This is a very special ranch, probably one of the most unique you’ve ever seen… dear in more ways than one. Even better: I can talk about it from total personal experience! This is the Benini Sculpture Ranch in Johnson City, Texas, 142 acres of beautiful Hill Country terrain enhanced with gorgeous, artistic sculptures. The prevailing story is that it was once owned by former President Lyndon Baines Johnson, a Texas legend of course and the 36th president of the U.S. Yes, the town is named after him and the LBJ ranch is only a few miles from this ranch.
Now for the real story: we own some second home property near this ranch, and the story I’ve heard in Johnson City is that a part of this spread was LBJ’s — especially the quonset hut that was constructed to house the Secret Service. It is included in the asking price, currently being used as a fantastic art gallery and studio. Asking $2,647,000.
That is not to lessen the wonder of this property by any means. Matters not whether LBJ owned one square inch or all of the spread. It is a wonder and true value. First of all, the west Austin area is hotter than hot, with people flocking to the Hill Country just one hour west. So this ranch is only about 1.5 hours from civilization. Even closer, actually: my Starbucks is 20 minutes away in Marble Falls on Highway 281. But I digress. I have watched the lights of Fredericksburg and Johnson City from the patio outside this home, from the tip top of the highest (1800′) hill. The main house is 2300 square feet, constructed in 1997 of cedar and stone with great 360 degree views. In the woods is the 1100 sq.ft. guest house. The home itself is very manageable with three bedrooms, two baths, and the guest cottages provide guests with comfort yet privacy.
Down the road is our shared ownership ranch, The Preserve at Walnut Springs, where the owners often walk: spring fed creeks, water tanks, great views, horse-back riding, barns and a beautiful new swimming hole that just begs you to skinny-dip.
The owner of the Benini Ranch is a dynamic Italian artist named Benini who, along with his talents and precious wife, Lorraine, really changed the community by bringing in artists and sculpture from across the nation. Now downtown Johnson City is teaming with art galleries.
But here’s the scoop on why you need this property: it was LBJ’s “Dear” ranch. Nope, not a misspelling. Recall that in the pre-Twitter, FaceBook, e-mail and cell phone world, once upon a time, certain presidents managed to keep their extra marital affairs quite private and did not embarrass their wives as certain people do now. (Or ask for an “open marriage.”) Who would have thought that John F. Kennedy was capable of bedding a 19-year old intern who happened to have gone to the same college I did (not at the same time, of course); I thought JFK was, er, incapable of that stuff due to war injuries or whatever. LBJ did have a reputation of being somewhat of a ladies man. Big deal. I mean, this was his town!
And this ranch is where he “entertained” his “Dears”.