The Cassidy Boathouse
by Kelly Cassidy
In 1991, Dentist, Kevin Cassidy moved from Lake Tahoe's north shore to South Lake Tahoe. He purchased a home in the Al Tahoe neighborhood, the oldest neighborhood in all of Lake Tahoe. The 1934 "Rustic Resort" Cabin was built during the Al Globin period for which "Al Tahoe" had received its name. The home was in need of some love and care which Kevin happily provided. On the property was a boathouse that had a date of "1937" under the eaves of the tin roof. So he assumed that the boathouse was built at that time. Inside at the time of the purchase of the property were found 6 built-in cots and other artifacts of the day. It was unusual in that great care was taken to build the boathouse and create stylized design effects that are reminiscent of Adirondak and Arts and Crafts Style. Typically in the Lake Tahoe area, boathouses were created for more utility than for looks. Here was a boathouse that was created to look good and withstand time. And even more unusual, it was floored in. Floored-in boathouses on the lake were usually reserved for extant buildings to hold a bar, post-office or welcome area for those arriving from steam ships traveling from the West or North Shore.
On December 1st of 2011, a huge wind storm hit the South Shore with 125 mile an hour winds knocking the boathouse off of it's old wooden pilings, spinning it around and crashing down parallel along the remnants of the Cassidy pier. The floor was washed away, yet the rest of the structure remained in-tact. So began the long restoration process for the Cassidy Boathouse.
A day after the boathouse was knocked off in the storm, Kevin called his insurance company to file a claim. a few weeks later, he received the phone call telling him that insurance would not cover it saying that the damage was due to waves and not wind. And since "wave damage" was not covered, we'd have to find alternate funding. Kevin was not about to give up. So for the next 10 months, Kevin fought the insurance company for the claim. The boathouse sat in the water next to the pier for over a year creating a novelty for every paddleboarder and kayaker on the lake. Finally, Kevin's persistence paid off and the insurance company agreed to pay part of the claim. With what little we were given, we were able to have the pier rebuilt and have a new platform built with the hopes that one day we might be able to return the boathouse to it's original location. In the meantime, the boathouse sat in the water. Time was of the essence.
I gladly on took on the project feeling that the boathouse needed some stewardship and love. As Kevin's fiance at the time, I was juggling my work, home care, and planning our wedding. The boathouse was typically on the top of my "to do" list everyday. I had dreams of maybe having our June wedding ceremony in the boathouse.
Currently in Lake Tahoe, no more boathouses -offshore or on- are allowed to be built. Only those residences who already have a boathouse from years past have compliance to keep their rights to a boathouse on the property. This is called "Grandfathered In". Many residents around the lake have tried to ask the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) for permits for building a boathouse on their property. We wanted to keep our rights as being "Grandfathered In" and in order to do that, we had to restore the boathouse before the build permit ran out.
Unfortunately, we did not have the funds to put the boathouse back on the pier with the little money the insurance gave us. At times, the task seemed hopeless and we fretted the thought of taking apart the boathouse to be stored for the day we might be able to get it back onto the pier. With a bit of sadness, I went to the TRPA to file the permits to have the boathouse taken down and stored away. But as fate would have it, the front desk clerk, Gary Wiegel stopped the process telling me that there was research done on the boathouse on file there done by Historian, Judith Marvin of Placerville, CA. Ms. Marvin was hired by a wealthy resident in north Lake Tahoe to survey the best examples of Tahoe Boathouses so that he might make a proposal to the TRPA to build his own. But, as mentioned before, permits were no longer being given out to residents to build boathouses. They are generally seen as a time past that has no significant value. (I beg to differ). Gary handed me the file saying, "Your boathouse is a lot older than you think. You should think twice before taking it apart and storing it." As it turned out, the date of "1937" under the tin roof eave was the date the original wooden roof was replaced by tin.
I poured over Ms. Marvin's 10 page report. She had in her file, a picture of our boathouse dating from c1912, from the Al Globin period of 1908-1912. Dating the Boathouse c1908-12. We cannot be sure of the exact date. Before this, the area was a modest fishing destination and the only buildings along the lake in this area were small out buildings for the fishing trade along with the more glamorous Tallac Hotel which was a few miles west along the shore from the boathouse. The Tallac Hotel had a beautiful over-the-water boathouse and pier where the visitors would dock from the steamer from Truckee (the only way to get to the South Shore at the time.) Unfortunately, the Tallac Hotel's boathouse burned down only a few years after being built. Visitors to Al Tahoe and the Tallac resort area would have seen our boathouse when coming into the pier at the Tallac Hotel. The photo above, provided by Ms. Marvin was taken from the Tallac Pier in 1912. So from Ms. Marvin's research, it was shown that our boathouse was built between 1908 and 1912...making it the oldest boathouse on Lake Tahoe....and possibly the oldest building in Al Tahoe. I was more determined than ever to get the boathouse back up on the pier.
Finally, with the help of an incredible architect/contractor named Scott Meyer, we were able to have the boathouse back on the pier in time for our wedding. Three days before the wedding to be exact! Scott and his team were amazing! It was a lot of fun and fascinating to watch him and his crew work on the boathouse over the 18 day build. You can view the rebuild photos below.
Since then, we have had our wedding ceremony, two concerts and two workshops in the boathouse . We know this is the beginning of great events and happenings in the boathouse in the future! Come see this beautiful boathouse for yourself!
See PHOTOS of the boathouse rebuild HERE.