The sun is setting on Brusally Ranch, a centerpiece of Scottsdale’s horse history. Some, including a member of the family that started it, are upset the ranch has been sold off to developers who plan to build houses on the land.
Others, like neighbor Larry Heath, want to make sure it’s preserved.
“To have this be the end of its lifespan seems to be a bit of a tragedy to me,” Heath said.
Many Arabian horses can trace their lineage back to those bred at Brusally Ranch by Ed Tweed, the founder and first president of the state’s Arabian Horse Association. Only six acres of the original 160-acre ranch remain.
Tweed’s daughter donated the family home, on 84th Street north of Cholla Street, to the Mayo Clinic in the mid-1990s. Since 1999, recipients of organ transplants at the clinic have spent time recuperating there. The 6,000-square-foot Spanish colonial-style ranch home is known as the Arizona Transplant House.
Shelley Trevor, Tweed’s granddaughter, said she is not happy about the sale.
“My mother had given it to the Mayo Clinic to be used for charitable means,” she said. “But money always wins, I guess.”
The house is no longer large enough to accommodate the number of patients seeking to stay there, said Tom Davie, executive director.
The nonprofit’s current facility houses patients from the Mayo Clinic who are recuperating from kidney, liver, heart, pancreas or bone marrow transplants. The transplant house, in return, asks $25 a night for room and board, if the patient can afford it.
“We provide lodging for patients and their caregivers, both pre- and post-transplant,” Davie said. “We’ve served several thousand patients in those years.”
The facility, however, only has seven rooms. So the decision was made to move to a new location to be built at the Mayo Clinic’s Phoenix campus at 56th Street and Mayo Boulevard. The first phase, set to open in fall 2008, is expected to have 12 rooms and cost about $4 million. The remaining phases of the new facility likely will be done over the subsequent five to seven years, and ultimately will have about 30 rooms, Davie said.
“We’re running well over 90 percent occupancy every month,” he said. “We’re having to expand to meet the needs.”
While the existing facility is about seven miles away from the hospital, the new transplant house will be right next door, he said.
“We have patients that don’t have transportation,” Davie said.
Tobi Taylor, owner of Coronado Ranch in Tucson, breeds Brusally Arabians and is writing a book about Tweed’s influence on the Arabian horse scene. Tweed’s importation of about two dozen Arabians from Poland in the 1960s put Scottsdale on the equestrian world’s map, she said.
“From the 1960s to the 1980s, Scottsdale was basically the place to be for Arabian horses,” Taylor said. “Three generations on, we’re talking about thousands of horses that have the Brusally bloodline. These horses are so good that they’re sending some back to Arabia to be race horses.”
One of Tweed’s legacies, the Arabian Horse Association, puts on the Arabian Horse Show at WestWorld each year, and city officials have said the event contributes more than $50 million to the economy.
His granddaughter, Trevor, a painter who lives in Cave Creek, said the Brusally name is a combination of the names of her uncle Bruce and her mother Sally. She said Tweed, an architect, designed the house in the 1950s.
Trevor said she’s disappointed that the Mayo Clinic isn’t respecting her mother’s wish that the house be used to help people.
“We wanted it to be used for the community or for the hospital. We had hoped that Mayo could find a purpose for it,” Trevor said. “Scottsdale, unfortunately, can’t do away with the past fast enough.”
Don Meserve, city preservation planner, said a subcommittee of the Historic Preservation Commission has been looking at property to see if it warrants protection, but needs to do more research.
“At this point I’d say the committee has shown some interest in it, but hasn’t taken any action on it,” he said.
The Brusally Ranch property was sold to Starpointe Communities in March. The Mayo Clinic is now leasing the transplant house.
Jerri Dogan, senior project manager with Starpointe, said the 5.7-acre lot will be subdivided to accommodate an additional four houses.
The transplant house will be sold, along with the 1.7 acres on which it sits, as a single family home.
Deed restrictions prevent its demolition for 15 years. After that, however, it could be torn down.
“It is our intent that the house would stay as is,” Dogan said.
Under the best case scenario, construction could start sometime in the middle of next year, she said.
Robin Meinhart, the city’s planning spokeswoman, said officials are awaiting a complete application from the developer before scheduling a Development Review Board hearing on the project.