Southeastern Arizona historic landmark preserved

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Diane Drobka: The Empire Ranch House will have its grand reopening March 23.

Empire Ranch House grand reopening set for March 23

Sonoita – After more than a year of structural stabilization work, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Empire Ranch Foundation (ERF) are commemorating the preservation of the historic Empire Ranch House with a Milestone Celebration on Saturday, March 23.

Festivities, including a grand reopening ribbon cutting and free tours of the 1870s Ranch House, begin at 10 a.m. and conclude at 1 p.m. Cultural landscape historian Robin Pinto will present “Empire to Las Cienegas National Conservation Area.”

The Empire Ranch House is a 22-room adobe and wooden frame building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Those who have visited in the past will remember the shoring and bracing that had supported the unstable walls. Now, thanks to extensive structural work, those are gone and the ranch house is ready to stand for another century.

Contributed Graphic: Empire Ranch House floor plan

“It’s not every day that we get to celebrate major achievements like the preservation of a piece of America’s heritage,” said Lahsha Brown, ERF Administrative Director. “This is an opportunity to pause, reflect, and show gratitude for the many people who have been a part of making this project happen.”

Restoring the ranch house is another step in keeping this important piece of western history alive. The ERF works in partnership with the BLM to share that history. Their stated goal “to protect, restore and sustain the Empire Ranch historical buildings and landscape as an outstanding western heritage education center,” will certainly benefit from the restoration. The design and construction of new interpretive exhibits will be an important future step.

The Empire Ranch sits at the heart of the 42,000-acre Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (NCA), public lands acquired and administered since 1988 by the BLM Tucson Field Office. These rolling grasslands and riparian ribbons are located about 50 miles southeast of Tucson, just 10 miles north of Sonoita.

The NCA is open daily to visitors from sunrise to sunset. The Visitor Contact Center is open during docent tours, volunteer work days, and special events.  For more information about the Empire Ranch Milestone Celebration and a map, visit the ERF website at www.empireranchfoundation.org or call 888-364-2829.

Editorial Note: Remarks will be made by former U.S. Representative Jim Kolbe, Pima County Supervisor Steve Christy, former BLM State Director Dean Bibles, and BLM Tucson Field Manager Jayme Lopez. Other dignitaries will include David Gowan, Sr., State Legislator District 14, and Ray Carroll, former Pima County Supervisor, now Pima County Judge.

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