STORY BY Emily Ferber
photography by Jesse Lenz and Kevin Russ
Ranch 2810 isn’t so much a mansion as it is a vanishing act. A sleek expanse of steel, wood, and windows, at times it becomes hard to tell where the house ends and the natural environment begins.
The abstract, Modernist mansion is the last thing you’d expect in a ranch house. It’s as if a Brobdingnagian hand had uprooted it from Palm Springs and deposited it unceremoniously in the wilderness. The crisp white walls, rich wood floors, and chrome fixtures form a stark juxtaposition to the barren desert. It’s at once cool during the blazing day and somehow cozy when the frigid night sets in. A giant picture window in the living room gazes upon the Davis Mountains, 30 miles away, as if they were a painting on the wall. An organic orchard of fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs anchors the architecture on its vast 2,700 acres. The walls, adorned with prints of sweeping landscape by Argentine Marcos Furer, seem to disappear into the watercolored world beyond.
Perhaps it’s this external locus of control that drives the peace and quiet. Separated from the general buzz of town by six miles, past a mechanical gate and down two miles of gravel driveway, the 8,000 square–foot ranch house stands alone in the midst of the endless, arid landscape of the Chihuahuan Desert. As much as the house disappears into the landscape, so too do your obligations. Time here expands to fill the space.
That was architect Carlos Jiménez’s goal when he originally designed the house for Tim Crowley and Lynn Goode, two of Marfa’s patron saints of development. The couple, now divorced, were some of the initial forces behind Marfa's quickfire rise to art world fame. In 2011, they sold the house to Lindsay and Ford Smith, Jr., a couple from Austin, Texas, for whom it was something of an impulse buy. After visiting a number of West Texas ranches that didn’t move them, their realtor brought them to the Crowley house. “As we were driving away, my husband looked at me and said he thought we should do it,” Lindsay says.
"We didn't sit down and say, 'Let's create a destination resort,’” she continues. But later that year, Beyoncé called. Looking for a getaway for her posse, they wondered if they might rent the ranch. "We figured out a price and hired caterers. They had a blast."
And with that, a resort was born. The couple created a website and hired a permanent staff of three to look after the property and guests. They host about eight groups per year. The five stylishly appointed bedrooms are lush with tonal upholstery and fur accents. But even the well-stocked media room, library, and home gym seem extraneous compared to the effortless ease found in outdoor living area—complete with kitchen and fire pit—best enjoyed with ice-cold El Guapo cocktails, good friends, and Marfa’s lights twinkling faintly in the distance.