One stop that many visitors make in the course of their tour of Virginia City and the surrounding locals is the Mackay Mansion. This Nevada home earned itself and its district historical recognition that will be forever burned into the pages of state and national history. Not only is it a haven for visitors, but it is also the beloved location for many social events, and its tours make any activity truly unique.
The home was constructed by George Hearst in 1859. However, it is its eventual owner, John Mackay that put this attractive place on the historic state map. Its tours operate all year, showing clearly how one generous philanthropist and claimant to an ore discovery changed history for not only the area, the state and the nation, but left behind a legacy that affects the world that people live in today.
George Hearst was its first inhabitant, a man who built his fortunes as a mining supervisor. It doubled as his base of administrative operations for the Gould and Curry Office. He would soon amass a large fortune, but like many prospectors and miners, his stay there was short lived. He moved westward and eastward, putting what would amount to billions in today's equivalent of American dollars into the Californian lumber industry and the further mining ventures in Utah and South Dakota. Ironically, his move was premature because the new owner of his former home would create a tidal wave of wealth that had never seen before or since in the Comstock mining area.
John Mackay took over the mansion; an Irish immigrant and former shipbuilder, Mackay's intense desire to make his fortune in gold would forever change his life and those of millions of others. His original quest had begun in California, but with silver ore finds having been rumored in the Comstock, he walked his way into history. After he built his fortune through mining facility stocks, awards for his hard work down the area's mine shafts, he had found his new home.
Mackay bought out other silver ore claims, controlled booming mines and bought out others during their peak days. However, shortly after buying the mansion, finances became tight, and with little left to do other than go prospecting again, he and James Fair, a business partner built a shaft not far from Virginia City. The find, named after him, the Comstock Lode drew international attention as the biggest silver find ever found in North America. It amassed some one hundred and thirty three million US dollars.
Today visitors can enjoy Mackay's simple, but elegant tastes. His wealth is apparent in the exquisite furnishings and other items that he added to the mansion's décor. However, as tour guides point out, his amazing find not only brought about Nevada's statehood earlier than expected, but helped to finance the northern forces that won the American Civil War. Though the story does not end there; his final legacy was by far his attitude towards his own wealth, which he readily shared with many a needy individual.