Historic Drum Estate Sells on the West Shore for $28.975m

drummainhouse1927John Drum, President of the American Trust Company, which later merged into Wells Fargo Bank, originally purchased the lakefront property in 1923. Located in Meeks Bay, the property is wrapped around a crescent of shoreline that the Drums christened “Chinkapin Cove.” His wife, Georgina S. Drum, commissioned notable San Francisco architect G. Albert Lansburgh to build the home.  Lansburgh is famous for designing theaters across the nation, including the Warfield and Orpheum theaters in San Francisco as well as homes in the Pacific Heights district of San Francisco. Lansburgh also designed the Drum’s primary residence in San Francisco.


The Drum’s West Shore property on Lake Tahoe was titled “The John S. Drum Chalet” and the drawings, pencil sketches and original photos of the home are housed in U.C. Berkeley’s Architectural Archives collection.The Drum family owned the property from 1923 to 1961. The main structure was built with Port Orford cedar logs, shipped down from Oregon, an unusual practice during that time as most homes were built with local lumber. This type of cedar was selected because it is particularly rot-resistant and would stand the test of time.Much of the home’s original charm, materials and history have been preserved. Ox yolks from the oxen that pulled the lumber around the property hang on display above the patio. Nearby, a secluded outdoor barbecue area sits on a ridge overlooking the property.


The main lodge was built with cedar logs shipped to Tahoe from Oregon. The contractor was Matt Green, who later would build Vikingsholm at Emerald Bay. That popular tourist attraction is now owned by California State Parks.

The Drum estate hosted extravagant parties and notable visitors, including Charles Lindbergh, who visited in 1927 just months after his historic trans-Atlantic flight. It was purchased in 1961 by Erik Jonsson, former mayor of Dallas and founder of Texas Instruments.

The article quotes Mark Jonsson, Erik’s grandson: “I suspect all the movers and shakers of San Francisco probably went through there at some time. If the walls could talk, I think they’ve seen a lot of things.”

Jonsson said difficulties of multiple-family-member ownership make it necessary to sell the property.

“I’ve been there every summer of my life,” he said. “It’s just nothing but good memories. I’m sorry to see us have to sell it.”


The estate has 10 acres and nearly 750 feet of lakeshore. Buildings include the main lodge, three guest cottages, a modern, four-bedroom lakefront home, a boat house, tennis court and two piers.

The property has been toured in the past by officials from the California Tahoe Conservancy and California State Parks, but Jonsson said he’s unaware of any active plans to acquire the estate for the public. Jonsson wouldn’t mind, either. “Then I would still be able to visit,” he said.

What was especially interesting was that when the estate sold in March 2017 it consisted of two separate parcels owned by two different families. My understanding is that the buyer got the neighboring parcel into contract on January 9 then approached the Jonssons about selling the property with the historic lodge on it. Once they agreed the estate was destined to become one again. We’ll see what the future holds for this iconic piece of The Big Blue Lake…

Sources for this post:



Tahoe Sierra MLS


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