Taking over America’s largest private estate
By Claire Wrathall
July 20, 2016
Like so many tycoons, Ted Turner, the founder of CNN (among other media, energy and hospitality enterprises), is a man of no little property. He owns a staggering two million acres of land, and since 1987, when he purchased the Bar None Ranch in Montana, has acquired a further 16 ranches across the western US as well as others in Argentina. In New Mexico alone, he has 1.1 million acres of pristine landscape to call his own. But his motives for acquisition on this scale are largely altruistic, driven by his commitment to the conservation of American wildernesses. As he has said: “We have an obligation to preserve and maintain our planet with the species we share it with.”
Inevitably there’s a limit to how much time he actually gets to spend on them so, as of this summer, paying guests are welcome at one his own homes, Casa Grande Ranch in Vermejo Park in New Mexico, which he acquired in 1996. At 590,000 acres (more than 920 square miles), this is largest privately owned tract of land in the US.
Though the seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom house (doubles from $850/£645, or it can be booked on an exclusive-use basis from $11,500) has just emerged from a wholesale renovation lasting four years, it’s not for those desiring leading-edge design. Rather the look harks back to the period in which it was built (1907-9) to plans by the architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee, whose protégés included Frank Lloyd Wright. Hence the traditional billiard room and the presence of a vaulted Great Room, complete with a Steinway concert grand piano and a stuffed mountain lion. If that sounds too much, there are seven more modest guest lodges and cottages in the grounds, with two to eight bedrooms, from $2,200 a night, including fishing privileges.