M.S. Dixie II

Zephyr Cove, Nevada | C.1994

Photo Credit: Michael Pollack

Only reachable by boat or a one-mile hike, a sumptuous “Viking” citadel sits on the shores of Emerald Bay. This mansion, touted as one of the finest examples of Scandanavian architecture in the United States, was bult by an heiress of English descent.

Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, Lora J. Knight with her first husband amassed a sizable fortune with a few railroad companies. After his passing, she married Harry French Knight, with whom she became the principal financier of Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Altantic in 1927. While her second marriage didn’t last long, her interest in the cultures and worlds across the pond was only just beginning.

Fascinated by Scandanavian culture, Knight hired Swedish architect Lennart Palme to design a grand home on a plot of land she purchased on Lake Tahoe. Fully committing to the idea of the project, Knight and Palme took a months-long tour of Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway for inspiration. The result? The mixed stone and woodcut estate of “Vikingsholm.”

No detail was spared in the mansion’s design, as some parts of the estate were constructed without nails using old Scandanavian woodworking techniques. Containing 38 decorated rooms, the unique fantasy home served as Knight’s summer getaway for 15 years until her passing in 1945. Now a state museum, Vikingsholm serves as a public “Valhalla”—though no warrior-like acts are needed in order to gain admittance.

:memo: Written by: Seamus McMahon

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