moved to the Stardust Hotel ballroom with masses held after the last show. The Reverend Richard Crowley needed a home for his growing flock and knew just who to ask for a more permanent location, Morris Barney Dalitz known as “Mr. Las Vegas.”   Mr. Las Vegas was a legendary bootlegger, racketeer and one of the early players in the gaming business.  The US Senate held hearings in the 1950’s that revealed that he was a top man in the crime syndicate.  Therefore, he had a PR problem so he added philanthropist to his list of occupations.  In 1961 he donated land close to the Desert Inn and world-class architect, Williams was hired to design the cathedral.   It opened for services in 1963.  I was struck by how many people were in attendance for the 2:30 pm mass on the Saturday afternoon.  The Cathedral holds around 1100 people and it was packed. The Cathedral is quite striking in design.  Many angles are featured in the ceiling.  The stain glass panels are lit light wells below.  The artist for the stained glass panels is Isabel Piczek along with her sister Edith.  Their desire was to create a new sacred art form and knew that it would be impossible behind the Iron Curtain.  They escaped to Austria and painted their way across Europe.  I found it interesting that the glass was extremely rectilinear in form from the two female artists, I would have expected more curvilinear form. Interior Guardian Angel Cathedral   Stained GlassAll in all, it was very interesting to see this church in the heart of Las Vegas.  Next time, a look into how Liberace lived and its not what you think.  Till then… For more information on Paul R. Williams, check out this website. In 2012, his granddaughter Karen Hudson wrote a book about her grandfather, Paul R. Williams: Classis Hollywood Style.  It is available on

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