Thunderbird Lodge is a historic landmark located on the east shore of Lake Tahoe, in Incline Village, Nevada. The lodge has a rich history, dating back to the early 20th century when it was first built as a summer home for a wealthy San Francisco couple.
The original owners, George and Ruth Whittell, were avid outdoors enthusiasts and animal lovers. They purchased the land in the 1920s and built a sprawling estate that would eventually become Thunderbird Lodge. The couple named the estate after the thunderbird, a mythical bird that was revered by many Native American tribes.
Construction of the lodge began in 1936 and was completed in 1939. The lodge was designed by renowned architect Frederic DeLongchamps, who was known for his work on other prominent buildings in Nevada, including the Nevada State Capitol and the El Cortez Hotel and Casino.
Thunderbird Lodge was designed to be a showcase of the Whittell’s vast art collection, which included paintings, sculptures, and other works from around the world. The lodge’s design also incorporated elements of Native American art and architecture, with a focus on the thunderbird symbol.
During the Whittell’s ownership, the lodge was used primarily as a summer retreat, with the couple hosting lavish parties and entertaining guests from around the world. The lodge’s grounds were also home to a variety of exotic animals, including elephants, lions, and bears.
After the death of George Whittell in 1969, the estate was sold to a private developer who planned to turn the property into a resort. However, local residents and conservationists rallied to preserve the property, and in 1972, Thunderbird Lodge was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, Thunderbird Lodge is owned by the non-profit Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society, which is dedicated to preserving and promoting the lodge’s rich history. The lodge is open for public tours, and visitors can explore the grounds, which include the main lodge, boathouse, and several gardens.
Thunderbird Lodge is not only a testament to the wealth and extravagance of the early 20th century, but also to the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the Lake Tahoe region. Its unique architecture and rich history make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Nevada’s past.