Wide Open Spaces
With more buyers seeking classic and historic mountain properties in the Lake Tahoe and Truckee region, we take a closer look at some of the most significant legacy ranches, lodges and waterfront homes currently on the market.
By: Kevin Daniel Dwyer
In the past decade, new mountain architecture has been defined by contemporary styles with clean lines and stark materials. Gated communities in Tahoe are brimming with these designs. As with any trend, a response to the contemporary movement is taking hold in the form of a return to authenticity. Buyers are now looking to the past—back to the classic style of mountain homes, characterized by softer materials, natural textures, warm spaces and most importantly, immediate access to pristine nature.
With this shift, many buyers long for homes outside of the amenity-driven communities, where they can find a connection to the land—a simple and uncomplicated existence. A picturesque setting is a crucial element of that dream. Legacy ranches, historic properties and homes with an immediate connection to the land are making a comeback.
“It has been amazing to see the shift in buyers’ tastes in the last year. Of course, many of my buyers are still looking for contemporary homes and man-made amenities, but a large group is choosing an old cabin on a lake, or a nostalgic lodge with acreage. Whatever their tastes, the main goal is to create a place for their family to come together,” says Jeff Hamilton of the Overall & Hamilton Group, one of the top-producing teams at Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty.
Hamilton, along with partner Breck Overall, currently has an array of the finest legacy ranches and historic properties in the greater Tahoe-Truckee region. A prime example is the world-class estate, Taspen Ranch, perched at 7,000 feet in the Martis Peak area of Truckee. Taspen Ranch is an authentic mountain retreat set on approximately 60 acres in a forested bowl with miles of views and a year-round aspen-lined stream. The setting is enhanced by a reclaimed antebellum barn main house and two additional period barns, which serve as the guest house and pool house.
Away from the hassle of resort crowds, the property offers the quiet of earlier times and rare unobstructed forest, stream and mountain views from the estate, as well as striking views of Northstar Ski Resort and several Truckee reservoirs from the property’s higher elevations. Historic Juniper Creek is complete with brook trout and beavers, 2,000 year old juniper trees, and one of Tahoe’s rare mature aspen groves. It’s one of the most diverse plant life and wildlife rich areas in the Sierras.
The allure of Taspen Ranch changes with the seasons. Spring offers the sound of rushing water and smells of abundant sage, mules ear and wildflowers. Summer is busy with the sights and sounds of eagles, woodpeckers, chipmunks, beavers, porcupines, foxes, lynxes and black bears. Fall is crisp like the rocky outcroppings and warm like the amber aspens. And Winter is stunning white with snow-covered trees and mountains against vivid blue sky. The unspoiled beauty and peacefulness of Taspen Ranch is protected by watershed development restrictions and surrounding Tahoe National Forest lands. It’s like having a National Park all to yourself.
Although the area is a well-kept secret, Taspen Ranch it is ideally located between Interstate 80 and Lake Tahoe, only a short 20 minute drive to the Truckee Airport, 45 minutes to the Reno Airport, 90 minutes to Sacramento and a 3-4 hour drive to San Francisco Bay Area locations. The serene retreat is listed for $8,100,000.
It appears the return to the land and desire for wide-open spaces is becoming a trend in itself. “More and more buyers are placing a higher emphasis on criteria like open space, privacy, access to trails and outdoor activities without having to get into their cars. The idea of opening your door and stepping out into nature is captivating to many of our buyers,” says Overall. “Lakefront homes and large acreage properties with room to explore and discover are ideal matches for these types of buyers.”
Overall & Hamilton also have historic Cedar Crest Cottages, a hunting lodge circa 1933 consisting of eight cottages and a main house sited on approximately an acre of land a few minutes’ walk from Lake Tahoe’s west shore. The structures were revived and remodeled beginning in 2010 by the current owners, who worked side-by-side with the historic society to make sure to preserve the integrity of the exteriors. The result was a complete refresh and an exact replication of the exteriors; the roofs, siding, front doors and windows are just as they used to look. The footprint of each cottage is the same, but the interiors have been modernized to create a simple/modern, yet Tahoe feel. The compound is listed for $8,450,000.
Another trophy mountain estate known as Crystal Lake, is an approximately 210 acre property featuring a five bedroom lodge with hot tub and tennis court on the shores of a completely private alpine lake. The estate adjoins the Tahoe National Forest, allowing unlimited hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and exploring with recreational vehicles. The private lake is deep, crystal clear, and perfect for swimming and fishing, while the shoreline is composed of sandy beaches, exposed granite outcroppings and ancient Native American petroglyphs. Overall & Hamilton Group has the lakefront gem priced upon request.
Martis Valley Ranch, a legacy 40± acre property held by the original family since the 1860s, has also just come to market, listed for $3,300,000. The ranch’s two homes—one of which is a historic stone cottage—are fed by a natural spring and tucked away in the heart of Martis Valley. The ranch has been used as summer grazing grounds for the Joerger family’s cattle. Artifacts, such as spear points and chippings left by the Martis people, have been found on the property and are estimated to be two to three thousand years old. Members of the Washoe Tribe, who were present in the Martis Valley until the 1910s, used the land as a summer encampment, fishing for Lahontan cutthroat trout in Martis Creek and hunting for deer. The ranch presents an unprecedented opportunity to own a true living legacy.
“Representing exceptional and unique properties such as these family legacy assets that have maintained historical or cultural significance over multiple generations is a job we take very seriously. We understand how rare and highly desirable properties are,” says Overall. G
Overall & Hamilton Group
Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty
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