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New Washoe City in Washoe County, Nevada — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

History in the Making

The Rest of the Story

 
 
History in the Making Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, June 21, 2016
1. History in the Making Marker
Inscription.  
Gold Turns to Rust
The Mansion Turns to Shambles

AFTER EILLEY LOST THE MANSION IN 1876, the grand house passed through a number of different hands. Myron C. Lake first acquired the mansion and worked hard to revive its glory. The picnics and social affairs continued, but to limited success. One idea he had was to convert the mansion into an insane asylum. Before that happened however, Theodore Winters acquired the property, in the hopes of transforming the mansion into the "new Monte Carlo." He never achieved that dream, but he did revive the picnic season and visitors briefly returned to Bowers Mansion.

EVENTUALLY, Winters gave the mansion to a friend as a gift, but by 1894 that gift had fallen into sad disrepair. All but abandoned, the house was soon in a terrible state of decay. Jackrabbits and birds moved in; the doors were nailed shut; the fishpond was filled with weeds; dry fountains crumbled in the mansion's front yard, and giant ivy leaves spread all over the exterior of the house. Homeless vagabonds were the only people who used the bathhouses anymore.

The Riter Family
To the
Marker detail: Henry Riter & wife Edna at Bowers Mansion image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Henry Riter & wife Edna at Bowers Mansion
During the summer of 1878 the V&T (Virginia and Truckee) train offered special Sunday excursions to Bowers Mansion. People could travel in from Virginia City or Gold Hill roundtrip and enjoy the day in a beautiful setting.

Henry Riter was always sensitive to Eilley Bower's tragic story. When he heard news of her death in California in 1903, he made arrangements to have her ashes returned home. She rests now with all of her family on the hillside above the mansion, thanks to Mr. Riter.
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Rescue

IN 1902, A MAN NAMED HENRY RITER was drinking a pint of beer when he spotted a painting of the Bowers Mansion hanging in a Reno saloon. He found the mansion to be so impressive that he bought the painting and the house site-unseen! He paid $1,000 for the mansion and its 46 acres of surrounding land. Little did he know of the mansion's state of disrepair.

A MAN BORN TO MODEST MEANS, Mr. Riter worked hard as a businessman, eventually acquiring a small fortune. He was in a good position to splurge on revitalizing the mansion to its original glory. Riter and his wife set to work restoring the property to turn it into a glamorous resort and picnic destination. For the next two years, the mansion underwent intensive repairs, preparing the historic house for its next big debut as a top-notch attraction.

The Party Goes On
Reviving Eilley's Vision

ONCE THE MANSION WAS RESTORED, the Riters oversaw a long summer of entertaining and parties in 1905. The season ended with a special moonlight picnic for all local residents. Beneath the Nevada sky, under a bright full moon, guests swam in the pools, danced till dawn, and enjoyed delicious food.

OVER THE YEARS, Mr. Riter leased the mansion to several different people. While he always remained the mansion's owner, and always kept Eilley’s vision for the property alive, he did not live full-time
Marker detail: Picnickers, circa 1900 &<br>Ladies Enjoying the Fountain, circa 1920’s image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: Picnickers, circa 1900 &
Ladies Enjoying the Fountain, circa 1920’s
in the house until 1915. At one point, a doctor ran the mansion. He used the medicinal qualities of the hot springs to cure patients. Later on, new leaseholders remodeled the house into a hotel. They boasted that the mansion provided first class meals and rooms, a fine dancing platform, and the best swimming pools in the state.

MR. RITER CARED FOR THE MANSION until his 80th birthday. Then, in 1943, he decided it was time to sell the family estate.

Reno Women's Civic Club
The Women Who Saved Bowers Mansion

HENRY RITER'S ONLY WISH FOR HIS BELOVED BOWERS MANSION was that it be sold as a park, so that future generations could enjoy the estate just as their parents had. He and his wife waited eagerly to see if the state would purchase their home and make it into a state park.

