Lorne Greene built a personal replica of the Ponderosa in Arizona
The Bonanza star had his own private Bonanza-accurate ranch.
Read to Me
As much as you might enjoy your job, you still need time at home to relax and recharge. Lorne Greene obviously loved his job. He not only took his work home with him, but he also turned a home into his work.
Even casual fans of Bonanza know that the Cartwrights live on the Ponderosa (after all, there are steakhouse chains named in their honor), a sprawling ranch snuggling Lake Tahoe in northern Nevada. Of course, this being the magic of television, the Western was actually filmed at Paramount Studios in Hollywood. The production constructed the Ponderosa ranch house in Stage 16. For an added layer of realism, production designers shipped in real Ponderosa pines from Lake Tahoe.
Considering it was a mere set, the Ponderosa ranch seen on television was dismantled when the series ended in 1973. But it was not the only Ponderosa ranch. There was a Ponderosa II — in an altogether different state.
In the early Sixties, Greene, a Canadian citizen born in that nation's capital, built his own slice of the Ponderosa in Mesa, Arizona. The Ponderosa II sits at the end of a country club cul-de-sac overlooking a golf course. The property served as a getaway for Lorne and his wife Nancy.
Nancy, a painter, helped decorate the interior of the abode, a dead-ringer for the "real" thing. Just look at Ben Cartwright working at his desk — compared to the same space in the Ponderosa II.
The white grout between the thick wood-beam walls. The red curtains. It's spot on.
Elsewhere in the living space, you will spot the distinctive stone fireplace, piano and other facsimiles of the show.
This was not Greene's only retreat. Pulling in $32,000 an episode from Bonanza alone, the Western star owned a ranch in Central California, a 22-room Spanish-style estate in Brentwood, and a summer escape on Long Island. He even held a potato-packing plant in Oregon, according to A Reference Guide to Television's Bonanza.