Las Vegas Open House - Dr. Lonnie Hammargren Nevada Day 2008 - Hammargren for President!

By
Real Estate Agent with Simply Vegas Real Estate

I just got word tonight from Dr. Lonnie Hammargren, former Nevada Lt. Governor, famous retired neurosurgeon of the stars, Vietnam combat veteran, NASA Apollo Moon Mission flight surgeon, Archeoastronomer, Knighted for charity work five times: Greece, Italy, London, Russia, Malta, Honorary Consul to Belize, musician, and....well I could go on and on with a laundry list of his accomplishments. There's also something else that Lonnie has done that many Las Vegans know him for...his eclectic collection of all things Las Vegas, Nevada, space, science, art, and just about anything else that catches his eye.

Lonnie opens his doors to the public on Nevada Day weekend. For those non-Nevadans, this day is to commemorate the admission of Nevada into the union, on October 31, 1864. In 2003 the state legislature decided to celebrate this holiday on the last Friday of October to create a long weekend for events. Lonnie has followed this schedule and will hold his open house this year on Sunday November 2nd., from 1 - 5 PM. The collection is located on the east side of the Las Vegas Valley near Flamingo and Sandhill at 4318 Ridgecrest Drive.


Where exactly is this massive collection he's spent millions on? At his home, of course. Well, I should say homes. No, not 2, but 3, and those have even been built out and up to fit the ever growing collection. His Hammargren Home of Nevada History is a wild menagerie that has saved the Las Vegas that has 'disappeared', one piece at a time. From Casino signs to actual pieces of the buildings, memorabilia from the entertainers, athletes, and stunts that have thrilled Las Vegas audiences of the past.

To take a sneak peak at a little more of the homes, you'll find Lonnie's Virtual Tour Here.

If you know Lonnie, you know he has a heart of gold. As a neurosurgeon, 30% of his surgeries were done gratis. Of course if you know him, you also know he's a lovable, colorful character that loves to have fun... even in his own unique style. In 2006 Lonnie had a near fatal heart attack and sextuple bypass surgery. From his doctor's "NO WAY", for the first time in memory, he was unable to open his homes to the public for Nevada Day. With having to face his mortality, the following March Lonnie held his own funeral, "A Wake While He's Awake", with a memorial service, eulogies, and a New Orleans style funeral procession through the streets to his homes, where he was 'laid to rest' in his sarcophagus (made from a polio iron lung in his collection) that was in his Egyptian Tomb in one of the basements.

With his flair for doing the unusual, and his humanitarian and public service history, I guess I shouldn't be surprised with the explosion of a grass roots campaign for 'Hammargren for President 2008'. Actually this is something I would expect, coming from Lonnie. Here's the news clip he sent along from his election phenomenon at Channel 3 News.

Dr. Lonnie Hammargren is one of the unique people in the valley that makes living in Las Vegas a true experience. He's definitely a one of a kind.

 

<<<  UPDATE  >>>

“Hammargren Home of Nevada History”

13th Annual Nevada Day Open House

Sunday – November 2nd; 1:00-5:00 PM

Howard Hughes and Bugsy Siegel exhibits

Las Vegas, NV: October 28, 2008; there are three areas at the Hammargren complex we will highlight for the 2008 Nevada Day celebration this year:

  • Howard Hughes; his aviation achievements, exhibits, artifacts and flight records
  • The European Space Agency's Columbus Laboratory Exhibit and more
  • Signs & memorabilia from four recently imploded Las Vegas Hotel/Casinos; and

 over a decade ago, when the Flamingo Hotel razed Bugsy Siegel’s famous “Oregon Suite”, the hotel pool and other motel building…Dr. Hammargren was there…and hauled off some historic gems.

Admission is a donation to the “Living Grace Home”

For pregnant teens www.livinggracehome.com

$5.00 per person; children under 12 are FREE

 

November 2nd is the 61st anniversary of the only flight of the Spruce Goose.

