"Fixer-upper" is quite a sight | TahoeDailyTribune.com

"Fixer-upper" is quite a sight

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune
Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily TribuneRori Cosma leads a tour of Sierra House Elementary school third-graders on a tour of the Vikingsholm grounds.

Amid a summer restoration project at Vikingsholm castle, four pods of Sierra House Elementary School students learned about spikes, ghosts and cheap insulation.

The third-graders were led around the grounds by tour guides polishing their presentation skills before the castle opens to the public Memorial Day weekend.

“I learned they had spikes on top of the roof so the spirits would pop,” said Payton Guttry, 9. “Ms. Knight found the idea for the spikes from churches in France and England.”

Lora Josephine Knight built the stone structure, modeled after buildings in Scandinavia, on the shore of Emerald Bay in 1929 as a summer residence for herself and a 15-member staff. In 1953 Vikingsholm was sold to the state by a Placerville lumberman and remains a superior example of Scandinavian architecture in the United States.

Four California State Parks laborers were working on restoring Vikingsholm’s courtyard while students looked on. Crouching on plastic knee pads, the workers would pick a flagstone and arrange the piece to fit into the circular driveway.

Rosemary Yracheta likened the task to picking pieces for a puzzle. The repaving began last June with removing the uneven flagstones that would often trip up visitors.

The rocks were mapped with numbers, the ground was made even and the repaving should be done by June, Yracheta said.

Guide Marsha Ward-Hudson showed students the courtyard behind yellow caution tape. She looked up and solicited students for the reason why the roof was covered in sod.

“To feed their cows?” one student offered.

A sodded roof provides cheap insulation for peasants, Ward-Hudson answered.

Rori Cosma, dressed in a Great Gatsby costume, was responsible for giving an outside tour of the castle.

“It’s the same questions every time. ‘Is there a body in the basement and are there ghosts in the attic?,'” he said with a smile.

Desi Johnston, 10, walked around with his classmates in his favorite red sunglasses enjoying the field trip.

“I like the Vikings and I like catching bugs,” he said. “I’ve caught spiders and centipedes today.”

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