Retired Army Major Ralph DeRose built this motel, which opened in January of 1947. It was originally named Hacienda Huachuca, which is Spanish for “House of Thunder,” and it was the first modern motel built in the town of Tombstone. Mr. DeRose owned and ran the motel for several years until he sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Russell in the 1950s.
The Russells made many changes to the motel, including a pool, a rose garden, and a stucco wall around the north and west property line. Several photos depict Mrs. Russell and a friend painting stagecoaches, horses, and desert scenes on this wall. Mrs. Russell was an artist and left two of her original paintings hanging above the fireplaces in two of the rooms. However, years of nature eventually took the wall down in the 1980s, and neglect claimed the rose garden soon after.
Thanks to the motels modern amenities and diligent management, the Russells were able to attract famous stars such as John “The Duke” Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Glen Ford, and Hugh O’Brian during the filming of movies like Red River and McClintock. John Wayne insisted on a barbecue to entertain his friends, and Maureen O’Hara demanded a bathtub, unwilling to submit to the small steel shower stalls then available in all the rooms. “I shall not stay unless I have a tub,” she declared upon seeing her room. To this day guests can enjoy a bath the same unique antique bathtub in the Maureen O’Hara suite.
Mr. Russell had only one hand and did most of the repairs and upkeep himself. After he passed away, Mrs. Russell had difficulty maintaining the property and it fell into disrepair. A niece from Indiana inherited the motel after Mrs. Russell’s passing, and she ran the motel until 1998. At this point, the motel was sold to the Remsiks, who renovated the property and renamed it from Hacienda Huachuca to the Sagebrush Inn.