Plea made for matching grant money to protect Thunderbird Lodge |

Plea made for matching grant money to protect Thunderbird Lodge

About $50,000 in grant money to preserve Thunderbird Lodge will be lost if matching funds are not raised by the end of this year.

The Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs has been enlisted to help find matching funds to save the anonymous $50,000 donation to the Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society of Lake Tahoe.

The money was offered to secure sufficient funding to replace the roofing on the Thunderbird Lodge complex.

The Thunderbird Lodge was the home of multi-millionaire George Whittell, Jr. from 1881 to 1969. In the 1930s, Whittell purchased most of the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, and Thunderbird Lodge survives as a testament to what millions could purchase in the midst of the Great Depression.

The Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society manages the facility, giving the public an opportunity to enjoy one of the finest mansions at Lake Tahoe and to learn about the history of a time and a man that made it all possible.

“This is our best chance to give the Whittell Mansion and the other buildings in the historic district new roofs,” Ron James, state historic preservation officer said. “A great deal of money has been raised for this project, but now we need to look to private donors to close the gap. If we can’t get these roofs replaced, we risk seeing one of Nevada’s best historic resources severely damaged.”

The Nevada Commission for Cultural Affairs provided $175,000 to re-roof the complex, in order to save the important buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Actual costs for the project will be $350,000. The Lodge has secured additional donations of $125,000, but $50,000 of that will be withdrawn if the public does not donate an additional $50,000 before Dec. 31.

“I am so grateful for all the support we have received from the community,” Bill Watson, executive director of the Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society, added. “Now we are calling on the region so we can match this donation. I am hopeful that some generous people will recognize that we cannot afford to lose this treasure.”

People interested in making donations to this project should contact Bill Watson at (775) 832-8755.

The Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society is a non-profit organization mandated to preserve and interpret the George Whittell Mansion at Lake Tahoe. The State Historic Preservation Office is an agency of the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs. The Department serves Nevada’s citizens and visitors through cultural and information management, presentation and promotion of cultural resources, and education.

The Department also includes the Division of Museums and History, Nevada State Library and Archives, Nevada Arts Council, Comstock Historic District Commission, and Commission for Cultural Affairs. For more information on the Department of Cultural Affairs, please call Teresa Moiola at (775) 687-8323 or visit the department’s website at

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User