Inside Casa De Shenandoah
Casa de Shenandoah, the sprawling 52-acre estate of Mr. Wayne F. Newton, takes its name from the Spanish "casa de" - meaning "house of", and the Indian word "shenandoah" - meaning "foreclosure". And while some of that is probably true, what is completely certain is that the house and surrounding grounds recently opened for public tours. I bought the ticket, took the ride, and here I share with you a glimpse into the life of the man they call "Mr. Las Vegas".
The tour begins in a visitor's center located a short distance from the estate. While waiting to be admitted to an ambitiously-sized theater (approximately 100 seats; there were 9 people in my tour group), you can view a number of items taken from the Aladdin hotel, in which Mr. Newton was once an owner.
After a short and genuinely interesting movie about Mr. Newton's time in Las Vegas, we were loaded onto a shuttle bus and driven to the estate. What many wonders lie beyond these gates? Spoiler: There's a monkey in there. Have I got your attention now?
The tour begins in a building adjacent to the faux airfield where Wayne's plane sits vainly on display. Also on display are many pieces of memorabilia related to Mr. Newton's USO work.
As the tour continues, you make your way through the exhibits and eventually end up aboard Wayne's plane. A short video explains how the plane was trucked to its current location from Detroit, but it makes little mention of the unpaid storage fees that precipitated the move. The tour guide explained that the entire interior of the plane, as shown here, was installed for the purpose of displaying it. The interior was apparently quite different when Mr. Newton was actually using the plane.
As the tour moves on, it pivots from planes to automobiles. Mr. Newton was fond of Rolls Royces.
Also on display in Mr. Newton's garage is this custom-built Mercedes. I'd like to think Mr. Newton's instructions to the car builder were, "I want you to start with the biggest set of headlights you can find, and just build the rest of the car around them." To the left you can see the Hummer that General Motors gave Mr. Newton, the last one ever produced.
Everyone's garage is packed with junk. Mine includes a 300 lb. tube television, and a box filled with water damaged issues of Cat Fancy magazine. Mr. Newton is no different in his accumulation of random things; his garage contains his childhood bicycle, a bass drum, the canoe used in the movie On Golden Pond, and a settee from the movie Gone With The Wind. Wayne's junk is better than mine.
Just off the garage is a room filled with Mr. Newton's costumes. I did not touch them.
"A singer's body is his instrument, and I believe in keeping my instrument finely tuned."
More costumes. Terrifying clown paintings. I didn't understand the connection, and I didn't ask.