Hidden Gems! Yes, literally.
Not only is this a spectacular piece of real estate on the National Register of Historic Places, but it houses one of the most esteemed rock and mineral museums in the world. And these aren't just dusty old stones! Rubies and diamonds? Check. Fossilized shark teeth? Sure, they've got those and a baby dinosaur! There's a custom UV lighting system that charges up their Rainbow Gallery, full of phosphorescent and fluorescent rocks that actually glow in the dark. The world's largest opal-filled thunderegg lives there, as well as an extensive collection of meteorites, in case out-of-this-world is more your style.
The House Itself Originally built in 1952 for $185,000 (the nearly 11,000 square foot dwelling is valued somewhat higher these days), Richard and Helen Rice intended the residence to be both a home for them and their growing collections. Richard Rice earned his bread as a logging contractor so he logged and milled all the wood himself.
In addition to the curly maple and myrtlewood, the exterior features Arizona flagstone. Myrtlewood trim and doors decorate the interior, as well as three sandstone fireplaces and hand-painted tile countertops from Mexico. Graceful notes of practical luxury can be found among the built-in cabinetry, ironing boards and dumbwaiters.
When Richard and Helen passed away in 1997, ownership of their home was bestowed upon the non-profit museum. Every year, thousands of visitors experience the beauty and wonder of the collections housed there, allowing their legacy to live on.