A trip to Oracle State Park on Sunday, February 24, 2013, was well worth the 34 mile drive north of Tucson. Greeted by a volunteer in a tiny, one person guard house at the entrance to the park, directions were given to proceed to the Kannally ranch house.
The house stands out in stark contrast for a couple of reasons. While the adobe structure is very familiar in this part of the southwest, the unusual features are the Mediterranean styling and the bright white and blue colors not generally found in the southwest.
Passing through the open gate, walking across the large patio and entering what appears to be the home it its entirety is an illusion. This is just one small room of the house. It was once a solarium. This is a place where the ladies of the time would have retired to converse and to sew.
While this part of the home looks entirely appropriate for receiving guests, docent Mary Bast assures her group that the Kannallys would have been horrified to receive their visitors in this room. It just wasn’t done. Used by the staff and volunteers as an office/greeting area, the room has a new purpose. In the back between two windows and right in the middle of the office is an armoire that belonged to the family.
Walking down a series of very wide, spiral stairs to the next level and passing through a Moorish influenced archway brings you into the living area. It is here the family received their guests.
This was a time of dressing for dinner, tea and polite conversation. Guests would enter the room through the double doors and be received by Mary Kannally who was also known as Molly. Locals who knew her mentioned that she was shy. She would come out and greet her guests only to retire to the kitchen as quickly as possible under the pretense of having to prepare something. People from the surrounding area were often hired to serve at these soirees.
The house was built from adobe bricks that was made on the property. It is double adobe...there is a wall, air space and then another wall. This provides for better heat retention in winter and more efficient cooling in summer.
Two particularly interesting features of this room are the wood ceiling and the stone flooring.
The wood was brought by train to Tucson from Oregon and then hauled to the ranch. Likewise, the stone was quarried in Vermont, sent by train west to Tucson and hauled to Oracle. It was pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle with beautiful results. The docent explains that the Kannallys insisted that the floor be scrubbed, rinsed and then coated with condensed milk to bring out the shine.
Blueprints were begun for the home in 1927 and construction began in 1929. Five years later, the Mediterranean influenced masterpiece was almost done, save for a sleeping area.
The family continued to retire for the evening to the original homestead which is behind the ranch house. They intended to put a sleeping area onto the house in a space that is part of the patio. Years later, they decided they didn’t need to spend the money and were content to make the walk out back. They returned to the house every day for meals and to entertain.
Tours are Saturdays and Sundays only at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. From Tucson, take Oracle Road out to the town of Oracle, turn right to go into town and follow the signs to the park. A fee of $7.00 per vehicle helps support the park’s conservation and educational efforts.