The historic Pope House gets a floor makeover |

The historic Pope House gets a floor makeover

Charley Williamson
A woman sits in a rocking chair looking out the window in an early photo at the Pope House. The photo was taken in the room that is getting a new floor.

The historic Pope House on the Tallac Historic Site is in the process of receiving a new section of oak flooring in the living room. A portion of the floor was damaged by water from a roof leak before the site was first opened to the public. In most houses, installing a new floor would be an easy project. I n the case of the Pope House, where everything must be as authentic as possible to the original historic construction, putting in a new floor is a major task.

The red oak was custom milled in Sacramento to match the original in both thickness and width. After installation, which is in progress, the floor will be sanded and finished to make it as indistinguishable from the old as possible.

Two volunteers at Tallac, Jerry Lewis of Green Valley, Ariz., and Robert Rose of Reno, Nev., have taken on the flooring project. Both are retired. Lewis retired from doing find woodworking for a builder of church and concert hall organs, while Rose retired from a position of math professor at a junior college. He then served in teaching positions in Istanbul, Turkey, Costa Rica and Aberdeen, Scotland.

The new flooring is one of the final projects in a three-year interior restoration project of the Pope House. Many changes have been made to interpret the house more accurately as it appeared in the early 1900s.

Through research with Pope family members, the curtains surrounding the room have been replicated using similar materials and a local curtain maker. Their old photos also showed a “surround,” which was used as a bench in front of the fireplace in the living room. A local metalworker / welder was able to make an authentic copy of this missing piece.

The Tallac Historic Site, under the ownership and operation of the U.S. Forest Service, is located at the south end of Lake Tahoe on Highway 89. There is no admission charge to visit the site. There is a slight charge for the guided daily tours of the Pope House.

The project would not have been possible without the support of generous donors to the Tahoe Heritage Foundation. If you would like to know about this and other projects at Tallac, contact the foundation at (530) 544-7834 or visit their Web site at

The volunteers

Jerry Lewis and Robert Rose are among 12 to 16 volunteers who come to Tallac to work on historic preservation and maintaining the site on six-week sessions. They all have recreational vehicles to live in, which they park at a special site reserved just for them.

There are four sessions each summer, with volunteers working four-days on, three-days off schedule. They come from all over the U.S. Many come from California, Nevada and Arizona, but they have also come from Alabama, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon and Texas. Some have been returning for more than 10 years.

Besides this group, 10 to 20 local volunteers come to the site each week to act as greeters, sell tickets, work in the gardens and help with the restoration and maintenance. They work from a few hours to several days a week as their schedule allows. Additional volunteers are needed. Anyone interested should call Coleen at (530) 541-5227.

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