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[graphic] Three Historic Nevada Cities Carson City, Reno, Virginia City A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary
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[photo] Bowers Mansion
Photo by Terri McBride, Courtesy of Nevada State Historic Preservation Office
The Bowers Mansion was built in 1863 by Lemuel "Sandy" Bowers and his wife, Eilley, and is the finest example of the homes built in Nevada by the new millionaires of the Comstock mining boom. The land originally was purchased in 1856 by Eilley and her first husband Alex Cowan, who returned to Utah a year later with other Mormon settlers. Eilley secured a divorce and moved to Gold Canyon where she ran a boarding house and later acquired the mining claim which, together with that belonging to her second husband Sandy, became the source of their fortune. The mansion was the fulfillment of Eilley's dreams of prestige and respectability. The mansion, designed by J. Neeley Johnson, a builder and ex-governor of California, combined Georgian and Italianate architectural styles. It was modeled after a design conceived by Eilley based on her recollection of elegant buildings in her native Scotland. Indeed, the Bowers employed stonecutters from Scotland for the construction of their new home, which eventually cost $400,000 to build, an exorbitant sum in the 1860s. Eilley and Sandy toured Europe from 1861 to 1863, purchasing furniture, statuary, painting and other adornments for their home.

[photo] Bowers Mansion in 1940
Photo courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection, LC-USF34-029749-D DLC

Following the death of Sandy Bowers in 1868, Eilley fell on hard financial times and finally lost her precious home to foreclosure. The mansion was abandoned by the time Henry Riter acquired it and operated it as a resort until 1946. The building is currently owned and operated by the Washoe County Parks Department. Some 500 Nevada families have donated period furniture housed in the mansion. The park blends the historical site with recreational facilities such as a spring-fed swimming pool, picnic areas, and a playground. Tours of the mansion are given in summer and autumn.

The Bowers Mansion is located in Washoe Valley, on Franktown Rd., 19 miles south of Reno, on the way to Carson City. Access Franktown Rd. from US 395; the junction is marked with a "Bowers Mansion" sign. The mansion is open from May 18th - Sept 29th 2013 at 10:00am-3:00pm. Hourly weekend tours only with admission fee. For further information call 775-849-0201

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 [graphic] link to Carson City Essay
[graphic] link to Reno Essay [graphic] link to Virginia City Essay

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