Tahoe's Top Attractions
Built at the turn of the century, this Queen Anne Victorian in Sugar Pine Point State Park represents the opulent post-mining period when wealthy businessmen built elegant summer homes at Lake Tahoe. The three-story rock and wood estate, completed by West Coast financier Isaias W. Hellman in 1902, was designed by well-known architect Walter Danforth Bliss. Hellman, who later became president of Wells Fargo Nevada National Bank, called his 11,703-square-foot summer retreat "Pine Lodge." It had all of the latest comforts, including electricity supplied by a wood-burning steam generator in an adjacent tank house.
Hellman even had tons of topsoil brought in to create a beautifully manicured but steeply sloping grass lawn, which today affords visitors a magnificent picnic grounds. A long pier extends from the shoreline, enabling guests to come and go from Tahoe's passenger steamers. A cadre of butlers, maids, cooks and groundskeepers constantly tended to the estate and its guests. After Hellman's death in 1920, the home was operated by his daughter, Florence Ehrman, and later by her daughter, Esther Lazard, until 1965 when it and nearly 2,000 acres in the General Creek watershed were acquired by the California State Park System.
Visitors who tour the mansion will see the spacious living and dining rooms with their oak floors, polished wood ceilings and elegant fireplaces. The dining table, 30 feet long and eight feet wide, could accommodate 30 guests at one sitting. On the second floor, circular master bedrooms anchor the north and south ends, with six guest bedrooms and eight bathrooms in between. Much of the original furniture was auctioned off in 1965, but the volunteer Tahoe Sierra State Parks Foundation has redecorated the estate with period pieces. The day-use fee for parking is $5 per car. Free tours are held every hour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily from July to early September. On August 14, the state park's Living History Day, park guides and volunteers dress in period clothing and recreate the feel of the place in its heyday. Sugar Pine Point State Park is located on Highway 89, one mile north of Meeks Bay. It also has a small beach, trails system and a large campground. Information: (530) 525-7982.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication