Hammargren House Faces Foreclosure

Looking down at the backyard of the Hammargren House with Sandhill Rd in the background.
Photo by Osie Turner

One of Las Vegas’ most unusual landmarks may be coming to an end. The Hammargren Home of Nevada History or Castillo del Sol, commonly known among locals simply as the Hammargren House, may be facing foreclosure.

If you are new to Vegas, you may be wondering, what exactly is the Hammargren House? Located off of Sandhill and Flamingo, the insane assortment of oddities which fill the backyard of the complex can be seen over the tall wall. The thing is, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Inside, nearly every square inch of a three house museum/collection/home is filled with art, movie props, presidential memorabilia, random things from casinos—there is really no way to describe it.

The iron lung and Egyptian tomb that was supposed to be the final resting place of Lonnie Hammargren.
Photo by Osie Turner

The Hammargren House began in 1971 as the home of Lonnie Hammargren. Now retired, Hammargren was the first neurosurgeon in Las Vegas and later served as the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Nevada. Hammargren began collecting unusual items and the collection never stopped growing, eventually expanding to both of the houses neighboring the original house.

Unfortunately, as the Las Vegas Review Journal reported last week, the original house is now facing bank foreclosure due to a delinquent second mortgage that was taken out on the building. The other two houses have already been paid off and are safe; however, all three houses have undergone expansions and are sort of all one house now, so this will be a complicated process indeed.

This is possibly the world’s oldest gondola,
as it appears inside the Hammargren House.
Photo by Osie Turner

At 79 years of age, losing your home is a terrible reality to face. In this case, it is considerably more complicated than usual. Hammargren planned to be buried underneath this house in a custom made crypt. Specifically, he planned to be interred inside a vintage iron lung within the Egyptian themed underground chamber.

Besides the tomb, there have been a few other modifications to the main over the years. A rotating bed, Liberace’s staircase, and a rooftop observatory are the highlights, not to mention the second floor enclosed bridges that connect the main house to the other two houses.

And then there’s the gondola room where a two hundred year old Venetian gondola—possibly the oldest existing gondola in the world—can be found. The room was modified to accommodate the 37 foot boat by moving walls and altering the ceiling.

Essentially, at this point there is no way to undo all of the changes the original house has undergone over the last forty years. Some of the smaller items in the collection are going up for auction in order to begin clearing out the house and raise some money for the Hammargren family.

The High Roller roller coaster that used to be atop the Stratosphere.
Photo by Osie Turner

For the past 21 years or so, Hammargren has opened the doors of his private collection of the bizarre to the public for one weekend in late October or early November in honor of Nevada Day. Hopefully last year will not be the last, but with a looming foreclosure the future of The Hammargren House of Nevada History remains uncertain.

The Hammargren House is located at 4300 Ridgecrest Drive, just west of Sandhill Road. If you want to try to see some of the collection before it is lost, turn north on Sandhill from Harmon Avenue and watch the left side of the road; you will definitely know it when you see it! The backyard wall faces the street and you can catch a glimpse of the wonderful randomness which is the Hammargren House.


3 responses on “Hammargren House Faces Foreclosure

  1. In my personal opinion, Lonnie Hammargren has a history of molding truth into something that works for him, and news of this “foreclosure” may or might not be 100% accurate. More importantly, even if there was a foreclosure action on the part of a 2nd mortgage holder, the underlying loan would prevent any sort of foreclosure sale (unless he has defaulted on that too.) And there is no scenario that I can think of where a holder of a second mortgage note would want to take possession of a house that is physically attached to another dwelling. This “news” seems more like a publicity gambit to put pressure on the holder of the 2nd mortgage than anything else. I could be wrong, of course, but time will tell…

  2. You definitely raise some good points, Mark. I don’t really have any comment on the character of Hammargren outside of that he quite obviously loves attention, but I do like the idea of the house. I love that oddball items from our city’s past have accumulated in place. Plus it makes me nostalgic; I remember seeing the space suit hung from a crane amidst what looked like walkways and god knows what else poking above the wall when I was a kid.

    From a realty point of view, I see how what he has done there has actually lowered the value of the property though. Not many people would want to own the place, and the modifications he’s done would likely not be up to code. It probably would be best for the complex and collection itself if it were taken over by an outside organization. I would like to see it turned into an actual museum where the place is cleaned up and most importantly organized into something akin to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, but there would be major obstacles involved and it probably will never happen.

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