Rex Ranch near Amado was envisioned as an artists residency, but the group behind the idea couldn’t swing it.

Photos courtesy of Sarah Lee

The dream to turn Amado’s Rex Ranch into an artists residency is over.

Joseph Beyer and members of the board of the nonprofit Save Rex Ranch posted a notice late last month on the group’s website stating they were unable to raise the money needed to buy the property.

Beyer spearheaded the project, which was fueled with his fundraising expertise and passion for the crumbling adobe buildings on 50 acres. Beyer, based in Los Angeles and a frequent visitor to Southern Arizona, is director of Digital Initiatives for Sundance Institute.

“Despite unprecedented progress and unorthodox support from the bank, we simply could not find the resources in time to save this historic property and re-create it into our dream of a fully restored and re-imagined community cultural center,” said the website posting.

“Our final proposal to lease the property and begin the process of securing it was not accepted and we have now exhausted all options.”

Originally, when the group launched the fundraising campaign through last November, it was hoping to raise $725,000 to purchase the ranch by the end of the year. It was able to extend the deadline into February and negotiate that price down to $525,000.

An anonymous donor was expected to put the money down, but got “cold feet and backed away at the last minute,” said Katie Munger, who lives near the ranch in Amado and is a member of the Save Rex Ranch board of directors.

“It was unbelievable how many people knew the place,” she said. “It was a hard thing to let go of, but time was always our enemy with this project. In the end, we weren’t able to get enough money to make it happen.”

Munger said the group raised about $100,000, and donations are in the process of being returned.

In 2011, Rex Ranch, then a resort-spa, was listed for sale for $2.2 million. In 2013, with no buyer, it went into foreclosure and failed to sell at auction.

While the artists residency concept was an exciting one, said Munger, the overall goal was to keep the ranch from falling victim to age and vandalism and restore it to its original state.

She said she understands there is a buyer who is interested in the ranch (the agent for the sale did not return calls before deadline). If that happens and it is restored, she said, “our job was done.”

“When we began this humble project, we never would have guessed or even dared to imagine how wonderful and unexpected a journey it would eventually become,” the notice on the Save Rex Ranch website said.

“We knew all along we were trying something that had never been done before, but we’ll never regret believing that it just … might … have been … possible.”

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at or 573-4128.