By Clayton Edwards
Bonanza ran for fourteen seasons. Throughout the show’s run, Lorne Greene portrayed Ben Cartwright, the patriarch of his family and owner of the Ponderosa Ranch. They worked almost constantly on the show. So, it’s no surprise that it and the homestead became integral parts of the late actor’s life.
So, when it was time for the Bonanza star to have a home built, Greene decided to recreate his Virginia City home from the series. That led to the construction of Ponderosa II in Mesa, Arizona. The house is an almost perfect replica of the ranch house on the Ponderosa in the series.
Currently, some huge Bonanza fans own and maintain the home. Luckily, we can check it out through the power of the internet.
Bonanza Star’s Replica Home
Ponderosa II is a shrine to Bonanza. It is packed with nods to the show as well as actual props both inside and out. The home is registered as a historic site by the city of Mesa, Arizona. Let’s take a look at what makes the house so special.
The Exterior of Ponderosa II
The first thing that will catch the eye of Bonanza fans is the exterior of Ponderosa II. It looks just like the Cartwright home. The outer walls are made from real logs. Stepping into the front yard of the Mesa, AZ home is like walking on to the set of the classic western.
Before entering the front gate, there are two notable things. First, there is a plaque bearing Lorne Greene’s face. It also explains the home’s significance and its connection to Bonanza. Then, there is the American flag waving from a pole just in front of the house. That flag bears thirty-four stars. This would have been accurate for the time in which the show was set.
The Interior – An Ode to Bonanza
Stepping through the front door of the house is the closest you’ll ever come to visiting the set of Bonanza. The front room of the home is an exact replica of the house on the Ponderosa Ranch. The fireplace and stairway are almost identical to what fans of the show saw every week. In fact, the home is so close to the Cartwrights’ home that Lorne Greene had to get permission from the studio to have it built. He even enlisted set designers from the show to help him make it more authentic.
One big difference is that the stairs don’t lead to the home’s bedrooms. Ponderosa II is a one-story house. So, the stairs lead to the attic. However, they designed the stairs to get gradually smaller as they go up. The door is also small. This gives the illusion of a much higher staircase.
The front room of the house also has some other nods to Bonanza. Some of the furniture there is straight from the set of the classic western. The most impressive piece, though, is Ben Cartwright’s desk which is tucked away in a comfortable alcove. There are other pieces of memorabilia from the show as well. For instance, screen-used hats and one of Ben’s vests hang from pegs in the home.
The dining room is also an exact replica of the Bonanza set. They really paid attention to detail here as well. In fact, the dining room features the same tea set and dining table used by the Cartwrights.
In many places in Ponderosa II, you can see still photos from the show. For the most part, they are to show how accurate the setup of the house is.