LITTLE GOOD NEWS CAME THEIR WAY. It wasn't until a chilly winter morning that the fate of Bowers Mansion was revealed: a group of local women would buy the property! They were cash poor, but passionate to save the historic house. Mr. Riter accepted their down payment of only $1.00 with the understanding that they could get the rest of the money in three months time.

THE RENO WOMEN'S CIVIC CLUB switched into high gear. They began a statewide drive to raise funds: they advertised in newspapers, and they hung giant street signs reading: "Help Buy Bowers Mansion!"

A
Marker detail: The Indefatigable Reno Women’s Civic Club image. Click for full size.
4. Marker detail: The Indefatigable Reno Women’s Civic Club
The diligent efforts of these women led to the preservation of Bowers Mansion and surrounding property for posterity.
Park is Born

Washoe County Parks

BY LATE MAY, 1943, the Reno Women's Civic Club had gathered $25,000 in contributions, but unfortunately they needed $75,000 more to acquire the estate. Hearts were heavy until they received some exciting and unexpected news: Washoe County would pay the rest! County commissioners had come to realize how important Bowers Mansion was to the public, thanks to the women's publicizing efforts. The historic site would be saved.

THE BOWERS MANSION RESTORATION COMMITTEE was soon formed and volunteers got busy improving the old building's structure and refurbishing the rooms with Victorian era pieces. The Reno Women's Civic Club remained deeply involved in all future restoration activities. The mansion was reopened to the public in 1950.

FOR THE PAST HALF-CENTURY, ongoing repairs and maintenance of Bowers Mansion have been under the supervision of Washoe County Parks. We are proud to protect and manage this valuable landmark of local heritage.

Enriching Our Future
Protecting the Legacy

BOWERS MANSION SYMBOLIZES not only an important dimension in Nevada state history, but also the energy, commitment, and strength of those that fought to preserve it. Historic resources like this are irreplaceable. Together, we can ensure that they will last for generations to come.

Photos courtesy:
Nevada
Marker detail: Betty Hood image. Click for full size.
5. Marker detail: Betty Hood
Women have always spearheaded the greatest efforts to preserve Bowers Mansion. Betty Hood (red skirt, white sweater) has led tours since 1965. After over 40 years of service, she retired in 2009. She is remembered fondly for her colorful stories and bright red pumps.
Historical Society
University of Nevada Special Collection
Bowers Mansion

 
Erected by Washoe County Department of Regional Parks and Open Space.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public WorkEntertainmentParks & Recreational AreasWomen.
 
Location. 39° 17.083′ N, 119° 50.47′ W. Marker is in New Washoe City, Nevada, in Washoe County. Marker can be reached from Bowers Mansion Road (Alternate U.S. 395) 5.8 miles north of Eastlake Boulevard, on the left when traveling north. Marker is located in Bowers Mansion Regional Park, on the north side of the mansion, near the parking lot. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 4005 Bowers Mansion Road, Washoe Valley NV 89704, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Bowers Mansion (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Bowers Mansion (here, next to this marker); Horses to Horsepower (within shouting distance of this marker); Rusty Relics (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Bowers Mansion (within shouting distance of this marker); Franktown (approx. 0.9 miles away); Ophir Famous Mill Town
History in the Making Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, June 21, 2016
6. History in the Making Marker
(Bowers Mansion parking lot in background)
(approx. one mile away); The Winters Ranch (approx. 2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New Washoe City.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Bowers Mansion
 
Also see . . .  County celebrates Bowers' 70th year as park on May 21, 2016. Seventy years, 12 women and $100,000. The original women from the Reno Women’s Civic Club included Dorothy Allen, Harriett Spann, Alice Addenbrooke, Trudy Fowler, Frances Beaupeurt, Lloydine Clayton, Ella Gottschalck, Harriet Gelder, Villa Peckham, Ethel Parker, Anna Belle Washburn and Joyce Williams. “The ladies are significant to our history because they saw the need to preserve a historic building and park, and they worked to save it,” Buzick said. “If not for them, the mansion would most likely have been converted to a casino and eventually lost to the public.” (Submitted on December 30, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 30, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 29, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 119 times since then and 37 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on December 29, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on December 30, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Aug. 15, 2022