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November 27, 2014

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After hiatus, Hammargren House opening in honor of Nevada Day

Home crammed with collectibles from state’s colorful past

Image

Sam Morris

Former Lt. Gov. Lonnie Hammargren makes his way to a palm frond near his replica of the Hoover Dam and Mike O’ Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge at his home Friday, Oct. 28, 2011. Hammargren is resuming his tradition of opening his home for tours to celebrate Nevada Day after a two-year hiatus.

Lonnie Hammargren's Castillo del Sol

The back yard and one of the pools is seen during a tour of former Lt. Gov. Lonnie Hammargren's home, Launch slideshow »

Hammargren House

Nevada Day Fundraiser

The home of Dr. Lonnie Hammargren, 4318 Ridgecrest Drive, will be open for public viewing from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday in celebration of Nevada Day, which is Monday. A $10 donation is suggested, which will go to Living Grace Homes.

Dr. Lonnie Hammargren scurried around his home Friday morning dressed in a blue NASA jumpsuit, whistling a cheerful tune while searching for something over the rim of his spectacles — what it is, he might not even know.

It could be a device from his days as a neurosurgeon, maybe a dusty set of operating tools, or perhaps a larger more historic treasure, like an 1815 Venetian gondola he bought at an auction.

It’s hard to tell how he finds anything in a house the size of three, where every room — including the backyard and at least one bathroom — is crammed with items from long-since imploded hotels, replicas of landmarks like the Taj Mahal and parts of planes and space shuttles.

“I’m obviously a goofy doctor,” Hammargren said.

The doctor and former Nevada lieutenant governor spent his morning giving tours to news stations and calling up producers of three TV shows, all in preparation for the big day.

Sunday he will be honoring celebrities from “Pawn Stars,” “American Restoration” and “Trunks” as part of his annual open house.

“Because I’m a big showoff,” he said in jest.

After a two-year hiatus, Hammargren will once again open his house for public viewing on Sunday in honor of Nevada Day, which is Monday. From noon to 5 p.m. thousands of people are expected to walk through the house at 4318 Ridgecrest Drive to see his collection. This year he’s asking visitors make a $10 donation to Living Grace Homes, a local nonprofit that shelters and assists homeless pregnant teens.

“They have a lot of mix feelings in the neighborhood,” said Kathleen Miller, executive director for the nonprofit and friend of Hammargren.

Hammargren had canceled the event in years passed due to private family matters and a legal complaint neighbors filed about his home. He had also made a request to turn his home into a museum, but was denied by the Clark County Department of Planning in January 2010.

Parking is the most important update this year, Hammargren said. Complaints in previous years by neighbors upset over broken sprinklers and litter left behind by visitors prompted Hammargren to reach out to local business on Flamingo and Sandhill to allow visitors to park there and ride a shuttle over to his house.

“I don’t know why anybody complains,” said 88-year-old Dorothy Reeve, who has lived across from the Hammargren House for 34 years. “It’s fun, you never know what’s going to be next.”

Hammargren might not know what’s next either, or does he?

“That’s been my life, serendipity,” he said. “It’s been a planned serendipity.”

The 73-year-old doesn’t remember all the stories of serendipity, but he tells them anyway.

A friend said Hammargren got on his hands and knees and begged for the scale model of the New York-New York.

“But I don’t remember that,” he said.

What he does remember is why he does what he does. Hammargren said the tradition brings people to his door he wouldn’t normally expect, like former patients he’s saved and thankful family members.

Hammargren’s stories range from treating Evel Knievel’s injuries after one of his more daring jumps to operating on boxers.

“I was not a good politician,” he said. “I was a superb doctor. Which is what I want to be remembered as.”

Starting when he was 6 years old with a butterfly collection, Hammargren has more pieces than he can count.

The shirt of a dusty half-naked mannequin on the roof explained it well, “He with the most toys wins.”

“I get so much reward out of this," Hammargren said.

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  1. Sweet!!! Best house I ever visited.

  2. I drive by the back of this place on Sandhill a couple of times a week...I relish the chance to finally see it !

  3. See it before the new neighbors start to complain about what they knew was there before they moved in.

    No matter what the county said, this is a museum and should be looked as one. It's an amazing place

  4. Great news for fans of Vegas and Nevada! Thankfully, the creepy HOA wave hasn't tainted every neighborhood in our freedom-loving town.