He keeps telling us this year is the last year. That’s it, No More! But once again, retired neurosurgeon, NASA flight surgeon, and former Nevada Lieutenant Governor Lonnie Hammargren has opened his house turned Nevada History museum, for all to visit. Lonnie has more Las Vegas history in his possession than almost any museum on earth. He used to just ask for a donation to his favorite Nevada Youth Charity, but this year there is a $15 door charge for adults (worth every penny!)
In 2006, The Vegas Tourist team went for a simple 15-minute visit and interview (our first) that ended up being a 4-hour private tour of his homes and possessions. Trust me, we just got to see about 10% of the collection!! It’s amazing. The podcast of the interview is attached.
Below is a post we made in 2010, when Lonnie said it was his last open House. For details on this year’s open house, here is a link to the Las Vegas Sun article
October 18, 2010
We all knew this day would come, we just weren’t sure when it would. And now that day is here. Vietnam flight surgeon, retired neurosurgeon, former lieutenant governor and Vegas mega pack-rat, Lonnie Hammargren gave in to his whiny neighbors. Lonnie promised that October 31st would be his last Nevada Day Open House
Lonnie has opened his home(s) to the public every year to celebrate Nevada Day – October 31… the day Nevada became a state. Yes, Halloween is considered a state holiday!
So consider this your warning: For anyone who has a fixation on Las Vegas, this may be the last time for you to take a very, unique trip down Vegas history. A trip down memory lane with the man who lived it or knew the people who did it!
To refresh your memory, this is the man who in 2007 held a funeral for himself after his bypass surgery, because he wanted to hear what everyone would say about him after he died. The funeral was complete with a Mardi Gras jazz band that marched the funeral procession to his house for a “wake” and celebration that made world news.
- His second-floor observatory was subpoenaed in a divorce case
- Yes, that is the roller coaster from the Stratosphere you see sitting in the backyard
- If it’s Vegas history and not in a museum, chances are you will find it here!
On a personal note, Lonnie Hammargren was the very first person we ever interviewed for The Vegas Tourist. And still the most memorable interview. For us, it was supposed to be a quick fifteen-minute interview, which turned into an hour-long interview. After which we followed Lonnie on a personal tour through a forty-year collection of memorabilia. Most of it Vegas focused, with a touch of other fascinating stuff he collected from his trips around the world.
If it isn’t in a local museum, you may want to look for it over at Lonnie’s place. Or on second thought, just check Lonnie’s place first. Parts of the stratosphere roller coaster? Check. The Dunes Hotel welcome sign? Yup, it’s here. Authentic Space Shuttle mock-up? It’s here. Liberace’s staircase? You just walked up it. Walk it up to the observatory and see why a divorce judge wanted to see the observatory. Looking for the “crapper” from the Howard Hughes suite at the Frontier? Got it.
It’s not just one house filled to the rafters, it’s actually a three home residence complex called “Casa Del Sol,” connected by his always-growing eclectic collection of Vegas centered and world renowned items aka or junk!
So What’s the Problem?
The politically connected neighbors. Most of them have moved into the neighborhood after he started his collection and now complain that he is a nuisance to the neighborhood and they want it stopped. They want “their” quiet neighborhood to be left alone from all the gawkers and the embarrassment of saying they live next door to the infamous Vegas pack rat!
This obviously is not a view shared by many people outside of his neighborhood. Ask most people who have been there about it and the common answer is “Move!”
A logical answer I must agree with.
Here is Our Interview with Lonnie Hammargren in 2006: Enjoy!