“home of the tea house!”
Looking for some adventure and intrigue to spice up your next trip to Lake Tahoe? Take a break from the casinos and the laying out on the beautiful beaches to go in search of the lake's Fannette Island, and its mysterious stone cottage-- it looks like something an evil witch might live in. If you're a little spooked by its crumbling appearance, don't stress! We can confirm that no evil hags have lived there... but the island's history is still incredibly fascinating! The building, as creepy as it may look, was actually a tea house, built by Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight, ex-wife of wealthy stockbroker Charles French Knight. She's best remembered today for building Vikingsholm, a Scandinavian-inspired castle along the shores of Lake Tahoe, as a summer home in 1928. And let's face it, if you were as rich as she was, you would totally build a tea house on an island in the lake to further impress your friends who were staying at your old-school castle estate. The remnants of the tea house, of which only the vandalized stone shell remains, aren't even the weirdest part of Fannette Island; that honor goes to 19th century seaman Captain Dick "Them's my toes" Barter. I kid you not. Captain Barter was an eccentric (the kind of guy who loved showing off his self-amputated toes) English sailor who built a chapel and tomb on the island. It seems fitting that such a strange man died such a mysterious death: he was lost to sea off Rubicon Point in 1873... he never got to use the tomb he built on the island, and Lora Knight swooped in to use it for her tea house. The best access point to reach Fannette Island is from Emerald Bay State Park You can take a kayak, paddle board, or a motor boat (like Lora Knight would have used)-- but swimming out there is forbidden, since it's cold and there are so many boats. It's easy to find a kayak or boat to rent, and it's well worth it to spend the afternoon exploring the mysterious-looking building, as well as the other nooks and crannies of the island, which has clearly attracted some of Tahoe's most unique characters. - Roadtrippers
It's really cool to boat out there and explore the island! You can rent kayaks and paddle boards or whatever and head right on over. Stop by Vikingsholm as well to get a better idea of what the tea house would have looked like back in its heyday!
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Fannette Island - Lake Tahoe
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