Thunderbird Lodge (Lake Tahoe, Nevada)
|Location||5000 State Route 28|
|Nearest city||Incline Village, Nevada|
|Area||6.51 acres (2.63 ha)|
|Architectural style||Late 19th and 20th Century Revivals, Other|
|Governing body||non-profit Thunderbird Preservation Society|
|NRHP Reference #||00001207|
The Thunderbird Lodge (also known as the Whittell Estate) is a 6.51-acre (2.63 ha) waterfront estate located on the east shore of Lake Tahoe. It was built in 1936 as the summer home of George Whittell Jr., an heir to one of San Francisco's wealthiest families. Whittell also owned almost 40,000 acres (16,000 ha) of the Nevada shore of Lake Tahoe, and planned to develop it, but decided that he "liked not having neighbors." Or, it was more complicated, involving environmentalist pressures and eventually the state of Nevada pressing with eminent domain claims to take much of the land for a state park.
In addition to the main house, the estate contained an "Elephant House"—home to Mingo, Whittell's two ton Indian Elephant --, a 600 feet (180 m) underground passage complete with a dungeon, and a boathouse containing the 55-foot (17 m) Thunderbird yacht. The house has no guest rooms as Whittell wanted no overnight visitors.
Whittell died in 1969 and much of the property went to the state or the U.S. Forest Service. The Lodge is currently owned by the non-profit Thunderbird Preservation Society, and is now a popular tourist attraction. Tours are by reservation only.
- Flinn, John A peak inside Lake Tahoe's house of mystery San Francisco Chronicle. July 14, 2002.
- Denise Bradley and Michael Corbett (May 15, 2000). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Whittell Estate". National Park Service. and accompanying 84 photos
- History - The Lodge Thunderbird Lodge Historic Site
- Extravagant Rusticity: A rich man's folly has become on of Tahoe's treasured historical estates San Francisco Chronicle July 21, 2007.
- Thunderbird Lake Tahoe - official site