Bowers Mansion – New Washoe City, Nevada - Atlas Obscura
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New Washoe City, Nevada

Bowers Mansion

Historic home to one of the most famous women pioneers of the 19th century. 

The Comstock Lode was the first major discovery of silver ore in U.S. history, and it sent a small handful of Americans from the working class to a new life of affluence. Two of those who struck it rich were husband and wife Sandy and Eilley Bowers, an American teamster and a famous Scottish pioneer respectively. Throughout the early 1860s, the pair used their accumulated wealth to construct Bowers Mansion, the first stately home in the history of the Nevada Territory.

Built in 1863 on the land that she won in a divorce settlement with one of her previous husbands, Bowers Mansion was Eilley’s dream house. For a cost of $400,000 ($7.7 million in today’s dollars), the estate combined Georgian and Italianate architecture to resemble Eilley’s recollection of her homeland in Scotland.

Bowers Mansion brought Eilley’s long, eventful life to worldwide fame. Complete with fine furniture, elegant adornments, marble fireplaces, and a handful of paintings, the mansion was Eilley’s ultimate testament to her pride and success. In addition to being her claim to fame, the famous female pioneer also used the estate to assist the women’s suffrage movement, which used the mansion to host one of their balls.

Unfortunately for Eilley, the riches couldn’t last forever. The Comstock Lode eventually played out, and the Bowers’ seemingly-endless supply of wealth soon became unreliable. In 1868, Eilley’s husband Sandy died, by 1876 she was forced to foreclose Bowers Mansion and become a poor fortuneteller in Oakland.

But today, nearly 150 years after its historic foreclosure, Bowers Mansion still stands. The stately home remains a tourist attraction and offers hourly weekend tours from May 21st to October 30th. To restore the mansion’s original stately appeal, over 500 families in Nevada have donated antiquated pieces of furniture to Bowers Mansion.

Nowadays, Bowers Mansion and the adjacent cemetery can be explored. The estate’s grounds maintain a swimming pool, playground, and picnic area, and the stately mansion remains one of the most fascinating historic areas in the state of Nevada.

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