Home » Ghost Tour Locations » Reno » The Levy Mansion
The historic Levy Mansion provides a unique glimpse into what life was like during the early days of Reno for upper-class families. But behind closed doors, this elegant, otherwise unsuspecting property hides a secret, sordid history that remains resurrected. Why?
Because many claim that the Levy Mansion is actually haunted by the phantoms of its past residents…two of which died within the home’s seemingly cursed walls. Join the Reno Ghosts tour to uncover the chilling truths behind this opulent 20th-century estate and learn why many consider it to be one of the most haunted residences in all of Nevada.
In the days of the Old West, business opportunities outside of mining and farming were scarce. But as more and more settlers headed west in hopes of striking gold, mining “boom” towns began popping up throughout modern-day Idaho, Arizona, California, and of course, Nevada.
With this new influx of people came a demand for goods and services, which was only encouraged by the addition of the brand-new Central Pacific Railroad. Passing through Reno at Lake’s Crossing presented a massive economic opportunity for those looking to profit off of Reno’s growing population. And many, including Wilhelm “William” Levy, took advantage.
Born Wilhelm Levy, this German immigrant came to the United States in the late 19th century. After operating dry goods stores in a couple of “boom towns” across Nevada, William moved to Reno in 1887 alongside his business partner, Jacob Morris.
Together, they would go on to amass a small fortune thanks to some lucrative mining company investments, leading them to rent a first-class dry goods shop in downtown Reno. In 1895, William expanded to his own Palace Dry Goods Store on East Second Street, which offered two stories of items and two large plate-glass windows where window shoppers could browse the goods for sale.
On a business trip, William met Tillie Goldsmith, who he married in 1895. He adopted her Jewish faith, and the couple would go on to have two daughters together—Fritzi and Mildred. The Levy family often traveled back and forth to San Francisco, but once William was finished purchasing supplies for his store in California, he relocated his wife, daughters, and mother-in-law to Reno in 1906.
He commissioned a grand, three-story house in the Classical Revival style for his family to live in on South Sierra Street. The Levys lived in relative harmony until 1912, when Tillie’s mother, Sophie, succumbed to cancer inside the home. From then on, things would only get stranger. William suffered a stroke and passed away in his sleep in 1920, leaving the family shattered. The devastation would only continue when, in 1938, Tillie died suddenly at the age of 68 during one of her trips to San Francisco.
At least two individuals have died inside the Levy Mansion, so it’s not surprising that this home is a sort of hub for otherworldly activity. It became apparent that there were other inhabitants inside the building than just business professionals after the property was converted into a spa during the 1980s.
The owners of Metro Day Spa frequently complained of feeling an eerie, unseen presence throughout the home, which also had mysterious “cold spots” and breezes on the upper floors. There’s also a general sense of unease that can be felt throughout the building, and some people have even developed headaches when they were in the attic or cellar.
After they were called in, a paranormal team found shocking evidence during their investigation, in which they reported strong EVP readings and hot spots. They also saw numerous, wispy orbs floating throughout the space—a telltale sign of an otherworldly presence.
The team discovered many ghosts, including that of a young boy who succumbed to an unknown disease or fever. A thin figure wearing a dark suit was also spotted during their search, and the spirits of two 10-year-old girls…the terrifying remnants of this home’s tormented past.
One of Levy Mansion’s most intriguing stories actually has nothing to do with its resident ghosts but rather the daughters of its original owner. You see after their parents had died, Fritzi and Mildred Levy were given ownership of their childhood home. Fritzi wanted nothing to do with the property, as she’d become disillusioned with Reno and had no desire to return after marrying a successful, San Francisco-based doctor.
Mildred, on the other hand, continued to reside in the Levy family mansion. The sisters came to an agreement and decided to divide the property right down the middle; Mildred could continue living in the home on one side, while Fritzi would inherit the empty property on the other. The only problem was a portion of the home also sat on Fritzi’s half.
As a solution, Mildred contacted a house mover to pick the structure up, rotate it 90 degrees, and move it over a bit so that it faced California Avenue instead. This is why the Levy House is often listed as having two historical addresses—a funny reminder of this building’s past.
Mildred never married and called this place home until her death in 1978. Fritzi would pass away in 1988, bringing an end to the Levy family legacy in Reno. Oddly enough, none of their gravestones, which were said to all be located in San Francisco, can’t be found.
Today, the Levy House is owned by the Nevada Museum of Art, which has since leased the building to Sundance Books and Music. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 and continues to be one of Reno’s most culturally-significant landmarks.
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