By Bob Conrad & Kristen Hackbarth
Jacobs Entertainment said they’re rethinking the name they’d planned to use for a soon-to-be built apartment building at Arlington Avenue and West Second Street after announcing it earlier this month.
The Claude, as it was being called, drew criticism this week after news of the naming began to spread. Jeff Jacobs, who helms Jacobs Entertainment, said in an early March TV interview his newest apartment complex inside the so-called Neon Line District was to be The Claude, named after neon lighting inventor Georges Claude.
Claude was also a Nazi sympathizer.
“As we continue the progress in Reno’s Neon Line District, we became aware that the name we proposed for the housing planned on Second and Arlington, The Claude, is not reflective of the positive mission and goals of the district,” Jacobs said in an emailed statement to This Is Reno. “In light of new information, we will be internally discussing an alternative name for the apartment project.”
Georges Claude, a French engineer and inventor, pioneered and refined the use of neon tube lighting and exhibited it at the 1910 Paris Auto Show, according to his Wikipedia page. Two sections down on the page, however, it’s also pointed out that Claude not only supported restoration of the French monarchy, but publicly supported France’s collaboration with Germany during World War II.
Claude was convicted for his work in collaboration with the Axis Powers following the war, stripped of his honors and sentenced to life in prison.
Deborah Achtenberg, a professor emeritus in philosophy at University of Nevada, Reno, recently published a blog post about antisemitism. One of her research areas is in French philosophers’ views of antisemitism. She said that it’s important to call out, act against and stop antisemitism from both the left and the right.
Achtenberg also said Claude was definitely not someone deserving of any building’s name.
“More than a sympathizer, Georges Claude was an active Nazi collaborator stripped of all his honors and imprisoned by the French government after World War II. He even wrote tracts urging others to collaborate – and, early in his life, was a member of the anti democratic Action Française and friend of its notorious leader, Charles Maurras,” she said. “If ever there were a figure not to name a Reno building after, it would be Georges Claude.”
Jeff Johnson, a neon artist in Reno, said somebody didn’t do their homework.
“Obviously Jacobs didn’t look down to the bottom of the Wikipedia page to see what happened to see why he is not a household name,” he said. “Is the James Earl Ray auditorium going in next door?”
Ray murdered Martin Luther King Jr.
The names of features that have so far been announced within Jacobs’ planned “Neon Line District” all relate to neon lighting of some sort, as was pointed out by historian Alicia Barber. That includes the Neon Line District name itself, as well as the Glow Plaza and The Claude.
Jacobs said The Claude is expected to break ground in May and be completed by fall. The rest of Jacobs’ plans for the area have yet to be announced.