The “Howard Hughes Engineering Office” is nearly complete with photos, books and records. The black & white checkered tiled floor is symbolic for the many FIRST PLACE wins Hughes racked up flying airplanes, making movies, launching satellites and distant space probe; and in death, annually his Medical Institute is the richest and gives upwards of ¾ of a billion dollars towards medical research. (www.hhmi.org )

Dr. Hammargren has acquired a spare engine for the Spruce Goose (has 8 engines). A large portion of its hermetic sealed container has been removed so the technology can be viewed. This power plant is an awesome display. It is a 3000 horse power Pratt & Whitney engine. “Howard Hughes was always fascinated with combustion engines, considering his Need for Speed; said Hughes historian Bob McCaffery. “The twin engine XF-11 aircraft that Hughes crashed and was nearly killed in 1946 had two of these thunderous engines.” he added. Most of the cabinetry & fixtures in the HRH Engineering Office are from the Howard Hughes suite at the Frontier Hotel including the ‘crapper’; and there’s the wheel/chassis from Howard Hughes private railroad car. The neatest under glass display is the original architectural model of the Desert Inn Hotel/Casino. Lonnie has the D.I. Sign too.

Space Exhibits at “The Hammargren Spaceflight Center”

Believe it or not…Ripley; Dr. Hammargren has own spacecraft complex nestled from public view atop the roof of his ‘center-house’. The space display theme(s) began over 25 years ago when he acquired a for-sure real Apollo Spacecraft used for splash-down tests. “I was a NASA astronaut candidate and flight surgeon at “The Cape” at the time astronauts Grissom, White, and Chaffee were killed on the launch pad. That did not discourage me from pursuing becoming an astronaut; however my eyesight failed me and I had to flunk myself”; said Dr. Hammargren.

“I bought all of spacecraft models from Bob Stupak’s Vegas World that soon became a ‘critical mass’ of space stuff, so I continued to add, modify and construct over the years. It’s slowly gaining its credibility as an educational tool”; said Dr. Hammargren. “Education has always been my intent”; he added.

Near completion are various models: a 2/3 scale model the USA Space Shuttle,

Columbus - a European Space Agency Science Laboratory that is part of the International Space Station (long as a football field.) An Orion space capsule, America’s next generation of space launch vehicles. A small model of the Apollo-Soyuz hookup in orbit in 1974. Russian Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, the Soyuz commander has visited the Hammargren home and praised the Doctors space exhibits.

Hotel artifacts:

Dr. Hammargren has ‘acquired’ signs and other interesting things from four recently imploded Hotels; the Frontier, Stardust, Nevada Palace, Klondike Inn. And from the Flamingo Hotel over a decade ago, when the Flamingo Hotel razed their old motels, the famous pool and The Oregon Suite, where Bugsy Siegel lived. Bugsy’s favorite color was chartreuse. Lonnie got his Potty. It’s chartreuse, as are all bathroom fixtures and the chandelier, all chartreuse. And then Doc got the famous giant welded flamingo statue from the famous swimming pool area. Imagine the history of four decades of happy tourists lounging poolside. The 50’s thru 80’s will someday be recognized as our finest decades in our countries history.

 

As Robin Leach has said…”you’ve got to see this place to believe it.”

Refreshments provided by and for the benefit of the Living Grace Home

Written by: Bob McCaffery, Howard Hughes historian 286-6604: McCaffery led the effort

to save the Spruce Goose in 1980 and served as President of the AeroClub

of Southern California, owners of the aircraft. www.theaviatorhh.com

4318 Ridgecrest Drive (Flamingo at Sandhill)

 

For your pleasure: Nonstop Entertainment

Visit www.nevadaday.org for more information and ‘take a virtual tour’

 

If you are interested in relocating to Las Vegas or would like information on Las Vegas real estate, please email me, Roberta LaRocca, at roberta@search4lasvegashomes.com, or call me at 702-354-8988. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

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Anonymous
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Bob

Too funny. Hamagren is quite the joker and has some neat things there.Osmonds Mccambridge now this to see. Have to read the rest of your blog. Is there anyone anything Vegas you don't know about? LOL

Oct 02, 2008 02:32 PM #1
Rainmaker
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Roberta LaRocca
Simply Vegas Real Estate - Las Vegas, NV
REALTOR®, Broker, Salesperson, Property Management

