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A black and white drawing of the Lake Mansion in the 1800s.
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History of Lake Mansion

 

 

Reno was once named “Lake’s Crossing” for the toll bridge that spanned the Truckee River close to the present day Virginia Street bridge.  Myron Lake would charge a toll to cross the bridge.

Reno was once named “Lake’s Crossing” for the toll bridge that spanned the Truckee River close to the present day Virginia Street bridge. Myron Lake would charge a toll to cross the bridge.

Lake Mansion History

The Lake Mansion, built in 1877 by W.J. Marsh,  was sold to Myron Lake in 1879. Lake is often considered the founder of Reno. In fact, his toll bridge across the Truckee caused the early settlement to be called “Lake’s Crossing.” The Lake Mansion was originally located near the river crossing at Virginia and California Streets in Reno where the “One California Avenue” building stands.

This old black and white photograph shows Lake Mansion at its original location with the Lake Family in the foreground.

The Lake Mansion at its original location with the Lake Family in the foreground.

Myron and Jane Lake

Myron and Jane Lake were married in Lassen County, California in September 1864. Their stormy marriage ended in divorce in 1879.  Myron Lake was notoriously wily in his financial dealings and often angered the citizens of the town he helped to build.

 

Construction

The Lake Mansion is an ornate example of the Italianate style. With the hipped roof and veranda banding the house, it typifies upper middle class prosperity during the period. Well-detailed brackets, window frames, doors and balustrades testify to the quality craftsmanship which went into the structure’s construction.  Among the impressive details of the Lake Mansion are the etched glass of the doorway, the period furnishings, and the carved woodwork over the sliding doors in the front parlor.

 

Moving the Mansion

This old black and white photograph shows the Lake Mansion on the corner of Kietzke Lane and Virginia Street where it was located between 1971-2004.

The Lake Mansion at its second location at Virginia Street and Kietzke Lane.

The Lake Mansion has had three addresses, as the building has been moved twice. The original location was Reno’s first address, on the corner of California Ave and Virginia St. In 1971, the mansion was threatened with demolition, but residents of Reno rallied to save the structure and formed the non-profit Washoe Landmark Preservation. The aging mansion was donated by the owners and moved to the Reno-Sparks grounds of the modern day Convention Center on the corner of Kietzke Lane and Virginia Street. In 2004 the mansion was moved once again to its current downtown location.

 

Restoration

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “old friends are worth keeping,”.  Thanks to several grant awards and donations, dedicated volunteers, craftspeople and staff the mansion has been saved for future generations to enjoy.

On July 11, 2004, a piece of the Lake Mansion is moving slowly down Virginia Street.

On July 11, 2004, the Lake Mansion moving slowly down Virginia Street.

What does the Mansion and VSA Nevada mean to Northern Nevada?
City of Reno Mayor Bob Cashell … As a city, we are committed to maintaining our beautiful historic structures.  One of the most significant structures, the Lake Mansion, will be moving back downtown in 2004 to enhance our already thriving Arts and Culture District.  The Lake Mansion, under the stewardship of VSA arts of Nevada, will be a focal point for the arts, history and programs for locals and visitors.  We look forward to our continued partnership in bringing the Lake Mansion home to shine for all our residents and visitors.

  • Jane and Myron Lake’s home, listed on both the national and state historic registers, will be preserved as a treasure for another century.
  • An additional cultural and historic facility in the burgeoning Reno downtown arts district that now includes the Nevada Museum of
    On July 11, 2004, Bruce and Barbara Goff, descendants of Jane Lake, pose in front of the moving mansion, at the original location of the mansion on Virginia Street and California Avenue on its way to Court Street and Arlington Avenue.

    July 11, 2004, Bruce and Barbara Goff, descendants of Jane Lake, in front of the moving mansion, at the original location of the mansion on Virginia Street and California Avenue on its way to Court Street and Arlington Avenue.

    Art, Pioneer Center, Riverside Artist’s Lofts and The Lear Theater, along with several other private galleries and shops.  The mansion is also a block from Wingfield Park and the Truckee River Whitewater Park at Wingfield.

  • A location for children and adults with and without disabilities to explore the arts in an integrated positive environment.
  • A place for tourists and locals including children and adults to explore Reno’s unique and exciting (sometimes sordid!) history.
  • A permanent home for VSA arts of Nevada, formerly Very Special Arts Nevada, for administrative offices, a fine art gallery, a gift shop and program space inside and out.
  • A resource center for Nevada’s teachers and artists to reference information on the arts, disability issues and Reno history.
  • An event for northern Nevada like no other!  On July 11, 2004  the “most moving event of Artown” took place in Reno when the 40-ton mansion was moved 3.1 miles down Virginia Street.
Author Patty Cafferata holds a small poster advertising her book Lake Mansion:  Home to Reno’s Founding Families. Her book is available to purchase at the Lake Mansion.

Author Patty Cafferata with her book Lake Mansion: Home to Reno’s Founding Families is available to purchase at the Lake Mansion.

 

The Lake Mansion:  Home to Reno’s Founding Families written by author and historian Patty Cafferata.

This story is told through mini biographies of the prominent owners of the Lake Mansion and describes their important roles in Reno’s history.   Learn about Ria and Jerome Marsh, Jane

This photograph shows the mansion being supported on wood blocks while the basement is prepared to built.

After the 2004, move the mansion was supported on wood blocks for several months until the basement was built and the mansion was rolled onto the foundation in October, 2004.

and Myron Lake, Tina and Carl Otto Herz, Viola and Olin Ward and Agueda and Felix Turrillas and what they contributed to the settlement of Reno, once called “Lake’s Crossing”.  The story includes descriptions of the construction and architecture of the building from 1876 to present day.  The book concludes with a description of how the Lake Mansion was saved from the wrecking ball and VSA Nevada’s present operation and ownership of the building.

 

Visit the Mansion

VSA Nevada opens the doors of the beautiful and historic Lake Mansion for self-guided tours on weekdays from 10 AM – 4 PM (unless closed for a meeting/event). Please call our offices for more information at 775-826-6100, ext3# or info@vsanevada.org.

 

Help Maintain the Lake Mansion

Individuals, corporations, foundation, service organizations and others can “help maintain the mansion” with donations.  If you would like to be a sponsor or would like to volunteer please contact:  826-6100, ext 3# or info@vsanevada.org