The Elmax: Rest Home – Ranch – Retreat

If you’ve stayed in The Lodges’ first unit, named “The Elmax,” or have seen references to the 

“The Elmax Ranch” and wondered about its origin, here is a brief history of what would eventually become Cordillera Ranch, and we hope your stay at The Lodges connects you with this history and serves as your retreat.

Much of Cordillera Ranch exists on what was once “The Elmax Ranch,” which started with a few hundred acres and ultimately was expanded to encompass 7,200 acres of beautiful, rolling Hill Country land. In the early to mid-1900s, decisions regarding the buying and selling of area land were influenced by marriage, divorce, war and peace. As the following brief timeline notes, the original purpose of what later became The Elmax Ranch headquarters was to serve as a rest home or retreat for veterans returning from World War I along with others needing to escape the daily trials of life (this main structure was called the “Rainbow Rest Home”). One hundred years after the Rainbow Rest Home opened, The Lodges at Cordillera Ranch and its first unit, aptly named “The Elmax,” opens to those seeking a refuge from life’s demands and stress.


Irvin A. and Marie Oppenheimer of San Antonio purchase 209.1 acres at the north side of the Spring Creek.


The Great War/The Oppenheimers divorce in 1918 and Marie sells the property to Henry and Augusta Graham for $4K. Boerne rest homes open to care for vets with lung disease.


Henry Graham seizes a “golden opportunity” to build a 2.5-story building he would call the “Rainbow Rest Home.” The facility is most likely used as a retreat, rather than a rest home.


The Grahams sell the Rainbow Rest Home to Harvey C. and Alice McCormick for $6K, according to their youngest son, Stuart McCormick. The family kept the Rainbow Rest name.


The McCormicks sell Rainbow Rest to O.D. Douglas, an insurance executive from San Antonio, for $13K. The home was used for recreation, business entertainment and a private retreat.


“J. Ray” and Ethel McDermott buy the Douglas property, plus an additional 450-plus acre adjoining tract. McDermott was a well-known Houston businessman and civic leader, owning one of the largest offshore construction companies in the world. He immediately renames the home “Elmax Ranch,” derived from the names of his wife, Ethel, and their daughter, Maxine. McDermott invested a great deal of money in the ranch. Before his death in 1971, the McDermotts conveyed the ranch to their grandchildren, Carla Hull Northington and Ralph T. Hull. Mr. Hull sold his portion to a development company, which developed it into River Mountain subdivision. Carla Hull Northington (McDermott’s granddaughter) and her husband, Mac, wanted to see their land developed in a manner that preserved the history and character of the original family ranch. The Northington’s sought the advice of their close, long-time friend David Hill, who was in the business of carefully developing master-planned communities. Envisioning a perfect match that would carry out their mission of meticulous and thoughtful preservation, they then formed a joint venture with Hill to develop Cordillera Ranch to carry out this plan. Since 1997, this uniquely crafted partnership has maintained its principle of developing a community that preserves its original character, history and purpose as a retreat. 

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