Liberace Mansion keeps the artist’s spirit alive
According to Martine Ravenhill, Liberace was about the treats, not the tricks. Ravenhill, owner of Liberace Mansion, believes the global icon loved celebrating the spooky holiday.
“Halloween was a big deal for Liberace,” Ravenhill said. “He bought boxes of candy, not little fun-sized boxes. No, this wasn’t Liberace at all. He bought full-sized chocolate bars and gave a dollar bill and a full-sized candy bar to every child who came to the mansion.”
“I thought it was exciting for a kid to meet a big star face to face and get a gift,” he said. “That was very special and stuck in people’s minds.”
It has been 10 years since Ravenhill purchased the property from foreclosure and restored the mansion to its original grandeur and grandeur. Over the years, he has collected stories from individuals who frequented Liberace’s “Vegas villa” when the star was alive to better understand the artist.
“I feel like I know Liberace well, and I can talk about what he liked and what he did on Halloween,” Ravenhill said. “He’s like a close friend.”
In the spirit of the season, Ravenhill recalled haunting stories of unexplained phenomena inside the home after the property was restored, such as waking up to the sound of a piano playing in the middle of the night or the unexpected smell of cigarette smoke.
“No one was smoking,” Ravenhill said. “Liberace was a heavy smoker. He smoked two packs a day. So, I’m sure this is Liberace.”
He was also involved when home security cameras captured locked and locked main doors opening at night.
“How do you explain that?” Ravenhill asked. “I’ve never seen Liberace’s ghost, but there’s plenty of evidence of his spirit here.”
From the paranormal to the challenges of the renovation, one thing is certain: the comprehensive renovation is Ravenhill’s beloved tribute to the illustrious Las Vegas legend.
“I hope he will say: ‘Well done, Martin,’” Ravenhill said. “I think he will be pleased with what you have done. I tried to be respectful and close to what he got. I feel that this is why he frequents us in spirit. You can feel it when you walk in the door. There is light here, and that’s because it’s here.”
In 2013, Ravenhill purchased the two-story, 14,393-square-foot property for half a million dollars. At that time, it was just a shell of what it used to be.
When he assumed ownership, the royal estate remained in disarray, with cracks in the walls and two in need of repair. Only a few original elements remain intact, including the primary bedroom ceiling mural, imported Greek columns, a spiral staircase imported from France, and light fixtures.
Ten years later, Ravenhill has not regretted the purchase. He remains vigilant to preserve the mansion and Liberace’s memory.
“If asked if I would do it again: Absolutely!” Ravenhill said. “I realized that this is my passion. I want to see real success.”
Over the years, he has indulged in investing more than $4 million in the project. He used photographs of the mansion taken by the late Pauline Lachance after Liberace’s death to replicate each room.
“I would say 60 percent of the items in the mansion are original,” Ravenhill said.
He completed most of the restoration work during the first five years of his ownership, but the extensive project is still ongoing. Over the past few years, he has installed a highly polished wood floor in the ballroom, commissioned a marble grand piano in celebration of Liberace’s 100th birthday, and completed a reproduction of the master bedroom and bathroom.
In the bedroom, Ravenhill commissioned a replica of the elegant Liberace canopy bed, which takes center stage in the oversized room. The elegant space features a mirrored fireplace, bar, grand piano and luxurious furnishings that reflect Liberace’s stately personality. A highlight is the original and intact Sistine Chapel-style fresco ceiling commissioned by Stefano Angelo Falk, a descendant of Michelangelo.
The luxurious primary bathroom features a sunken marble center soaking tub, double-sink marble vanity and 14-karat gold swan fixtures restored by Ravenhill.
“The elegant swans in the Jacuzzi have been stolen,” Ravenhill said. “I had to find replicas and paint them gold.”
His restoration efforts led to the mansion receiving historic designation from Clark County in 2016. Before accepting it, he helped create a landmark historic registry for the city of Las Vegas with the help of Assemblywoman Heidi Swank and Clark County Commissioner Mary Beth Skow.
“We were the first ever (in Clark County),” Ravenhill said. “I’m very proud of that. I think we were able to set a good example here. People are realizing the importance of history.”
He also petitioned Clark County to rename part of Karen Street to Liberace Street, which was approved late last year. Ravenhill is developing a small Liberace Museum on one of its neighboring properties.
“There’s a lot of history here,” Ravenhill said. “It is very important to keep his memory alive for Las Vegas and his fans.”
The Liberace Mansion is located at 4982 Shirley Street and is open for private tours by appointment. Send an email to Privatetours@candelabraevents.com. They are also available for special events such as weddings, holiday parties and corporate events through Candelabra Events LLC. For anyone interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 702-462-5850.
For information on how to support the restoration of the Liberace Mansion, contact the Friends of the Liberace Mansion via email at email@example.com. For general information about the mansion, visit theliberacemansion.com or call 702-462-5850.