Luna County Ranchette Lots
Carter Kirk, the land developer, moved to New Mexico and became involved in real estate, after serving in both World War II and the Korean War. He later broke ties with commercial Realtors and launched out on his own as an independent broker in 1954. Two years later, he served a term as Tax Assessor for Bernalillo County.
In January, 1962, the "Triple-S Land Corporation" was formed (with an office in Deming, Luna County, New Mexico) under the general management of Mr. Kirk. Triple-S Land Corporation promoted the sales of "Deming Ranchettes", both nationally and internationally. Three years later, Select Western Lands (Incorporated) was created with Kirk as president. Select Western Lands took over the operations of Triple-S Land and expanded the land development to include sales of "Sunshine Valley Ranchettes". By the mid-1970s there were about 80,000 half-acre ranchette lots in Luna County. It was primarily a financing business since the 1/2 acre lots were not large enough to provide space for a well and septic. Done before environmental assessments were required, people actually thought the 18 square mile plat called Sunshine Valley Ranchettes with about 17,900 lots wouldn't need public sewer and water! A Sunshine Valley Ranchette sales brochure (click link to see notations on the inaccuracies of this historical "false ad") provides a glimpse into the sugar coated sales techniques used to attract buyers. Thousands of people from all over the country bought these desert properties.
Most of the folks who invested in the ranchettes, were not familiar with either the arid conditions or life in the American southwest. So, a group of twenty-two local ranchette owners gathered together to discuss forming a self-help organization to address the issues that newcomers would inevitably have. Anyone who had purchased a ranchette would be deemed eligible for membership, whether living in Luna County or not.
The fledgling group met in a building at the corner of Gold and Pine Streets on May 26, 1972, adopting the name, "Luna County Ranchette Owners Association" or LCROA. By Laws and a Constitution were authored and later ratified by the committee of members.
Select Western Lands initially promoted the Luna County Ranchette Owners Association in an advertisement letter, and the membership grew to 500. The incentive to become a "Charter Member" was offered to anyone who joined LCROA by October, 1972. This brought the membership (combined local and out-of-state) up to 618.
LCROA began publishing a quarterly newsletter, "The Roadrunner", in April, 1973. The Roadrunner kept members informed of the association's activities, events, fundraisers and even had an advertising section. It also included some news highlights from the City of Deming and Luna County.
Unfortunately, LCROA did not have a home. The organization was forced to meet in numerous places - private homes, Scout Hut, State Highway Building, Westminster Hall and even the then recently built Senior Citizen's Building. The Board of Directors had to meet either at Morgan Hall or in the homes of other members.
On May 15, 1973, the LCROA acquired a parcel of land on Rockhound Road. The association then had to come up with the money to build the LCROA Hospitality House. This required an incredible amount of fundraising.
"Square inches" of land were sold. Five blocks (888 square inches each) were reserved in one area of the Rockhound Road parcel and offered to the public for just $1.50 a square inch. Each square inch of ranchette came with a gold-seal deed. These made cute gifts for out-of-state family and friends. Sixty percent of the sales were donated to a local hospital fund, and the remaining 40% went toward building the Hospitality House. (Around this time, "donation bricks" to build a permanent meeting place were also being offered for sale.)
A thrift shop, under management of the local Humane Society, was going to have to find another organization willing to take over its operation or shut down. Members of the LCROA held a meeting in November, 1977, voting to "take it on" as an additional fundraiser. Ruth Smith was appointed the thrift store's first manager. For 41 years the shop was entirely staffed by volunteers, and families in need of clothing or other household goods are often given these things from the store. In 2018 the board of directors voted to donate Past Treasures Thrift Shop to Deming Silver Linings, a non-profit working to provide support to our resident homeless men and women. Today the shop is going strong at 214 South Copper Street, Deming.
Also in 1977, a defunct company (located in the Industrial Park) offered the LCROA 70,000 blocks and bricks at a
"price [they] couldn't refuse". There was one stipulation, however - all the bricks had to be removed from the Industrial Park within 30 days. Members and volunteers offered their time, trucks and labor. After many donated hours and much hard work, every building block had been relocated to the association's Rockhound Road property by deadline. There were so many bricks and blocks, a surplus was left. These were later sold to help pay for other construction needs.
The Hospitality House officially opened on March 15, 1979. A membership meeting and potluck dinner were held with 110 people in attendance. A public dedication and open house followed on May 19, 1979.
Around this same time, the Luna County Ranchette Owners Association began hosting the "Annual Old Time Fiddlers Contest". It was a popular competition with many fans and repeat attendees. Each year, a $500.00 scholarship was given to a deserving Deming High School graduate from the proceeds of this event. The last contest was held at our Clubhouse in 1994.
Spaghetti-supper fundraisers were started so that neighbors might get to know each other better and promote fellowship in the community. Bill Lloyd, Harold Koepsel, their spouses and a few other couples put these first dinners together, beginning in August, 1979. Countless volunteer hours were donated in preparing and serving food - not to mention the time spent on washing dishes, cleaning the kitchen and dining areas.
On November 20, 1986, the mortgage on the Hospitality House was finally paid off. Members later gathered together for a special open house and a "mortgage burning" celebration was held.
Decades passed and many of LCROA's dedicated folks crossed into their golden years. A few even crossed over to the "other side". Some ranchette owners either sold or transferred their Luna County properties to friends or family and over the years, membership dwindled.
In 2015 with membership down to less than 30 members the clubhouse was sold and in 2020 LCROA put $110,000 from the sale proceeds into a Donor Trust Fund with the Grant County Community Foundation to be used to support future non-profit activities in Luna County.
Today we continue our service as advisors to Luna County Ranchette owners who live all over the world according to county tax records. Buying, swapping, selling of acreage laid out as ranchettes, continues today.
The Original Founders/Members
Constitution & By-Laws:
First Elected Officers:
President - William Smith
Vice President - Elmo Crozat
Secretary - Mabel Anthony
Treasurer - Josie Chin
Corresponding Secretary - Mary Lou Browning
First Board of Directors:
Rose Marie Gruenwald
Ronald Pannell Ludwig Richter
Information provided by:
Fay, Elaine M. ; Lloyd, Leora;
Wahmann, Diane, ed. "History of Luna County
Ranchette Owners Association". Deming, New
Mexico: November 10, 1990. Luna County Historical Society. "This History of Luna County". Deming, New Mexico: 1978. Pages 51 and 269.