Louise Speaks: Continuing on our way, we come to another State Park. Oracle State Park is small and in a very small town, but it is home to the Kannally Family Ranch. In summary, Oracle State Park is a park, preserving 3,948 acres in the northeastern foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Oracle State Park serves as a wildlife refuge. The park has more than 15 miles of hiking trails, including 7 miles of the Arizona Trail.
For 75 years the Kannally ranching family owned the property that now comprises Oracle State Park. The original 160-acre ranch was purchased by Neil and Lee Kannally in 1903. The two brothers were later joined by three other family members, sisters Lucile and Mary, and brother Vincent, and the ranch grew to almost 50,000 acres. Initially, the Kannallys slept in small adobe cottages on the original 160 acres, but later a second cottage was built for Mary and Lucile. The present Kannally Ranch four-level adobe House was built in 1929-1932 and is of Mediterranean Revival Style with Moorish influences, patterned on Italianate villas of the 1920s. None of theKannaly’s married so there was no one to leave the ranch to. Following the death of Lucile Kannally in 1976, the will of Lucille Kannally gave the 4000-acre ranch to Defenders of Wildlife with the stipulation that the property be perpetually used as a wildlife reserve. The Defenders of Wildlife, later deeded the ranch to the Arizona State Parks Board. Much work had to to done just to be able to get to the house. There was no road available that would handle the public attendance they were anticipating. Engineers worked diligently to find a way to create access to to the home and not harm the refuge. Finally Oracle State Park was officially dedicated and opened to the public October 1, 2001.
The Kannally Ranch House is now a historic home museum with original art painted by the Kannaly brothers and historic photos. Construction workers will be able to appreciate the craftsmanship of this home in the 1930’s. Much of the painted walls and archways was done by Lucile and reflects her Catholic Irish upbringing. Since it has become open to the public, the State Park has added a few modern amenities like a window air conditioner and a gas stove. The property can be rented and used for weddings and other gatherings. The state park also offers educational programs for children grands 1 thru 6. The Oracle Odyssey and Oracle Adventure are interactive programs that encourage students to connect with the local natural and cultural history. These programs bring ecological concepts learned in the classroom into a real world context.
This was a very interesting and informative tour. Even the plant life on the grounds have a purpose. The Friends of Oracle have many dreams and plans of restoring the home and making improvements. They would even like to restore the sleeping quarters to what they were like in the 1900’s. Of course this all takes time and money, but the determination is there. I loved this old house. The grounds were so quiet and serene and you could hear birds chirping at every turn. For being such a small state park, we spent more time here than any other park. Oracle State Park, gets an A rating, and if you are in the area you should stop by.