Lake Mansion History

Why is the Lake Mansion VSANV_LakeMansion_Painting_ C.B.McClellan1882so important to Reno?

The Mansion is on the list of Nevada’s State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Reno was once named “Lake’s Crossing” for the toll bridge that spanned the Truckee River. This bridge would have been very close to the present day Virginia Street bridge.

Myron Lake would charge a toll to cross the bridge.  He and Jane Lake owned the Lake Mansion, considered to be “Reno’s First Address”.  The featured original oil painting to the left, by artist C.B. McClellan (1882), is on display in the Lake Mansion’s dining room.   Postcards of this painting are available for visitors.


The Lake Mansion’s different locations

Black and white photo of the exterior of the Lake Mansion with Lake family (Jane and children) in the foreground.

Black and white photo of the exterior of the Lake Mansion with Lake family (Jane and children) in the foreground.

The Lake Mansion has had three addresses! The structure has been moved twice. The original location was “Reno’s first address”, on the corner of California Avenue and Virginia Street.

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. On July 29, 1971, the Mansion moved 3 miles south to the corner of Virginia Street and Kietzke Lane. This was on the grounds of the now Reno-Sparks Convention Center, previously called “The Coliseum”.

The Mansion moved again on July 11, 2004. The distance was 3.1 miles north to its present location on the corners of Court Street, Flint Street and Arlington Avenue. It was said to be the “most moving” event of ARTOWN!  The Mansion was mounted to a large truck-bed, slowly headed north down Virginia Street.  Descendants of Jane Lake, Bruce and Barbara Goff,  were present during both moves.

After the 2004 move, the Mansion was supported on wooden stilts for three months while a basement was constructed. The Mansion was rolled onto the foundation/basement in October, 2004.  Arts for All Nevada worked diligently to raise the needed funds for the move and renovation.  The Mansion was re-opened in March, 2005 less than a year after the move.  The Mansion is owned and operated by Arts for All Nevada.

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “old friends are worth keeping”.  Arts for All Nevada and the entire community thank donors to the mansion, dedicated volunteers, and craftspeople.  The Mansion has been saved and now maintained for future generations to enjoy.

About the ArchitectureCurrent photo ofthe Lake Mansion's front entrance

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.


What does the Mansion and Arts for All Nevada mean to Northern Nevada?

At the time, City of Reno Mayor Bob Cashell said:

“… 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 (now Arts for All 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.”

Arts for All Nevada, here in the Lake Mansion, offers this:

  • A location for children and adults to explore the arts.
  • A place for tourists and locals to explore Reno’s unique and exciting (sometimes sordid!) history.
  • A permanent home for Arts for All Nevada, formerly Very Special Arts Nevada, for Administrative offices, a Fine Art Gallery, and program space inside and out.
  • A place for individuals, service organizations, and corporations to rent for their meeting or special event.
  • A resource center for Nevada’s teachers and artists to reference information on the arts, disability issues and Reno history.

lake-mansion-book-coverCurious to learn more? 

Lake Mansion: Home to Reno’s Founding Families, written by Author Patty Cafferata, is available for purchase at the Lake Mansion.

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 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 Arts for All Nevada’s present operation and ownership of the building.

Come Visit the Lake Mansion!

Arts for All Nevada opens the doors of the beautiful and historic Lake Mansion for Guided Tours on Fridays at noon.

Please call our offices for more information at 775-826-6100, ext3# or info@artsforallnevada.org.


Click here for a larger photo of map.

While you are here – Visit our wonderful neighbors, just steps from the mansion!

Efforts to Maintain the Lake Mansion

Individuals, corporations, foundations, 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:

Grace at rentals@artsforallnevada.org, 826-6100, ext 3#
Amanda and Laurel at info@artsforallnevada.org, 826-6100, ext. 2#
You can also click this link to complete a Volunteer application form, fill out an online inquiry form