Bob: Lonnie is a character, just can't put anything past him. Keep reading, I'm sure you'll find some other things to keep you busy. Who don't I know in Vegas? I think there's some guy named Bob. LOL

Oct 03, 2008 04:29 AM #2
Anonymous
Anonymous
Bob
Hey Roberta you know me now we just haven't met. LOL Talking with people. Is it true he has liberace's staircase built in and the dragon from FX at MGM? What's with Russian space art? Alot about Vegas in your blog I didn't know thanx!
Oct 04, 2008 05:38 PM #3
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June Stark
Elite Realty-Luxury Homes & Condos On & Off the Strip - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Condos & Luxury Homes Expert
I used to drive by this home daily when my kids were little & went to Geroge E. Harris school. Thanks for the tour link. Never saw the inside!
Oct 04, 2008 06:19 PM #4
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Roberta LaRocca
Simply Vegas Real Estate - Las Vegas, NV
REALTOR®, Broker, Salesperson, Property Management

Bob: I guess you're right! Yes, the staircase is the one from Liberace's show at the Riviera. He would make his stage entrance down those stairs. If you look at the tours it's in the Music Room and goes to the second floor addition.

The dragon is from FX, and is in the back yard between the first and second homes, across from the first Clark Co. jail doors and near the Showboat stage...can't miss it!  

The space art was actually done by Russian cosmonauts, and their visions of their space travels. They had been in the Smithsonian until the fall of the USSR. As members of the Artist Union they 'repossessed them' off the walls, and were sold to raise funds. They brought them to Lonnie, and many of the cosmonauts were at his home. If you look closely up those Liberace stairs and to your right, you might see a picture of them, near the painting they did of Lonnie in a Russian space suit. Many of the paintings can be found in the book, "In the Stream of the Stars".

They are unique pieces of history. Some are from the 1st man to walk in Space, Alexi Leonov. Lonnie also has his 'death mask' and it really becomes interesting when you take a picture. The mask is an impression cast, but it will appear to come 'out' at you in a photo, and will 'move' when shot at angles.    

   Alexi Leonov Death Mask Front View

Alexi Leonov Death Mask Side View

If you go and make the climb all the way up to the 'observatory' on the rooftop of the middle house, there's some cool views of the valley. One of my favorite shots was the moonrise over Frenchman's Mountain, taken at Lonnie's B-Day party last year at Christmas. He also did a sunset memorial service for his friends that had passed, Evil Knievel, Bob Goulet, and Las Vegas entertainer and sidekick of Jimmy Durante, Sonny King, along with fallen soldiers of NV. A Veterans color guard and a tolling of the bell as each of their names were read, it was a touching tribute at a beautiful sunset.

Hammargren Home Las Vegas - View from Observatory   

Click here for a larger picture

My DH has hundreds of pictures of Lonnie's collection and knows much more about it than I, but he'll be the first to tell you that every time he's there he makes a new discovery, and getting the story behind the piece is what makes them really amazing. There's so much there that people walk by....as his wife Sandy calls it 'junk', but there's some interesting tales either about the item or how it was acquired.   Sorry for the rambling reply!

June: Well it's about time you got to peek at the inside! LOL Glad you got to finally take the tour, even if only online. I imagine that even though he's had so many open houses over the years and thousands walking through, there's still many in the valley that drive past and say "What the HECK is that stuff."  

 

Oct 05, 2008 04:59 AM #5
Anonymous
Anonymous
Bob

Thanks for answering my questions Roberta. The mask is freaky and that is a great view. Can't wait to check it out.

Oct 06, 2008 01:45 PM #6
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Roberta LaRocca
Simply Vegas Real Estate - Las Vegas, NV
REALTOR®, Broker, Salesperson, Property Management

Bob: No problem, glad I could help out. There's a lot there hidden away in Lonnie's eccentric collection. Hard to appreciate if you don't know what's lurking there.

 

 

Oct 07, 2008 06:58 PM #7
Rainmaker
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Roberta LaRocca
Simply Vegas Real Estate - Las Vegas, NV
REALTOR®, Broker, Salesperson, Property Management

UPDATE:

Added the latest info from Lonnie to the post.

Oct 29, 2008 02:38 PM #8
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