A Brief History of the Property
Welcome to Casa Paloma! The property was part of the original Baca Float #3 holdings through an 1821 land grant from Spain to New Mexico sheep owner Luis Maria Cabeza de Baca. The area became home to settlers and the members of the Baca family and after the US courts evicted the original settlers it was eventually purchased by Tal Pendleton and Frank Doughtery in 1929. This house was supposedly then sold to Harry J. Mallory, whose initials are still present in the light fixture on the back patio as well as next door at the old Baca Float Ranch headquarters. Hubert Merryweather then bought into the ranch and ultimately sold this property to Charles Day, whose daughter and granddaughter still live at the west entry to Santa Gertrudis Lane.
In 1989, Don and Doris Simmons purchased the property as a retirement location from their job for 17 years as managers of the Circle Z Guest Ranch in Patagonia, AZ. After Don died unexpectedly in May of 1991, their daughter Katie and her husband Ray Sayre moved from Tucson with their 18-month-old son, Colton to live with Doris and help her manage the sprawling, old ranch house. Thus began a long process of adding to and refurbishing the house and surrounding property. Katie and Ray had an additional son, Travis, and both had jobs in Tucson and Green Valley for the ensuing years. Doris moved to Tubac and then Green Valley, but still owns part of the house and supports its renovation. Katie and Ray have remained in the house and worked on weekends and spent considerable funds and energy to continue to upgrade the property, which they converted to the Casa Paloma B&B in 2018. The following summary describes the work they have done over the past twenty-seven years.
Front Porch Entry and Foyer
The original front porch was only four feet wide and just a tiled stoop under a small roof. There was a single exterior white door with simple side lights on each side. The current porch walls and brick were added during the foyer remodel in 2007. The doors are alder wood from Mexico. When the old door was removed, the actual door opening was found to be a round arch painted a rich dark blue (as we could see from the old edges). Rumor has it that the Chinese in the area may have originally put this in. We have also thought that the foyer was originally just a porch as there were two green bottle glass windows in the south wall and a glass doorway left into the living room. The circular sky light above was there when the house was purchased. The floor was originally tiled with the same Mexican concrete tile that was on the front porch, but it was cracked and stained, so it was replaced with Saltillo tile in the 2007 remodel.
Mourning Dove Suite
Going down the narrow hallway to the right of the foyer, you pass the former master bathroom and walk-in closet. This bathroom was completely redone in 1992, relocating the claw-foot bath tub that was surrounded by Mexican tile and enlarging the shower as a walk-in with a small seat. Ray did this work including the tile, new cabinets, and Saltillo tile. The closet was upgraded in 1998 and includes a back wall of cedar planks.
The bedroom originally was made of concrete block with no insulation. There was no flue in the fireplace, just a plywood sheet across the front to keep out the draft and there was old paneling covering the area to the left of the fireplace. The door to the left led to an old Arizona room and there was an additional door in the southwest corner to an outside kiln or shed area. In those early winter mornings, you could see your breath when you were lying in bed.
In 1992, Ray totally gutted the room, furring out the walls, adding new insulation, new Anderson double-paned windows, wood ceiling, the shelving unit next to the fireplace, and upgraded fireplace. This required him to lie on his back with a diamond saw for a day to enlarge the opening and retrofit a fireplace insert. In 2008-9, the skylight and upholstered valances were added along with a new paint job.
Old Porch and Family Room Addition
Moving through the glass door, you’ll note the wood transition that is elevated. Originally, this door led to an old Arizona room style porch that was approximately six inches below the level of the bedroom and led to the back yard. In heavy rains, the yard flooded and filled the porch with water and mud. As soon as Ray and Katie got settled in 1991, they began to add a family room so that their children could have an area to play and have toys that was separate from the older part of the house. They asked their friend Linda Moore of Mas Y Mas, to draw up the plans for the new addition, which was added in 1992 and included a Jacuzzi spa room, the family room, another bedroom, and a bathroom.
Family Room and Wet Bar
The family room was added to the house in the 1992 addition. This whole area was originally the back yard, and the east wall is the original exterior. When this room replaced the old Arizona room, it allowed access to the guest room without having to walk through another room and bathroom. The carpet was installed, and all of the cabinets and shelves were custom built. The old furnace was replaced with a new HVAC unit to cover the new addition, plus the what is now the Mourning Dove Suite and the entryway.
The first part of the new addition was a room for an indoor Jacuzzi with pop-up windows and a nice view of the horses in the pasture next door.
White-winged Dove Suite
As you pass into the first guest room, you can see the thickness of the original adobe exterior wall. The painted concrete floor is original. Katie and Ray stayed in this room during the remodel in 1992 and there were windows on three of the four walls so getting used to the trains in the middle of the night was a challenge. The window to the right (west wall) was covered up with the addition. The bathroom was completely gutted and the claw foot tub from the master bath was refinished and added to this bathroom. You can see the original exterior windows to the left, and there was a door from another bedroom in the northwest corner. That was the only interior access to the rest of the house.
