A mountain chalet built in 1942 for an early backer of one of California’s oldest ski resorts has come on the market for the first time. The three-story family home at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort near Lake Tahoe played a pivotal role in gathering early ski enthusiasts who were committed to bringing skiing to the Sierra Nevada in a big way.
The home at 950 Paint Brush Hill Court in Truckee was built for Jerome Hill, heir to a railroad fortune and an accomplished Hollywood filmmaker, musician and composer. He and a young Walt Disney were early supporters of Austrian ski champ Hannes Schroll’s vision of buying land to create a top-notch ski resort at Donner Summit.
The chalet was designed by San Francisco architect William Wurster, who created Sugar Bowl’s traditional alpine lodge that still stands today. Its style has been indelibly linked to the Old World character of the resort and continues to be the heart of a tight-knit mountain community. (Wurster would go on to become dean of the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Architecture, design more than 200 modernist Bay Area residences, and codesign Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco.)
Hill and his family enjoyed the seven-bedroom home; Schroll, who married Hill’s sister, lived nearby.
Jeff Brown of Tahoe Mountain Realty says the most remarkable feature of the chalet is its location. “Clearly [Hill] had the very first choice of properties,” Brown said. “He selected this one for reasons that had to do with the view. You’re looking straight up at what’s now called Mount Disney. It’s a remarkable, dramatic view, and it has arguably the best ski access in all of Sugar Bowl.”
Inside, bespoke beamed and wooden ceilings create designs that look like works of art in their own right. Grand spaces allow for entertaining as well as cozy, sloped-ceiling sleeping areas.
“The home is designed as large spaces for people to gather,” Brown said. “The floor plan is not something that conforms to traditional metrics, when we describe X number of bedrooms, X number of bathrooms and square footage. This home was built with none of that in mind. It was built around a magnificent stone fireplace, with these vaulted timbered ceilings and this deck that just spans over the Yuba River with views of Mount Disney.”
The home remains largely untouched despite its age; only the kitchen has been updated over time. It has four bathrooms and covers almost 7,000 square feet. There is a caretaker quarters on the base level, and living spaces on the two upper floors, including a special spot near the primary suite where Hill would hold court with his niece and nephew. “In these times before cable television and the Internet, they would get together with their uncle and just make music in this room,” Brown said.
The house is located in a quiet corner of The Village at Sugar Bowl, a trailside community that includes exclusive amenities, such as snowcat service to and from your door in winter (there are no paved roads); access to the Sugar Bowl Ski Team and Academy, a college prep school for competitive skiers; and access to the lodge and private lifts with the community of mostly second-home owners.
Sugar Bowl earned its spot in California’s ski history because it was one of the earliest resorts to popularize the then-fledgling snow sport. It opened in 1939 and drew crowds that included Hollywood stars who came to hit the slopes and ride the first chair lift in the West, which Hill envisioned and operated. It cost 2 cents to take the lift and $2 if you wanted to ski down.
Disney continued to visit and bring his family to ski. The 1941 The Art of Skiing features a cartoon version of Sugar Bowl Lodge, with the character Goofy making comical ski moves on the slopes.
The price of the chalet is $4 million. Dylan Griffin of Tahoe Mountain Realty is the selling agent.