Pyramid house in Lake County will rise from the ashes

By Gregory Harutunian For Chronicle Media

The north side of the Gold Pyramid house was ravaged by fire, and is now covered by tarp for protection from the elements. (Photo courtesy of Gold Pyramid Brands)

The Gold Pyramid house, a Lake County landmark since 1982 when it was erected, will be rebuilt after a July 17 fire torched one side of the structure and several floors inside.

The Onan family, owners of the pyramid and grounds, is presently in meetings with insurance company representatives and architects on the best way to proceed with restoration efforts, and eventual zoning ramifications, involving commercial or residential designations.

Located in the 37900 block of North Dilleys Road in Wadsworth, construction of the 55-foot-tall pyramid began in 1977 and was completed eight years later. The 17,000-square-foot pyramid was used as the Onan residence, sitting on 10 acres, and drew attention for its outer covering that consisted of 8,000 plates of 24-karat gold, at a cost of $1 million. The plates were removed in 2011, after neighbor complaints were registered that the roofing was blinding in sunlight.

“The fire insurance was subrogated and will be paid per the terms of the policy, although a final determination of the full amounts will not be made until a future time,” said Yolanda Fierro, the site’s executive assistant, and events coordinator. “There is still an ongoing investigation for the cause of the fire. They have to review the contents, find out what is gone, and what can be restored. Bids and estimates from restoration companies have been trickling in.”

“Getting the first phase done is important, before winter, so we can get the permits for what needs to be demolished,” she said. “We also needed to continue our planned events, such as the Oct. 27 Halloween Party, that was attended by approximately 1,000 people under a massive open air tent outside the structure, on the premises. With respect to the tours, Mrs. (Linda) Onan kept attendance records for this year, but they were lost in the fire, along with other documents and information.”

Firefighting agencies from multiple jurisdictions responded to a 911 call around 4 p.m. July 17, with reports of an elderly man in a wheelchair and a dog inside the structure. Fire crews were able to rescue the man, and allegedly the heavy smoke caused personnel to get lost inside the structure with its mazelike floor layout. Several firefighters received minor injuries, according to reports.

Crews battled the blaze for nearly three hours, and used a lake-like moat on the property to draw water for their pumper engines. Reports also indicate that constructions workers were present inside the structure, when the fire broke out. The third through fifth floors suffered severe damage from fire and smoke, and the north side of the pyramid was charred.

The pyramid house is built at a one-ninth scale of the Great Pyramid of Giza, and has three pyramid-shaped garages and storage buildings in a line nearby. A 55-foot replica statue of King Ramses II guards the entrance, and other curiosities include an underground chamber resembling the tomb of King Tutankhamun.

“It’s not known what the cause of the fire is, at this point,” said Fierro. “We’ll know more hard details in the coming weeks. They have to decide what will be rebuilt. It’s in a floodplain, as if they want to keep the pyramid as a residence, it will have to be lifted up. If they want to continue as a business, which is what we are leaning toward, we have to research and find out what codes are required.

“It will take time to sort out,” she said, “and it will be rebuilt.”

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