Last Great Family-Owned Old Tahoe Estate Now On Sale

Posted by Amanda Spitsen — November 19, 2007

LAKE TAHOE, Nev. – (Nov. 20, 2007) – Built in the era of the Ehrman Mansion, Vikingsholm and Thunderbird Lodge, the Drum House is the last classic waterfront estate available for private ownership. With 10 acres and almost 750 feet of lakeshore frontage, the Drum House and surrounding estate is a time capsule dating back to its 1924 origins. This amazing home has been family-owned since it was built in the 1920s. The property is currently on the market listed through Chase International at $36.5 million, and its destiny is yet to be determined. The home’s rich history, however, is a sure bet.John Drum, President of the American Trust Company, which later merged into Wells Fargo Bank, originally purchased the lakefront property in 1923. Located in Meeks Bay, the property is wrapped around a crescent of shoreline that the Drums christened “Chinkapin Cove.” His wife, Georgina S. Drum, commissioned notable San Francisco architect G. Albert Lansburgh to build the home.  Lansburgh is famous for designing theaters across the nation, including the Warfield and Orpheum theaters in San Francisco as well as homes in the Pacific Heights district of San Francisco. Lansburgh also designed the Drum’s primary residence in San Francisco. The Drum’s West Shore property on Lake Tahoe was titled “The John S. Drum Chalet” and the drawings, pencil sketches and original photos of the home are housed in U.C. Berkeley’s Architectural Archives collection.The Drum family owned the property from 1923 to 1961. The main structure was built with Port Orford cedar logs, shipped down from Oregon, an unusual practice during that time as most homes were built with local lumber. This type of cedar was selected because it is particularly rot-resistant and would stand the test of time.Much of the home’s original charm, materials and history have been preserved. Ox yolks from the oxen that pulled the lumber around the property hang on display above the patio. Nearby, a secluded outdoor barbecue area sits on a ridge overlooking the property where the contractor, Matt Green, and his crew ate their meals and camped during the construction. Matt Green was the same contractor who would later build Vikingsholm at Emerald Bay, which is now a California State Park. The original bathing house with private indoor dressing rooms is still on the pier and ready for use. Select pieces of the Drum’s furnishings remain on the property including a set of wicker furniture seen in an original photo of the home. An old-fashioned radio programmed with San Francisco’s original AM stations sits in the living room where the Drum family would show movies to their guests. Avid antique collectors, the Drums acquired a set of fireplace andirons originally from Hearst Castle that sits inside the massive living room fireplace today and where rare game trophy heads hang from the walls.The Drum family was famous for their parties at the property. One guest of note was Charles Lindbergh who, while visiting in the summer 1927 just a few months after his historic flight, rescued three female sightseers from their sinking boat just off shore, making local headlines. The Jonsson Family, current owners of the Drum House, also attended the Drums’ extravagant affairs. Erik Jonsson, ex-mayor of Dallas and founder of Texas Instruments, fell in love with Lake Tahoe and the Drum house and purchased the home from John Drum, Jr. in 1961. Later, he purchased the neighboring lot to the North that had been formerly parceled and sold by the Drums. Additional buildings are located on this property.The Drum House has been in the Jonsson family since the early 1960s and has been preserved and enjoyed for many generations. The property currently includes the 10-bedroom Main House designed by Lansburgh, two Lakefront 2-bedroom Cottages, one single-bedroom Cottage, a modern four-bedroom Lakefront Home, two piers, three buoys, a lakefront tennis court and a 100-foot on-shore Boat House with rails to the lake. The lots are secluded and full of old-growth cedar and pine trees, and bordered by Sugar Pine Point State Park on the North and East sides. Views of Meeks Bay, Rubicon Peak, Mt. Tallac and the eastern and south shores of Lake Tahoe are stunning. To fully appreciate this history-rich property, contact listing agent Trinkie Watson at 800-783-0722.Headquartered in Lake Tahoe, Nevada since 1986, with seven offices in the region (Zephyr Cove, Glenbrook, Incline Village, Tahoe City, Truckee, South Lake Tahoe and Reno) and one in London, England, Chase International and its exclusive affiliations handles a large share of the country’s property. Currently Chase International has one of the top five most expensive properties ever listed in the nation – Tranquility, located at Lake Tahoe, for $100 million.With more than 140 professional REALTORS® boasting an array of industry certifications and the highest volume per sales agent in the area, Chase International successfully represents homes at all price levels. For more information about Chase International visit

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