Living History Day: Visit Phipps’ Cabin and the Ehrman Mansion free of charge | SierraSun.com

Living History Day: Visit Phipps’ Cabin and the Ehrman Mansion free of charge

Special to the Sun
Lew Allison/Submitted to aedgett@sierrasun.comVictoria Workman, right, a volunteer docent at Sugar Pine Point State Park, points out the elegant highlights of the lobby and living room of the Ehrman Mansion for a group of visitors. Local residents in period costumes will act out the elegant life of guests of the Hellman and Ehrman families in the early 20th century July 30 for Living History Day.
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SUGAR PINE POINT – Pine Lodge, the Ehrman family mansion at Sugar Pine Point State Park, will host Living History Day – a free celebration Saturday, July 30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Young and old will want to tour General Phipps’ Cabin, the home of the frontiersman who homesteaded 160 acres that eventually became part of Sugar Pine Point State Park. The cabin Phipps built in 1872 is still standing. Living History Day is the only day of the year when visitors may enter. 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.

The public is invited to spend the entire day at the park, enjoying the gracious lifestyle wealthy residents and guests once experienced at 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 free. Open house entrance to the mansion is available on a first come, first serve basis. Tours of the mansion are usually priced at $8 for adults.

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. For 45 years the Ehrmans opened the mansion to family members and friends for lavish summer stays. The 2,000 acres and 2 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.

Open house at the estate features 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 youths. 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.

Isaiah Hellman’s great-great-granddaughter, the journalist Frances Dinkelspiel, will talk about how Hellman amassed his fortune, his role in banking on the Pacific Coast and the special times he spent at Pine Lodge. Autographed copies of her book, “Towers of Gold: Isaias Hellman and the Creation of California,” by St. Martin’s Press will be available.

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 hot dogs, tacos, 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, bowling and badminton. Children will color drawings of the lodge, act as child curators of antique materials, and participate in storytime. Children can also pose for photographs in 1930s costumes and take home souvenirs.

For further information about parking fees and the full schedule of events, contact Heidi Doyle at the California State Parks Sierra District office at 530-583-3074, or visit http://www.laketahoelivinghistory.com.

– Submitted to aedgett@sierrasun.com