Goodrich House, located at 3166 Bellevue Avenue, currently owned by Kathy and Bill Spangler, is one of the
oldest standing private residences in Lake Tahoe. It was originally a cobbler’s shop in Rowlands’ township.
Much of this information was gleaned from The Saga of Lake Tahoe, Volumes 1 and 2. The Saga is available for purchase at the Lake Tahoe Historical Society History Museum.
July 27, 2015
In May of 1866, the Lake House Hotel was destroyed by a fire. Seneca and Robert Dean, the current owners of the property, accepted a purchase offer from Thomas Rowland. Rowland had previously owned Strawberry Station on today's Highway 50. Rowland completed construction of a new way station on the site of the former Lake House.
By 1870 Rowland had the makings of a thriving community. There were several homes, blacksmith and cobbler's shops, a mercantile, milk and smoke houses, and a commercial fishing camp. The main attraction though was Rowland's Custom House and Saloon, a two-and-a-half-story building constructed on a pier extended over the lake.
It became "The" place to party on Lake Tahoe. Rowland's "socials" and "crushers," as dances were called in those days, and it drew "Devil-may-care stags" and "unattached young ladies" from throughout the Sierra. Revelers came by steamboat from Tahoe City and Glenbrook and by carriage and coach from Reno, Carson, Virginia City, and Placerville. Rowland had created the party persona that would belong to Al Tahoe through the AI Sprague and Frank Globin eras. His popularity was such that he was elected to two terms in the California assembly. By the 1880's, Rowland's Station had developed a reputation the Pacific Tourist Guide described as "the first place of resort on the lake."
A Rowland legacy in the neighborhood is the small cemetery located on Alameda Avenue, between Berkeley and Fresno avenues, marker AT-5. Many of Al Tahoe's pioneers are buried in the cemetery, including Thomas Rowland and his wife, Sophronia.
Thomas Rowland died in 1883 which left Sophronia to run the hotel and saloon and manage the leases of several hundred acres to dairymen.
In 1889 logging companies from Glenbrook built their own log transfer stations outside Rowland's, taking that business away from Rowland's community, which signaled the demise of Rowland's Station. People began to move from Rowland's Station to Bijou as logging operations there presented better business opportunities.
The heavy winter of 1889-90 dealt the final blow to Rowland's Station. Heavy snows caused the Custom House and Saloon to collapse. Sophronia mortgaged much of her land and by 1907 she had also moved to Bijou.
In 1907, Rowland's Station became Al Tahoe when Almerin "Al" Sprague built the Al Tahoe Hotel, Site AT-6.