The living history of the Valhalla Grand Hall
Walter and Claire Heller’s love of Tahoe was undying, and they used the estate on as their summer home from 1924 to 1956. Shortly proceeding Walter’s death in 1956, Claire Heller Strauss sold Valhalla to Wilbur Kuhl. In 1960 Wilbur Kuhl sold the estate to Santa Cruz lawyer Raymond H. Goodrich, who sold two shares of Valhalla to two Santa Cruz dentists. In 1965, following the death of one of the co-owners, Raymond Goodrich and the remaining co-owner sold Valhalla to the South Tahoe Valhalla Corporation.
The South Tahoe Valhalla Corporation proceeded to form a Yacht Club offering membership to interested parties. The andirons placed in the massive Valhalla fireplace were boat propellers and are still in use today. Not enough memberships were sold to cover expenses, so in 1971 Valhalla was sold to the Department of Agriculture, US Forest Service for $550,000. The USFS had obtained the Pope Estate in 1965 for $750,000, and following Dextra Baldwin Winter McGonagle’s death in 1967 had purchased the Baldwin-McGonagle Estate for $650,000.
For many years the three estates were used as dormitories for summer USFS workers and firefighters. The estates were closed for a period of years until they were opened up and restored with the support of Valhalla Tahoe (founded 1979) and the Tahoe Heritage Foundation (founded 1996).
Today the Grand Hall hosts celebrations that rival the estates glory days in the late 1920s when famous guests danced the night away under the pines. The Grand Hall can be rented for weddings, fundraisers, meetings and other community events.