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Historic Vikingsholm at Emerald Bay always in need of attention, support

Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 11:52 AM PST
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TAHOMA, Calif. (KOLO) - It’s a slice of Scandinavia along Lake Tahoe’s shore. Vikingsholm, built in 1929, is the gem of Emerald Bay State Park and now a staple location within California’s state parks system.

“There’s nothing else like it that exists,” said Mark Ernst, maintenance chief for the lake sector of California State Parks. “It’s probably one of the most unique structures in the Western hemisphere and it’s fallen into the hands of the State Park.”

The 38-bedroom castle was constructed between 1928 and 1929 for Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight, who used it as a summer retreat. What used to be Mrs. Knight and a few guests has now turned into 2.5 million visitors to Emerald Bay State Park per year.

But whereas Mrs. Knight had a team of caretakers for the home, the state of California can only offer so many resources to the aging building.

“It’s painstakingly slow,” said Ernst, speaking on virtually all undertakings to preserve the historic site. “There’s a lot of red tape in what we do.”

That’s where the Sierra State Parks Foundation tries to fill the gap. The non-profit and KOLO Cares Pillar Partner works alongside the state parks system, raising funds and offering support where needed.

Unfortunately, the to-do list at Vikingsholm is long, from weathered windows to cracking concrete.

“It just has not had the care it’s needed,” said Ernst. “We’re working with our partners in the foundation to raise money to hire and train staff to hopefully bring this place back to it’s original condition or as close as we can get to that.”

Emerald Bay State Park is just one of the seven along Lake Tahoe that are supported by the SSPF. The foundation works to raise money for projects and various positions throughout the park system, including running the spring & summertime tours of Vikingsholm.

Heidi Doyle, the SSPF’s executive director, says it’s about preserving our history so the following generations can continue to appreciate and learn from it.

“We want to use this as a living laboratory,” said Doyle. “Even though it’s a historic house approaching 100 years old, these historic homes have so much to teach us, so that’s why it’s some important to preserve them.”

To learn more about Vikingsholm (and offer support), click here.

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