Inca Dove Room and Bath
As you move back through the family room, the second guest room is on the right. The 1992 remodel included covering up the doorway into the bathroom (behind the current door), converting one of the exterior windows into the new bedroom door, covering the other bedroom window and angling the wall to allow for the passageway into the foyer, removing the green glass exterior windows in the north wall and finally, covering the doorway from the living room to change the access to the bedroom off the new family room. The exterior window is original with the old crank casement.
The hall bathroom was added with the 1992 remodel and Ray did all the tile work in this bathroom. All the cabinets were custom made and note the small steps that were made to match so the little Sayre boys could reach the sinks!
Niche and Passageway Back to Foyer
As you proceed past the hall bathroom, the closet in front of you housed the original furnace, which was replaced. This provided a nice new closet for storage. The niche on the right and the short-angled passageway were created by removing the west bedroom window and the north foyer window.
Living and Dining Room
As you pass back through the foyer, you enter the living room and dining area. The original fireplace was flat against the wall with Mexican tile and a 1-inch tiled hearth. The beams over the windows and doors were covered with plaster and painted. The ceiling was flat across the whole room and there was flocked wallpaper under the paint on the east wall. The floors were covered in the original concrete tiles, which were cracked and stained as well.
Shortly after moving into the house in 1992, Katie and Ray hired someone to sandblast the beams and remove the paint and plaster. To their surprise, the beams were mesquite and very different. You can see the brands of some of the locals from the era carved into the beams as well.
Since 1992, Ray had been carefully watching a crack in the ceiling that ran the length of the room. In 2007, he noted that crack was getting considerable larger and decided that it was no longer safe. He proceeded to tear out the ceiling to find that there were no beams and approximately 1 ton of plaster was balanced on two by fours strung across the room. After pulling down the ceiling, they hired a contractor to redo the ceiling, add skylights for additional light, convert the bedroom door in the west wall and add mesquite shelves and a cabinet for electronics. At the same time, they removed the old porcelain stove insert and replaced it with a metal firebox and river rock front. The hearth was built up and the old tile was replaced with Saltillo. This remodel was done in conjunction with the foyer and front porch. There was still no heating or cooling in the room, but they did add ducting for an eventual upgrade.
The dining room table and chairs are heirlooms from Katie’s great, great grandmother on her father’s side in New York and it has seven leaves for expansion.
Back Patio and Yard
The original back porch is still visible, but the area beyond was all dirt. There was an old peach tree in the middle of the courtyard that uprooted in a wind storm in the 1990s. (A picture of that tree is on the living room table.) After that, Ray and Katie opted to brick in the whole area and add the two large pots for drainage from the roof. During monsoons, quantities of water shoot off the roof into the pots, which have drainage pipes leading under the patio to the rock area to the south. That rock is 16 feet deep and surrounds a sump pump that activates during the rains to pump the water to the trees beyond the wall on the eastern edge of the property. The mesquite tree in the back yard is quite old and recently one branch was repaired with a metal rod to hold it together after a lightning strike several years ago. You can see the well head just beyond the short garden wall around the yard. The water table is at 16 feet, but the well was just completely redrilled to 200 feet in August 2018.
The garage outbuilding was added in 2016 to include a workout room for guests, storage, a two-car garage, and a lift platform/pad for working on the vehicles.
The casita was originally a carriage house for the property and the old arched entrances can be seen around the exterior window. Doris lived in the casita until 2006 and the kitchen alone has been remodeled three times. In 2015, Ray noted that the ceiling in the room on the east side of the building was sagging and he redid the ceiling and walls in that room along with adding new splitter units for heating and cooling. The bathroom was also remodeled to include a walk-in shower. In the bedroom, two long closets were replaced with a single walk-in closet in the northwest corner. They installed wood floors and finally added a screened-in back porch to complete the project.
Utility Room and Guest Laundry
Moving to the north from the casita, you can see the new utility room that houses a washer, dryer, and supplies for guests. This was originally a breezeway with a door on the east wall that allowed access to the side yard. On the north wall in the corner to the left was the original door to the kitchen. There is a small cabinet in the south wall that can be opened to reveal the original adobe walls that have been covered up.
The kitchen was the last part of the property that had never been remodeled, but received just paint and repairs since the Sayres moved in. The project included demolition of the old kitchen off the side of the house to the dirt and two adjoining walls on the west and the south wall of the utility room. The demolition was done in February of 2017, but the project didn’t get underway until August.
The new kitchen includes the cooking area, a coffee/wine bar, a new pantry, a laundry for the business and finally a mudroom for the dogs (and Ray!) The Dutch door and barn door were made by hand by Matt Beemer and crew from reclaimed wood from a local house demolition. The countertops are also custom made of cedar brought in from Oregon.
As you go out the mudroom door, you can see the straw bale 6-foot wall that runs the length of the property line and was built in 1992 by Ray with help from members of the community during a wall-building picnic. The huge pines and cottonwoods were trimmed this year to allow for more light and healthier growth.
We hope you have enjoyed knowing the history of how this property became Casa Paloma B & B.