This Historic Ranch House, known as the Bowen Stone House, has stood tall in the canyons of the Tucson Mountains for nearly a century. Moving Southwest in the 1920s, Sherry and Ruby Bowen, transplants from Rockford, Illinois, hoped a change in climate might also result in better health for the increasingly sick, Ruby Bowen, who had serious heart complications. The move was made more natural by Sherry’s employment at the Arizona Daily Star.
Before settling in the mountains, they spent a number of years in town. Then, in 1931, they began work on their homestead. While work was being done on their new home, they took up residence in a nearby cabin (seen in the photo below). Eventually, their homestead would grow to a full 2,000 acres. A well was dug to provide all their water, and household plumbing is still visible today.
Gloria Bowen, their daughter, was born in 1943. A mere eighteen months later, Sherry took on a new job at the Associated Press, resulting in their moving to New York. The home remained vacant, except for the occasional vandal or transient, until it was incorporated into the Tucson Mountain Park, in 1983, and later recognized as a historical landmark by Pinal County, in 2014.
Large rocks collected in nearby canyons were used for the frame of the house and the two fireplaces. The roof, now gone, was made of tin (seen in the photo below). The house features large windows with stunning views of the Tucson Mountains (it was through one such window that a hungry mountain lion tried to enter as Ruby was preparing a family meal). Although the roof and interior walls were destroyed by fire in the 1970s, the divide between each room is clearly visible on the floor, even today. Aside from the two different fireplaces, only the bathtub remains inside the interior (seen in the photo below). What’s left of the beams near the ceiling has clear fire scarring. Nothing remains of the nearby cabin.
Interesting to note, but easy to overlook: The Bowen’s time spent in Tucson carried through both the Great Depression and World War II. Later, Gloria Bowen became a world renowned, ballerina. Due to Ruby’s health issues, they would never return to their home in the desert.
Not far from the Bowen residence you can find a cave with ancient pictographs, if you know where to look. I believe these are possibly of the Hohokam Culture.
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