NoeHill Travels in the American West: Nevada

National Register of Historic Places in Washoe County

National Register #76001143: Bowers Mansion in Washoe Valley 17 March 2016
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National Register #76001143
Bowers Mansion
4005 Old Highway 395 South
Washoe Valley
Built 1863

The Bowers Mansion is the finest example of the type of home constructed in Nevada by the new millionaires of the Comstock Lode. Its builders, Lemuel S. "Sandy" Bowers and his wife, Eilley, were two of the first to become wealthy from their mining interests in Nevada, and the mansion was the fulfillment of Eilley 's dreams of prestige and respectability.

A San Francisco architect designed the building combining elements of the Georgian and Italianate styles. Stonecutters were brought in from Eilley's native Scotland. No expense was spared in either the construction or the furnishings. Eilley and Sandy toured Europe purchasing furniture, statuary, paintings and other such adornments.

Eilley and Sandy entertained local residents in a lavish fashion, but their mine soon began to play out. An early spring thaw in 1868, flooded and destroyed their mill in Gold Hill and their fortunes began to decline.

Sandy died in April of 1868. Eilley took some bad financial advice and put herself in an even worse financial situation. She tried to sell the mansion to the state for an insane asylum. She added a third story to take in boarders. She sold furnishings.

Finally, the mortgage was foreclosed. The mansion went through a succession of owners over the years, falling into a state of extreme disrepair. Furniture, dishes, statuary, tile and other items were stolen. The third floor balcony fell off. Windows were broken. Animals wandered through the structure.

Source: Adapted from the NRHP Nomination Form submitted in 1976.

Washoe County purchased the Bowers Mansion and restored it. It is open to the public as the centerpiece of Bowers Mansion Regional Park.

The Bowers Mansion is also Nevada Historical Landmark 166.

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