Mark Hall-Patton didn’t set out to become a celebrity, but thanks to his frequent appearances on TV’s “Pawn Stars,” he’s become just that. Mark is to southern Nevada history what Elvis was to music—an innovator with an enduring legacy. Mark talked to our Carrie Roussel recently about what life is like when the cameras stop rolling. The full interview with Mark can be read at nevadamagazine.com/hall-patton.
Question: What is your connection to Nevada?
Mark Hall-Patton: I am the museum administrator for the Clark County Museum System. My family and I moved here in December 1993 to run the Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum inside McCarran International Airport. In 2007, my colleague retired and the county gave me the other two county museums as well. I’m a fourth-generation Californian, and I’ve worked all over the country, but I’ve been in Nevada for 24 years. We moved to Henderson in 1994 and still live in that same home.
Question: What’s your favorite thing about Nevada?
Mark Hall-Patton: Living in southern Nevada, I can get out into the countryside in very little time. I’m not a city person. I’ve been all over the state, from Las Vegas to Jarbidge; Elko to Ely; to Tonopah and Goldfield.
During the Las Vegas centennial celebration, there was a re-creation of the first land auction that was held on May 15, 1905. I was lucky enough to sit with someone who was actually at that first auction. He was only a few months old at that original auction, but that history is tangible, so to speak.
Question: Tell us a little about yourself.
Mark Hall-Patton: I am a museologist. I run museums and did my graduate work at the University of Delaware and my undergraduate at University of California, Irvine. I am married to Dr. Colleen Hall-Patton, a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I’m an omnivore when it comes to history. I‘m constantly reading, writing, even talking to folks on the street. I collect law enforcement badges, books, and fraternal swords.
I’m a member of The Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus (ECV) and I’m very focused on history and understanding the world around me. I like to bring history down to the human level; things like why does it seem like Gass Avenue is spelled incorrectly? Because it is not named for gas, it is named for Octavio Decatur Gass, a 19th-century Las Vegan.
Question: If you could tell people just one thing about Nevada, what would it be?
Mark Hall-Patton: Personally, I like to tell people it is a beautiful state with really interesting history.
Question: Do you have a favorite quote or motto?
Mark Hall-Patton: I guess the one I use most often is the ECV motto “Credo Quia Absurdum,” which means I believe it because it is absurd. It’s kind of a joke within ECV.
Question: Are there any Notable Nevadans who have influenced you?
Mark Hall-Patton: Yes, but they aren’t as well-known as others. Florence Murphy was a resident of Las Vegas and founded the North Las Vegas Airport before WWII. In 1947, she was the first female vice president of a scheduled airline in the U.S., and served until 1958 before opening up her own real estate business. She had no aviation background. She broke the glass ceilings because she just didn’t recognize that they were there.
George Crockett founded Alamo Airport, which became McCarran International Airport, and did a great deal for aviation.
Question: Anything you’d like to end with?
Mark Hall-Patton: I’d like to advise everyone to come by the museum. We’re only open seven days a week, so hopefully you can catch us.
Clark County Museum 1830 S. Boulder Highway Henderson, NV 89002
clarkcountynv.gov, 702-455-7955 Open daily 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Admission: adults $2, seniors and children $1