History of Cordillera Ranch
From Humble Beginnings…
Before Cordillera Ranch became one of the premier communities in the Texas Hill Country, it created quite a story of its own. The humble beginnings of the Cordillera Ranch land started around 1914 when Irvin and Marie Oppenheimer purchased 20.1 acres for recreational use. Soon after, they divorced and sold the property to Henry and Augusta Graham. The Graham’s joined in with the surrounding area of Boerne, known as a health resort for consumptives, and built an impressive two and one-half story ranch house. Graham saw a great opportunity for this picturesque property overlooking the Guadalupe, and in 1920, the home became known as the “Rainbow Rest Home.”
In 1923, Graham sold the property and home to retired Army officer, Harry McCormick and wife Alice. McCormick was injured in 1918 and saw this spot as a great retreat and place to raise his family. The McCormick’s spent many years exploring the land, gardening, finding caves and enjoying the beautiful surroundings. In 1930, The McCormick’s sold the property and Rainbow Rest Home to O.D. Douglas, an insurance executive from San Antonio. Mr. Douglas used it primarily for business and recreation, and as his health failed over the years, he spent more and more time at his retreat by the river.
In 1942, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Thomas “J. Ray” McDermott bought the property from Douglas along with 450 adjoining acres. McDermott quickly renamed his new ranch “Elmax Ranch” after his wife Ethel and daughter, Maxine. He continued to purchase many more tracts of land, eventually totaling 7,200 acres. He renovated the old Rainbow Rest Home, and it became the headquarters for the ranch. The ranch housed Santa Gertrudis cattle, sheep and short-haired Mexican goats. The McDermott family enjoyed their time at Elmax Ranch and shortly before his death in 1971, Mr. McDermott conveyed the ranch to his grandchildren, Carla Hull Northington and Ralph T. Hull. Ralph sold his portion to a developer and it became River Mountain Ranch. The ranch home and 250 acres were sold to a local couple, Dr. John and Alice Anderson. Carla and her husband, Mac chose to enlist one of their friends, David Hill, to form a development company and create this one-of-a-kind place called “Cordillera Ranch.”