A piece of Arizona history is for sale.
Rancho de la Osa, with a history that dates back to 1725, sits along the U.S.-Mexico border in Sasabe, just south of the Buenos Aires National Refuge.
“It’s a signature property in Southern Arizona,” says Gary Brasher, associate broker with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty.
The historical property could remain a guest ranch, become a health and wellness spa or transform into a private estate, Brasher says.
The current owners, Richard and Veronica Schultz, bought the guest ranch in 1996 and now are ready to retire and travel the world.
“We just got older without realizing it,” said Veronica, 62. “We just can’t keep up the same pace.”
Owning and staffing a guest ranch is a 24-hour-a-day job.
“I’m the cleaning lady and I’m the pool boy,” said Richard, 68.
The property, which is about a 1ƒ-hour drive from Tucson, has nine buildings with 19 guest rooms, two separate houses, a cantina, two dining rooms and 33 wood-burning fireplaces. It sits on 239 acres.
The asking price is $1.9 million and includes all the rustic furnishings.
Richard Schultz says the ranch generated close to $1 million annually in revenue.
The couple bought it for $800,000 and never had to borrow money for the fix-ups, he said.
The property is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places so as not to restrict what owners can do with the buildings.
Aside from restricting improvements and upgrades, a historic listing requires the property be open to the public.
A new owner could make it smaller and more exclusive by retrofitting the rooms into suites, Veronica Schultz said.
The first building on the property was erected by Jesuit priests as a trading post to exchange goods with local tribes and as a place for traveling missionaries who were carrying on the work of Eusebio Francisco Kino.
The ranch was included in the Gadsen Purchase and bought by Col. William Spencer Sturgis in 1889, who established it as La Osa Ranch.
He added structures to the property and operated a cattle ranch empire.
Chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors James Finley bought the ranch in 1899 and increased its size.
La Osa changed hands several times after that and in 1927 was sold to investors and its operations were suspended due to the war.
Twins Dick and Nellie Jenkins reopened it on Thanksgiving Day 1945 as a guest ranch.
Three more investors and owners operated the ranch before Richard and Veronica Schultz bought it in 1996.
Spirits and the spirited
Rock stars, actors and politicians have all stayed at the ranch over the years, including John Wayne and Lyndon B. Johnson.
Many historical photos adorn the adobe walls of the main hacienda.
And, while they may not have made it onto the “wall of fame,” the ranch has had some other interesting guests over the years.
After an argument with her boyfriend, one woman woke the couple at 1 a.m. to say she was going to “walk back to town.”
Richard Schultz reminded her of where she was.
“It’s 45 miles to get to the middle of nowhere,” he told her, referring to the closest town of Three Points.
Some guests have made very particular meal requests, which the couple have tried to accommodate.
“But when they request sustainable salmon, that’s just amusing,” Veronica says.
“Yeah, it makes me wonder if they own a map,” Richard says, pointing out the desert surrounding.
Being that it’s nearly 300 years old, the ranch has its share of spirits hanging around.
Nellie Jenkins, who owned the ranch with her brother from 1945 to 1962, lived in Room 7 and the curtains in that room periodically open and close as if she’s keeping an eye on the property, Veronica says.
Nellie and her brother Dick Jenkins are both buried in the ranch’s pioneer cemetery.
Richard and Veronica Schultz hope the people who buy the property preserve its history and maintain it as a destination for guests from around the world.
“That was the best part,” Veronica said. “Meeting interesting people from all over and having them invite us to see their homes.”
The couple plans to “finally unpack” their boxes from 17 years ago when they moved to Sasabe from Scottsdale.
In the fall, they will travel to Croatia and then return to the Tucson area to settle into their home in Oro Valley.
They have traveled extensively around the globe and look forward to a U.S. road trip next year, Veronica said.
“Now it’s time to see America.”