At the end of April, it was announced the historic Rancho de la Osa in Sasabe, Ariz., is on the market for $1.9 million by Russ Lyon Sotheby’s. The 300-year-old ranch hosts one of the oldest buildings, a Spanish hacienda, in the U.S.
Home to the oldest building in Arizona, the Altar Valley was settled by Spanish Jesuits in the late seventeenth century in what was New Spain. The Altar Valley is now located south of Tucson, Ariz., and north of the border of Sonora, Mexico. Father Eusebio Francisco Kino and his followers built a mission outpost on Rancho de la Osa to be used as a trading post with local Native Americans and Mexicans.
In 1812, Rancho de la Osa contributed to part of the three million acre land grant given by the King of Spain to the Ortiz brothers of Mexico. In 1854, the ranch became a part of the United States after the Gadsden Purchase, which settled border disputes between the U.S. and Mexico. Colonel William Sturgis began renovations on the main house of the ranch shortly after the Gadsden Purchase. This building became the center of his ranching empire.
During the Mexican Revolution, Pancho Villa fired upon the ranch and a Mexican cannonball was found in the stucco walls of the main house, which remains as a display for visitors today.
In 1924, the ranch was transformed into a guest ranch for tourists. Louisa Wade Wetherill, a Navajo historian, originally traveled south looking for a lost tribe of Navajos. Although she never found the tribe, she started the Hacienda de la Osa Guest Ranch that began a tradition of guest ranches in the Southwest.
Throughout its history, Rancho de la Osa has hosted numerous celebrities and VIPs including political figures such as Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Supreme Court Justice William O Douglas, presidential candidates Hubert Humphrey and Adlai Stevenson and President Lyndon B. Johnson. It also has been visited by authors and celebrities such as author of Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell, cowboy stars Tom Mix and John Wayne, Cesar Romero and Joan Crawford. William B. Clayton even drafted the Marshall Plan in one of the casitas in 1948.
Rancho de la Osa is being used as a guest ranch. The ranch provides daytime activities such as horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, nature walks and bird watching. It hosts themed weekends with even more activities including cowboy cookouts, wine tastings, cooking lessons, cattle round ups and informal western dance instruction.
The property has an outdoor, heated swimming pool, hot tub, garden and massage service as well.
A large part of the ranch experience is the food. Rancho de la Osa has two dining rooms and four salons. Occupied since the early 1700s, the cantina, known as the “Old Adobe,” is said to be the oldest building in Arizona.
The 21 rooms of the ranch are made from ancient clay and are very elegantly and simply decorated with Mexican antiques. Each room has a patio that allows guests to view the surrounding mountains.
The ranch is also used as a venue for family reunions, birthdays, seminars, retreats, business conferences and weddings.
Rancho de la Osa now is on the market for $1.9 million by Russ Lyon Sotheby’s. The ranch was put up for sale by the current owners who explained that they just woke up one day and realized that they wanted to travel and do other things, which were restricted by owning such a large property. They have final and complete authority over the sale and would love for the ranch to maintain a similar vision because of its immense history.
Gary Brasher from Russ Lyon Sotheby’s states that there has been a range of offers, from people wanting to keep the property as a ranch to people looking to make it a private residence. But until any sale is finalized, the ranch is still open and taking guests.
Brasher emphasizes the importance of the ranch. “My first impression of the place was that it was a great place to get away from it all. You can be completely surrounded by the mesquite trees and the quiet, and then walk into a room that is impeccable and has all of the conveniences of hot water, fireplaces, beds, and more,” states Brasher.
He continues to explain the diversity of the ranch. It was originally a working cattle ranch and was a mainstay of ranching in the community. “It represents the diversity of interest. Anyone can be comfortable here from a cowboy to President Lyndon B. Johnson,” he exclaims.
Finally, he emphatically says, “To me, there are a handful of signature properties in Arizona and this is one of them.” He told the owners that he would be ecstatic to represent the ranch. As a fifth-generation Arizonan, he says it is a thrill because “it is just one of those properties.”