Located at the head of scenic Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe, Vikingsholm has come to be known as one of the most impressive pieces of Scandinavian architecture in North America. We can thank the State of California and Harvey West for preserving this treasure and keeping it open to the public.
Constructed in 1929, Vikingsholm was built to be the summer retreat of Mrs. Laura Josephine Knight, who purchased the property for $250,000. Mrs. Knight commissioned a Swedish architect to design Vikingsholm, and together they traveled to Scandinavia to find inspiration for the design. The major architectural themes were taken from 11th-century Norwegian wooden churches and stone castles from southern Sweden.
After Mrs. Knight's death, Vikingsholm and its Emerald Bay surroundings exchanged ownership a couple of times until Harvey West struck a deal with the State of California to donate half the property value if the State could purchase the other half. California stepped up, and Emerald Bay State Park and the Vikingsholm museum was born.
The 38-room mansion and museum represents an authentic Scandinavian castle whose ornate design matches its majestic natural surroundings. Some of the architectural highlights include the sod roof planted with wildflowers, wood features carved with intricate Scandinavian symbology, stained-glass windows and hand carved, spike-shaped timbers.
The natural surroundings at Vikingsholm are equally impressive. Granite peaks rise 3,000 feet above the bay. The beach located at the head of Emerald Bay is a favorite among summertime swimmers and boaters. Eagle Creek flows over Eagle Falls, running into Emerald Bay nearby Vikingsholm, and Fannette Island, Lake Tahoe’s only true Island, sits offshore with the remains of Mrs. Knight’s “tea house” perched on it’s summit.
From May through September, Emerald Bay State Park runs museum tours at Vikingsholm. The park remains open during the shoulder seasons and winter months, but the Vikingsholm is closed.
For additional information on Vikingsholm tours call, 530.541.3030.