Nevada—especially Las Vegas and its surrounding areas— has some of the most unusual and quirkiest houses. From millionaire Tony Hsieh’s luxury RV to Wayne Newton’s former mansion to Lonnie Hammargren’s iconic and mind-blowing museum house, these unusual Nevada houses have backstories as intriguing as their appearances. Take a look at these 10 unusual Nevada houses and their unique backstories.
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1. Castillo del Sol/Lonnie Hammargren's Museum House, Las Vegas
This, shall we say interesting, house, located at 4318 Ridgecrest, is so bizarre, I had to add another picture (although 50 pictures wouldn't be enough to showcase just how odd this house is.) The (pun intended) brain child of retired brain surgeon and former Nevada Lieutenant Governor Lonnie Hammargren epitomizes the term "hoarder" with his strange, unusual, and LARGE collection of, um, stuff. In fact, Hammargren used to offer tours but following complaints from his neighbors from lack of street parking, these tours are on hiatus. However, you can still see the oddities on the roof, the back of the house over the large wall, and the large Godzilla in the front yard. This house has so many eccentricities, it's like something from a Twilight Zone episode. Seriously, do an Internet search and check out the dozens of pictures.
2. The Underground House, Las Vegas
Built in the 1970s by Jerry B. Henderson for nuclear disaster prevention, this 5,000-square-foot, two-bedroom, three-bathroom house located at 3970 Spencer Street near Flamingo Road, is built completely underneath a regular house. This unique house (or, rather, bunker) sits 26 feet below the surface and boasts a four-hole putting green a, pool and two whirlpools, a sauna, a bar, a barbecue pit, a casita, a dance floor with a small stage, fake trees and flowers, elevators, fire alarm systems, and a house-wide intercom, Of particular interest is the chimney that is disguised as a tree and the interior lighting system where one can choose day, sunset, or night.
3. Casa de Shenandoah, Las Vegas
This luxurious mansion was "Mr. Vegas" Wayne Newton's home for over 50 years. As such, this stunning mansion sits on 52 acres at 3310 Sunset Road. Open to the public for tours, visitors can see his gorgeous house full of memorabilia, artwork, and other intriguing collectibles; garages full of vintage automobiles and Newton's private jet; and his lush green yard with trees, waterfalls, Arabian horse stables, his Capuchin monkey and penguin pets, and peacocks. As would be expected, there is even a Wayne Newton gift shop on the premises for some interesting souvenirs. Oh yeah, and this house is rumored to be haunted.
4. Pirates Cove, Boulder City
Located at 604 Lido Drive in Boulder City near Lake Mead, this privately owned, expansive, and unusual house is owned by the Tillotson family. Nearly 25 years ago, Craig Tillotson purchased a modest stucco home and let his imagination run wild. As a result, his soon-to-be family vacation home has become quite a residence. This huge and quirky house features 23 bedrooms, four full kitchens, three swimming pools with two water slides, two outdoor bars, poolside pizza oven, theater, full gym with basketball and racquetball courts, fire pits, misting system, 50,000-gallon swimming pool, and an assortment of pirate-related scenery and paraphernalia. It is used today as a family retreat.
5. Hartland Mansion, Las Vegas
Constructed at 1044 So. 6th Street and 525 Park Paseo as two separate houses in the 1940's, this stunning mansion was ultimately born in the 1970's. This enormous house covers 31,000 square feet and is truly the epitome of a classy and glamorous Las Vegas mansion. Boasting eight bedrooms and 13 bathrooms (nine full and four half baths), this house features an Elvis room, a velvet room, and its grand party room with an indoor pool and garden. Further, Hartland Mansion was also used in the film "Casino", Willie Nelson performed here, and other celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Ronald Reagan, among others. have visited. The spectacular house has also been the site of numerous Vegas weddings.
6. Airstream Village, Las Vegas
Zillionaire and Zappos CEO/Downtown Project founder Tony Hsieh lives in a 1930's-era Airstream RV, albeit a truly spiffy, luxurious one in the unique Airstream Park along with his two pet llamas Marley and Triton. This RV park is part of Hsieh's $350 million investment into downtown Las Vegas (which also includes
Downtown Container Park
.) Hsieh rents out the other 200-square-foot Airstream RVs, each of which has wood paneling, stainless steel appliances, Bluetooth stereo system and TVs. Interestingly, you really wouldn't think that the RVs in this park are as spectacular as they are on the inside.
7. Parisian Palace, Las Vegas
Purchased in 2005 by Italian-American restaurateur, entrepreneur, and designer Nico Santucci, after a major renovation this beyond amazing eight-bedroom, nine-bathroom palace sits at 6150 Palmyra. From gold-plated bathroom fixtures to a stunning Italian marble staircase to seven hand-carved cherry fireplaces to to an all-marble master bathroom to 12 imported crystal chandeliers, this palace is truly the epitome of luxury. This stunning mansion was originally built by developer William Gohres for his wife in the 1980's. Its original name was "Villa de Reve," meaning "Our dream home." Sadly, the house was foreclosed upon in 2005 and Santucci bought it for a modest $2.8 million. Santucci refers to the Parisian Palace as his trophy home.
8. The Real-Life Simpsons' House, Henderson
Constructed in 1997 at 712 Red Bark Lane, this rather nondescript house was built as part of a Pepsi and Fox Network advertising campaign. This four-bedroom, 2,200-square-foot house was built to resemble exactly the iconic house from the popular television cartoon "The Simpsons." It even featured over 1,000 Simpsons props. Sadly, however, the contest winner opted for the $75,000 cash prize instead and the house remained vacant until 2001. The house's new owner repainted it and removed all of the Simpsons paraphernalia.
9. Tom Kelly's Bottle House, Rhyolite
Located in the ghost town of Rhyolite, this unique house was built in 1905 from over 50,000 glass bottles collected from local saloons, and held together with adobe mud. Even though the town died out after the gold rush around 1920, this house continues to attract attention from film producers and tourists.
For more information, check out my previous article on this unique house.
10. The Slammer, Las Vegas
This crazy, whimsical, candy-colored house used to belong to magician Penn Jillette who nicknamed it The Slammer. Originally an A-frame house in the middle of the desert, Jillette built around it into what it is today (although it was, sadly, recently demolished.) Its features include a real prison toilet, at least one firehouse pole, secret rooms, a soundproof recording studio, an outdoor catwalk, and an automatic chain-linked driveway entry. According to Realtor Robb Breen, Jillette himself described his eccentric home as having been designed by a 12-year-old with an unlimited budget. Regardless of its interesting birth, the United Church of Bacon was rumored to have been in the market to purchase it; however, this never reached fruition.
Additional unusual Nevada houses—honorable mentions if you will—for which I couldn’t locate any non-copyrighted photographs include
Castle Rancho, Phil Ruffin’s estate Primm Mansion, illusionist extraordinaire Criss Angel’s Serenity, and famous mobster Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal’s house. Check them out—you won’t be sorry.
Have you seen any of these unusual Nevada houses up close and personal? Do you know of any I may have forgotten? Please share your comments below.