Revisit the 1930s at Lake Tahoe’s Ehrman Mansion at Sugar Pine Point on Living History Day


Lake Tahoe, CA – Pine Lodge, the Ehrman family mansion at Sugar Pine Point State Park, will host Living History Day – a celebration of lakeshore life in the 1930s – on Saturday, July 27, 2013, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Living history activities will include Open House tours, a children’s activity zone, an antique car show, live music, hourly raffles and a silent auction, and a wooden boats display. Refreshments will be available for purchase. All events are free, though parking is $10.

The public is invited to spend the entire day at the park, enjoying the gracious lifestyle that wealthy residents and their guests once experienced at their summer retreats on the west shore of Lake Tahoe. Park visitors will be treated like guests of the late Florence and Sydney Ehrman, with many entertaining activities – concerts, historical talks, movies, painting with artists-in-residence and guided tours, all of them free. Open House entrance to the mansion is available on a first come, first serve basis. (Tours of the mansion are usually priced at $10.00 for adults and $8.00 for juniors.)

The Ehrmans were a wealthy San Francisco family who summered at the lake for 45 years. Pine Lodge was built by Florence Ehrman’s financier father, Isaias W. Hellman, in 1903, and for 45 years the Ehrmans opened the mansion to family members and friends for lavish summer stays. The 2,000 acres and two miles of lakefront beach were closed to the public until Esther Lazard, Florence’s daughter, sold the property to the state of California in 1965.

On Living History Day, visitors are welcome guests at the mansion. Tours of the estate will feature vignettes by costumed characters playing the roles of Florence Ehrman, the family’s butler, the upstairs maid and the cook who keeps the house smelling delightful with her constant baking.

The Sierra State Parks Foundation has arranged a variety of educational exhibits. Vintage cars will be parked near the mansion. The Children’s House, built in 1930 for the Ehrman children, Esther and Sydney, Jr., will host a myriad of activities just for kids. Classic wooden and aluminum boats will be on display at the lodge’s two boathouses with docent presentations. Historical talks will be presented throughout the park, and visitors can take guided nature hikes through the Z’berg Natural Preserve to the “highest lighthouse in the world” or along the Washoe Path of the Water Babies.

Living History Day raffle tickets are 6 for $5 and can be purchased on the day of the event or at the Sugar Pine Visitor Center. The silent auction will include a cruiser bike and fine art by local artists. All proceeds go towards supporting Living History Day events.

Visitors will want to bring swimwear and towels to take advantage of the estate’s beach. A bathhouse is available for changing clothes. Those who would like to picnic on the vast lawn overlooking the lake can bring their own lunch or buy hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecued chicken, ice cream bars and soft drinks on site.

There will be special thrills for younger visitors at a children’s area, where they will receive a free passport to the 1930s that provides access to games popular in the 1930s such as croquet, pick up sticks and jacks. Children will make old-fashioned arts and crafts such as paintings of the lodge and pine-cone bird feeders to take home as souvenirs. Children can also pose for photographs in 1930s costumes or compete in the watermelon-spitting contest.

Young and old will want to tour General Phipps’s Cabin, the home of the frontiersman who came to Tahoe in 1860 to homestead 160 acres that eventually became part of Sugar Pine Point State Park. The cabin Phipps built in 1872 is still standing, and Living History Day is the only day of the year when visitors may walk through it. Guides playing Phipps’s pioneer friends will regale visitors with stories of pioneer life as they work with their tools and load and shoot their black-powder rifles.

This event would not be possible without the support of sponsors, including the Hellman Family Foundation, the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, the Sierra State Parks Foundation and the Tahoe Weekly.