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One of Reno’s most well-known historical landmarks, the infamous Lake Mansion, has a bloody past that continues to be resurrected. With over 3,000 square feet of luxury living, including a stylish hipped roof and veranda branding, Lake Mansion’s exterior, try as it might, simply cannot disguise the nauseating atrocities that took place just through its front door.
Join the Reno Ghosts tour and unveil the chilling truths behind this grandiose residence, and learn why many consider it to be the most haunted house in Reno.
In the mid-19th century, eager settlers with dreams of finding gold and silver headed west to Nevada in what would go on to be known as the Gold Rush. Pioneers began crossing the Truckee River that runs through town, and in 1850, when gold was first found in Virginia City, just about 50 miles from here, Reno developed into a small mining community.
In the following decades, the Truckee River crossing would soon become very important for the mining industry and agriculture, creating a demand for new businesses, hotels, and restaurants. The area would only continue to grow after the introduction of the Central Pacific Railroad, which built a depot at Lake’s Crossing.
Reno continued its steady expansion as the city became the county seat in 1871, and the Virginia and Truckee Railroad reached here in 1872. During this time, Reno was the most important settlement on the railroad between Sacramento and Salt Lake City.
Widely considered one of Reno’s founding fathers, Myron Lake came to the Reno area in 1861. A sharp businessman with an eye for a good opportunity, Lake set his sights on the bridge that crossed the Truckee River to use on his 12-mile toll road, securing a 10-year franchise from the territory of Nevada.
He purchased the bridge and began charging horse riders 10 cents to cross it into town. He amassed a small fortune from this and would go on to pursue several other successful business endeavors, including building a hotel, a livery stable, and a barn, in addition to other investments. Truckee prompted the early settlement to be called “Lake’s Crossing” in honor of Myron.
Lake bought the newly-constructed, luxurious home at the corner of Virginia and California Streets from W.J. Marsh in 1897 with his new money. But behind locked doors, things weren’t so glamorous with Lake’s familial life. The enterprising businessman had a hot temper and a reputation for falling into lapses of extreme violence, especially when it came to his wife, Jane Bryant. A widow, Jane, and her four children were subjected to horrific abuse from Lake beginning as early as 1870. After accusing his wife of having an affair, Lake purchased this mansion to apologize for his ceaseless abuse.
However, things were so bad between the couple that Jane actually refused to move into the house. They would eventually file for divorce on the grounds of domestic battery and cruelty. Jane inherited the mansion after taking Lake’s second wife, Mary Ann, to court for ownership after Lake passed away in 1884. By 1899, however, Jane could no longer support herself or the house. She was forced to sell it in 1902 and died a year later.
With all of the tears, suffering, and agony that occurred within these cursed walls, it’s no wonder that the ghosts of its past haunt this nearly 150-year-old home. The very foundation of Lake Mansion is essentially built on tragedy and heartbreak, leaving no bedroom, no shadowy corridor, and no inch of land untouched by misery and pain. These lingering sentiments have cast a dark energy over the home…one that visitors can still feel to this day.
This house has been sold to new owners several times, but they often pack their bags and rush out the door upon realizing how sinister the spirits of Lake Mansion can be. Local legend says that the Lake Mansion has had some strange phenomena over the years, from cold spots to eerie, unexplained noises, to the ghostly apparitions floating around. One author says that the home is definitely haunted by Myron Lake, who was ironically never allowed to live in it despite being its most famous owner.
Perhaps the most sighted ghost at Lake Mansion is Jane Bryant’s. Evidently, Bryant calls this place home even from beyond the grave, and her unhappy spirit has yet to move out. Perhaps, Bryant feels as if she still has unfinished business here on earth after enduring a lengthy court battle to take possession of the property—only to die shortly after.
Her wispy apparition can be often seen looking out windows, refusing to let go of the grandiose estate she fought so hard for. Regardless of her reasoning, phantoms of Lake Mansion’s past continue to make themselves known, attached to this historic property for eternity.
In 1971, Lake Mansion was moved three miles south to what is now the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in order to avoid demolition. It was moved again in 2004, three miles north to its current location at Arlington Avenue and Court Street. The residence was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, ensuring its continued conservation and preservation.
Today, Lake Mansion is known as the Lake Mansion Arts and Cultural Center and has been owned and managed by Arts for All Nevada since 2007. For more on some of America’s most haunted residences, visit our blog, and be sure to keep up with US Ghost Adventures on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.