Help us Preserve the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park

How Art and History First Met in Tubac-William Caswell Morrow

    Art and history make Tubac a special place. These two elements combine to form the basis for the modern Tubac with which we are now familiar and can be credited to William Caswell Morrow, who, acting upon a suggestion from his eldest daughter, first landed his Piper Tri-pacer airplane here in 1956. Though Morrow was in Tubac for less than five years, he, along with Ross Stefan, envisioned and created the unique and beautiful art colony many of us call home today.

William Morrow met Ross Stefan on that first visit, handing him $1000 and famously instructing him to “Buy me something, kid”. Stefan made the arrangements for Morrow to purchase Lowe House, to which he made improvements including adding a swimming pool. Seeing potential, he also bought the historic Otero Ranch with the idea of making it into a country club. When he sold the ranch to a group of investors, which included Bing Crosby, his idea became a reality. Morrow bought a great deal of land in the area and the first to be developed was the twelve lots of Tubac Heights on the other side of the highway. He worked with the Recorder’s Office in Nogales to insert deed restrictions on all the land he bought and planned to re-sell, which included a ban on businesses in the residential areas, that only private one-story single family homes be built, and that both structures and landscaping must meet aesthetic standards of Spanish Colonial style.

Morrow also developed a plan for a central Tubac plaza, built the arch at the entrance to the Tubac Golf Resort, and encouraged a number of artists to move to Tubac. With his help, and that of the Garrett family, Frank and Gay Griffin donated the land that became Arizona’s first state park in 1958. This is when Art and History actually met in Tubac, and they have been co-existing happily ever since. Morrow’s grandson recalls what must have been the first or second Tubac Festival of Art and how ecstatic his grandfather was about everyone coming together and that things were finally rolling. Morrow, after working hard with much imagination and enthusiasm, left soon afterward, leaving the details and management in the capable hands of others. He had accomplished what he had set out to do.

The featured photograph shows Fr. Pat Callanan in front of the Tubac Art Center in 1959 with William Morrow, Sid Cedargreen and Ross Stefan.  This article takes its facts from a more complete version by Shaw Kinsley which appeared previously in The Villager.

ARTISTS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS!  We are always needing your donated images for our Tubac Presidio Park online merchandising store.  We use your images on products for sale to the public and all proceeds go directly to preserving Tubac Presidio State Historic Park.  See our Store at*.  Contact to find out how to email copies of your artwork or photographs.  You and/or your website would be promoted in the product descriptions in the store itself and on our blog as well.  We would appreciate it so much.  Thank you.

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