Tonopah’s Arthur Raycraft House

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(Fig. 01)
08/09/2013 Trip Notes: After an overnight stay at the Mitzpah Hotel, we drove around town looking for some of the more prominent buildings and residences. Probably the most famous is the Arthur Raycraft House (Fig. 01) located at the base of a mountain on Booker Street on the western edge of town. Unfortunately the house is a private residence and not available for tours.
(Fig. 02)
History: The Arthur Raycraft house, built in 1906, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982 and is known locally by residents as the “Castle House” because of its two Queen Anne Style turrets on opposing ends of the front façade. It is said to be one of several houses in town that has been the dream house of just about every kid who has lived in Tonopah during the last century. It was deemed significant for its association with banker and businessman Arthur G. Raycraft. Its substantial architecture is an outstanding example of stone construction (Fig. 02) during the early days of Tonopah’s mining boom and provides an interesting variation of the dominant residential style in Tonopah in the early 1900’s. The structure was designed by architect and builder, George Holesworth, who is known as the "Architect of Nevada." He also designed other Tonopah structures including the Belvada (State Bank and Trust Co.), the Mizpah Hotel, the St. Mark's Episcopal Church and the Frank Golden Block (Masonic Lodge).
Arthur Raycraft came to Tonopah as a banker in 1904 and over the next several years became an investor in many of the mining camps in the Tonopah area, eventually leading him to become president of the Dexter-Manhattan Mining Company. An enthusiastic proponent of using wireless to keep in contact with the mining camps around the west-central Nevada area, he is also known for installing the first wireless telegraph system between Tonopah, Nevada and a similar installation in Manhattan, Nevada, about 30 miles north of Tonopah. Raycraft installed the first system in the upper floor of the house, and according to the new owners, remnants still remain.
Today the home is the private residence of Joni and Dennis Eastley. In 1998, the Eastley’s  purchased the house from the Pillers family and began restoring it. Being a true purist, and wanting to keep things the way they were, Joni didn’t do a single thing to the house without consulting a historian or architecture preservationist. Without the aid of photographs and because various renters over the years had destroyed much of the homes interior, restoration was a nightmare.
From the reconstruction of the totally destroyed interior banister to buying and stamping sheets of copper to construct the kitchen’s ceiling, to purchasing reclaimed wood from a company in Sacramento for the crown molding and other trim throughout the house, the Eastleys have made every effort to keep the restoration as true to 1908 as possible.  Joni even keeps a notebook where she lists the original home of each chandelier, piece of stained glass, and furniture that has been used in the restoration. They have put just as much care into the restoration and preservation of the home’s exterior (Fig. 03). Because the lower turret was falling apart from overgrown honeysuckle, Dennis bartered for similar reclaimed rock with other local property owners.
This, now long and arduous 15-year labor of love, has had its ups and downs. On February 1, 1999 during the early stages of renovation, the oil furnace went out causing a fire that started when the space heaters overheated the knob and tube wiring. Two days later, all the pipes in the house froze and burst, causing the Eastley’s replace all the electrical and much of the piping. So far she and her husband have spent well in excess of $100,000 trying to restore it to its original state. Despite these challenges, they have pushed on and have plans to complete the restoration and to landscape the property. Hopefully, they will someday consider opening the house for tours by the public so we can all share in the success of their efforts.
(Fig. 03)