Open house at historic Carson City site to honor Native American heritage |

Open house at historic Carson City site to honor Native American heritage

Nevada Appeal staff report
The Wungnema House is seen during flooding in Mills Park on Feb. 9. The historic house will be the site of an open house on Sunday.
Courtesy |

Native American art will be central to an open house on Sunday at one of Carson City’s historic buildings.

The Foundation for Carson City Parks and Recreation is offering a glimpse into the Wungnema House in Mills Park from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The building is accessible by the park entrance on Saliman Road, opposite the high school. The free event offers the chance to learn about the historic building, Native American heritage and the foundation.

A family of Hopi stone masons, the Wungnemas built the 1,000 square-foot house in 1948.

Burton Wungnema, Burton’s father Earnest, and Burton’s wife Pearl, built their home on what was then the eastern edge of Carson City. Burton and his wife met as students at the Stewart Indian School, married, and went onto raise their children in the home. Although Burton died shortly after his 29th birthday in May 1956, Pearl and her children continued to live in their home until the 1970s when they moved to a larger house. After nearly two decades of neglect, the house was acquired by Carson City, restored, and opened for a variety of public uses in December 2000. The foundation maintains the historic Wungnema House under a lease from the city. Other open houses will be held this year.

The Wungnema House is representative of the distinctive masonry work seen in churches and homes built by Burton and his father around Carson City and Lake Tahoe from 1925 to 1955. Examples of their work can be seen at various locations in Carson City, including at the Stewart Indian School. Burton used a distinctively colored rhyolite obtained from his father’s quarries in the Brunswick Canyon area east of Carson City for the construction of his home.

According to Wungnema family tradition, the chimney and fireplace utilized stones brought from Arizona. The fireplace’s facade contains a cut-stone representation of clouds, lightning, and rain, forming the symbol of the Hopi Water clan, the clan to which Burton Wungnema belonged.

Founded in 2015, the Foundation for Carson City Parks and Recreation is a nonprofit member-driven 501(c)(3) organization created for charitable and educational purposes related to parks and recreation in Carson City. Its mission is to encourage public support for the enhancement of Carson City’s parks and recreational facilities. The foundation provides an umbrella under which various organizations and citizens can come together to explore innovative ways to promote and facilitate their activities.

It welcomes new members and is interested in individuals who can help with fundraising, newsletters, publicity, special events, recruitment, and park clean up. Annual membership is $25.

For information, call David Bugli at 775-883-4154, or go to