Emerald Bay provided the setting for one of the first summer homes at Lake Tahoe. In 1863 Ben Holladay, stagecoach magnet and early day transportation king pre-empted land in Emerald Bay and built a summer home. In 1884 a Dr. Kirby bought 500 acres in the Bay and built a resort. A portion of the Kirby land was sold to the William Henry Armstrong family in 1895. Mrs. Knight purchased the land from the Armstrongs in 1928. Mrs. Knight's land included the only island (Fanette Island) in Lake Tahoe and the only water fall (Eagle Falls) flowing directly into the Lake. Magnificent cedars and pines set off by shear granite cliffs make this one of the most scenic areas in the entire United States. Mrs. Knight wanted to build a summer home that would compliment the magnificent natural surroundings. Emerald Bay reminded her of many of the fjords she had seen on numerous travels to Scandinavia. She commissioned her nephew by marriage, Lennart Palme, a Swedish architect, to design the plans.
In the summer of 1928 Mrs. Knight and the Palmes traveled to Scandinavia to gather the ideas they wanted to incorporate in Vikingsholm. Vikingsholm was completed in the fall of 1929 and occupied by Mrs. Knight, her staff of 15 and many guests in June of 1930. Mrs. Knight enjoyed 15 summers at Vikingsholm. She always had a home full of guests to share this magnificent summer home with her. Mrs. Knight passed away at the age of 82 in 1945. After her death, the home was sold to Lawrence Holland, a rancher from Nevada. He subsequently sold it to Harvey West, a lumberman from Placerville, California. In the early 1950s, Mr. West, a noted philanthropist, negotiated with the State of California and said he would donate one-half of the appraised value of the land, as well as the Vikingsholm itself outright, if the State would pay him the other half. This arrangement was agreed upon, and in 1953 the house and property were acquired by the State. Vikingsholm is considered to be one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture existing in the United States. It is now a part of the Harvey West Unit of the Emerald Bay State Park. The house is open for tours in the summer months and the grounds and magnificent scenery may be enjoyed all year around by those wishing to visit this beautiful setting.