Two adults and two children pose in front of the Lake Mansion in its original corner of Virginia St. and California Ave.

The Lake Mansion on the corner of Virginia Street and California Avenue, its original location (1877-1971).

VSA Nevada owns and operates the Lake Mansion, once known as “Reno’s First Address”.  The mansion was built in 1877 and is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

In 1995, VSA Nevada expressed the need for larger office space in a Winter newsletter.  Bruce Goff, the great great grandson of Myron and Jane Lake and a board member for Washoe Landmark Preservation, called the executive director stating, “How about moving into the Lake Mansion?” After a visit from the VSAN board/staff and much discussion the decision was made to move the administrative office into the Lake Mansion the beginning of 1996.

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 on the corner of Kietzke Lane and Virginia Street (1971-2004).

The Lake Mansion was owned by Jane and Myron Lake, who is considered to be the founder Reno, which was once called “Lake’s Crossing.”  The Lake Mansion was originally located on the corner of Virginia Street and California Avenue.  In 1971, to prevent its demolition, Washoe Landmark Preservation moved the building to the grounds of the Reno-Sparks Convention Center at the corner of Kietzke Lane and Virginia Street and started renovation.

VSA Nevada brought life back to the 1877 building with programs on the lawn including “Arts on the Green”, the celebration of Reno’s Birthday in May, workshops and exhibits. VSA Nevada raised funds for the much needed renovation of the mansion including the installation of an elevator and renovation of the basement to usable space.

In 2000, with the planned expansion of the Reno-Sparks Convention Center (RSCVA), the RSCVA board and staff requested that the mansion be moved from the Convention Center site to another location to allow for a “super block.”  Due to lack of access and utilities during the RSCVA’s expansion, VSA Nevada moved out of the mansion in 2001 to 135 N. Sierra Street, a retail/gallery space in the heart of Reno’s Arts District known as the “Parking Gallery” on the corner of Sierra and First Streets.

Several City of Reno sites were explored as possible Lake Mansion sites including several parks.  Criteria developed by the Historical Resources Commission  included:  City of Reno land that would be leased from the City at a greatly reduced rate, within the City of Reno’s Arts District, and cohesiveness with surrounding buildings.  The Court and Arlington site received the highest ranking. From 2001-2004, funds were raised from several different sources to move and renovate the mansion after the move.

This colored photograph shows the Lake Mansion at its present (and final) location Court Street and Arlington Avenue, Reno where it has been located since 2004.

The Lake Mansion at its present (and final) location Court Street and Arlington Avenue, Reno (2004- present ).

On July 11, 2004 the mansion was moved starting at 5 AM and “landing” at the Court Street, Flint Street and Arlington Avenue site at 12:20 PM.  Photos from both the 1971 and 2004 moves are on display in the Lake Mansion’s solarium off the dining room.  In February, 2005 VSAN moved back into the Lake Mansion and programs started back up in June, 2005.

The mansion houses VSA Nevada administrative offices on the top floor, a historic main floor with period furnishings including several Lake family pieces, a two room “Arts Access Gallery” with work created by emerging and professional artists who have a disability and the “Art Happens Here” art studio on the lower level. In 2008, an adjacent enclosed Garden Pavilion was built steps south of the mansion to house additional programs, workshops and events.

The mansion is now an active and integral component of Reno’s Arts District with year-round art workshops, camps, exhibits, and programs.  The public is also able to rent the Lake Mansion, Garden Pavilion and patio for their wedding, party and special event.

Although VSA Nevada owns and operates (no rent or mortgage payment!) the monthly operation of the mansion is considerable.  If you would like to donate to VSA Nevada for the upkeep and preservation of the mansion please use the “donate now” button.  Thanks!

The mansion is usually open-to-the-public Monday – Friday from 10 AM – 4 PM for self-guided tours.  Please call for more information 826-6100, extension 3# or info@artsforallnevada.org.