Between Reno and Carson City, Nevada resides the historic Bowers Mansion. Named for Eilley Bowers and her husband Lemuel "Sandy" Bowers, the mansion has one of the most fascinating histories in the state.
Originally hailing from Scotland, Eilley began her professional career in Gold Hill, Nevada running a boarding house. But what she was really known for was her psychic abilities. She offered fortunetelling and crystal ball-gazing services to the residents of the mining town. While some men didn't have actual cash, they gave Bowers mining claims as payment, which allowed her to build up a personal fortune.
Eilley was on her third husband with Sandy Bowers and already had some land she had kept in the divorce from her second husband. Three hundred twenty acres to be exact. She wanted to build an incredible home, unlike anything in Nevada. To say that Sandy and Eilley hit it big is an understatement. They had claims in the 1859 silver boom in Gold Hill and Virginia City which was the most precious silver ore in the state. They were swimming in dough.
The Bowers spent months and months traveling abroad and paid today's equivalent of over $2 million buying furnishings for their mansion. They even adopted a daughter, Margaret Persia. Things were looking good for the family, and they were on top of the world with an elegant home and immense wealth. Eilley Bowers was one of the most successful women in the state of Nevada and the state's first millionaire. When it was all said and done the total cost of the mansion, and its furnishings were close to $6 million today. It even has hand-crafted marble fireplaces.
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and they did not end well for the Bowers' family. They had gone into severe debt, partially because Sandy was just a stand-up guy who kept paying his workers even though they weren't making a profit. By 1874 Sandy and Persia had passed away and the mining industry was going downhill. Eilley went back to her boarding house days by opening up her mansion and had picnic areas where she would host local organizations and residents. Most notably, she was passionate about the women's suffrage movement and would host frequent gatherings to support women's rights. Eilley even invested in an expansion of the property to save it, earning it the nickname "Carlsbad of Nevada."
Eilley had to sell her home in 1876 and spent the rest of her days using her psychic abilities across the state and California. But you can still visit Bowers Mansion which has been restored by Washoe County for public tours. Located within Bowers Mansion Regional Park, tours of the mansion are available seasonally from Memorial Day through Nevada Day weekend; every hour on the hour from 11:00 am-4:00 pm. The property is protected under the National and State Register of Historic Places and is a true testament to the incredible life and career of Eilley Bowers.
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