About

Sin Vacas is a premier gated community of uncompromising quality and beauty, located in one of Tucson’s most desirable places to live – the foothills of the Santa Catalina mountains. Enhanced by natural desert landscapes, the beauty of Sin Vacas is evident as soon as one enters through the majestic stone gate.

Sin Vacas features an array of luxurious and distinctive custom homes by some of the area’s most respected builders. There is great shopping nearby and plenty of restaurants for all tastes. The superb location of our community provides easy access to all parts of Tucson including the university, country clubs, golf courses and art galleries.

History of Sin Vacas

El_Conquisador_Gatehouse-MemorabiliaFollowing the Gadsden Purchase, in 1853, the land that would eventually be known as Rancho Sin Vacas became part of Arizona-New Mexico Territory. Little is known of its use until after Arizona became the nation’s 48th State on Feb. 14, 1912. As state-owned property the land was used primarily for the grazing of cattle.

On August 7, 1928, three transactions occurred concerning the property. The State conveyed the land to Hazel Lovejoy. Then, Hazel and W. E. Lovejoy passed the land to D. T. MacDougall, who conveyed it to Mary Rumsey. Just over a year later, on August 21, 1929, Rumsey sold the property to Pima Canyon Properties. *

On May 28, 1936, William J. (Jack) Holliday, a steel manufacturer from Indianapolis, purchased the land from Pima Canyon Properties for use as a winter residence. It is believed that it was Holliday who fenced the land and gave it the name Rancho Sin Vacas – Ranch Without Cows. Holliday was a lover of desert wildlife. He placed water troughs throughout the property, and under his stewardship Rancho Sin Vacas enjoyed a sanctuary-type environment.

For easy access to the property Holliday used a dirt airstrip that he located along present-day Calle Sin Controversia.

Jack Holliday became something of a local luminary and an admirer of things southwestern. Prior to his death, in 1967, Holliday donated his considerable collection of southwestern memorabilia — including three photo albums of California and Arizona Indians — to the Arizona Historical Society. A handsome portrait of Holliday, painted by Leopold Seyffort, Jr., hangs in the entry hall of the Society at 949 E. 2nd St. The bronze placque below the painting notes: “The Arizona Pioneer Historical Society – In appreciation to W. J. Holliday – Friend of the Society – and patron of its publications – Scholar and collector of Western Americana – Donor of the Holliday collection.”

Developer Kelley Rollings acquired Rancho Sin Vacas following Holliday’s death. It was Rollings, and his Spanish-speaking accountant, Catalina Randall, who came up with such distinctive street names as Calle Sin Pecado (Street Without Sin), Placita Sin Muerte (Place Without Death), and Calle Sin Envidia (Street Without Envy).

In 1977, Kelley Rollings sold a fair portion of Rancho Sin Vacas to Bill Estes, Sr., a leading developer of Tucson real estate. Rollings retained the parcels that would become Villa Sin Vacas, Santa Catalina Villas, La Rosa (Brookdale) and Villa Milano, as well as some residential lots along Calle Sin Ruido. Lot # 235 remains a Rollings-owned parcel.

Bill, and his son, Bill Estes, Jr., recognized the unique character of Rancho Sin Vacas, and wanted to develop it with prime residential lots set amid the property’s established vegetation. Following the tracks platted by Rollings, The Estes Company built and paved the roads.

During this time, in the original ranch house, a surprise 40th birthday party was held for Bill Estes, Jr. “The roads were still under construction,” Bill recalls. “It was a formidable challenge for the guests to find their way to the party, while conspiring with my wife to keep it all a secret from me!” (The ranch house is located at the end of Placita Sin Lucha. It has been completely restored by Steven and Nancy Meyers.)

On Wednesday evening, September 20, 1978, at 5:30 pm. the Estes Company held a preview showing of the beautiful sites. At 6:45 pm, following a engaging presentation on the exclusive properties, non-binding reservations were accepted. “As I remember,” says Bill Estes, Jr., “the Phase One lots were gone within the next hour.”

Phase One consisted of Lots #106 through #195. Prices ranged from $33,000 to $47,000. Bob Brokaw was among the first to sign up, choosing Lot # 157 on Calle Sin Controversia. Other early purchasers were Joseph and Shirley Baca, who chose Lot #108 for their home on Placita Sin Lujuria.

As Bob Brokow recalls, “Before long the home sites were being cleared, foundations laid and stunning homes were being built.”

The dramatic SIN VACAS portico at the entrance to the development originally graced the El Conquistador Hotel that stood on Broadway.  Built in 1928, the fashionable hotel was torn down in 1968 to make way for the El Con Mall.   Kelley Rollings, also the owner of The American West Primitive and Modern Art Gallery,  dismantled the portico, numbered the pieces and stored them on his property.

When Estes Homes purchased the Sin Vacas land from Rollings in the 1970’s, Christopher Sheafe, the then president of Estes Homes, got word of the arch and asked that it be included in the land package.  There was much reluctance by local contractors to take on the project of reassembly.  Finally, a contractor who had done some restoration projects at The University of Arizona, agreed to take on the project when he found out that his uncle had worked on the El Conquistador Hotel.

Following months of careful reconstructing, the arch, which ws still in pieces, was rebuilt with a superstructure where it now stands.  From that point, it has stood proudly welcoming our residents and their guests to the SIN VACAS community.

More recently, in the 1990’s, a well known restoration architect, Bob Vindt, guided the resealing and restoration of the arch once again.  It remains our privilege to preserve it ensuring that this piece of Tucson’s history will continue to be enjoyed and admired not only by our residents, but the city of Tucson for generations to come.  An attendant is on duty 24/7 enabling the building to serve as a reception station for visitors as well as a “welcome home” for residents.