Handmade Return

Aaaaand we’re back.  A lovely hiatus up in Lake Tahoe where many lovely things happened in a lovely way, but let’s get to the handmade stuff.  Today we’ll look at Vikingsholm, a magnificent work of craftsmanship poised at the head of Emerald Bay.  Child Harbat and I arrived by boat, the preferred way to come to Vikingsholm, as its stately towers and graceful rooflines are slowly revealed as you approach the treed shore.

Turquoise waters lap up on a sandy beach, tricking the eye into thinking you’re in the warmer latitudes until you see massive pines and a stone and timber home that seems to have been lifted in whole from someplace ending in a –vik or –fjord, a place where rosy-cheeked fishermen drill through eight feet of ice to take a restorative swim.  This is Vikingsholm, a Scandinavian dream built by Lora Josephine Knight in 1929.

Imagine this place being built in early 1929 when the Jazz Age and feeling of bonhomie seemed unstoppable.  Then the market crashed and the world went into depression and World War II, yet Vikingsholm continued to host guests in what must’ve seemed like the very precipice of civilization.  Indeed when you stand on the shore and look out through the narrow entrance to Emerald Bay and beyond to the snow-capped peaks rising above the celestial blue waters of Lake Tahoe, it’s hard to imagine anyplace you’d rather be.  Child Harbat and I often found ourselves looking back across the water as we wandered the grounds, like you glance up at a full moon throughout the evening to be renewed in your awe.

All the timbers were hewn and fittings forged on-site by craftsmen working to recreate Ms. Knight’s Scandinavian dream, though she was English herself.  The touch of the craftsman is still obvious at this place, despite eighty winters of head-high snow and summers of crisp aridity.

Nature too is a craftsman here, providing green texture and folly to the roof of one building.

For any aspiring architect you can find little better study of contrast in texture, weight, color, and form that all works together to form a whole that is of nature and not just in it.  You can’t get much more handmade than this place.

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