By Ann McCreary
The landmark Tice Ranch was sold to a local couple – Robert and Laura Howson – in an auction on Thursday (Oct. 16) for $3.108 million.
Robert Howson said Friday that the couple plans to live in the main lodge on the 305-acre ranch and will continue to manage the property much as it has operated in the past.
“The property will not be broken up. It will remain as a ranch, in agriculture. It’s not going to be developed,” he said.
The Howsons currently live about one-half mile from Tice Ranch in a home they purchased and remodeled after moving to the Methow Valley about seven years ago from Park City, Utah, where Howson worked in real estate.
“When we saw this property was going to auction we decided to look into it and ended up buying it,” Robert Howson said.
The ranch was auctioned with all furnishings and ranch equipment. The property includes a 15-bedroom, 20,000-square foot main lodge, where the Howsons plan to live. The lodge is furnished with turn-of-the century antique furniture from London.
The property also includes two smaller guest lodges, a caretaker’s residence, a swimming pool and Jacuzzi, horse stables, organic fruit orchards, a stocked fishing pond and 100 acres of irrigated hay fields.
A half-dozen prospective buyers registered and bid on the property for more than 30 minutes, according to Craig King of J.P. King Auction Company, which conducted the auction at the ranch. J.P. King specializes in high-end luxury homes, estates and ranches.
Inquiries came from New York, Arizona, Texas and Washington, and included a bidder by phone from southern California, according to King.
The Tice Ranch property was purchased and developed in the 1970s by Diane and Lou Tice, founders of the Pacific Institute, a Seattle-based corporation specializing in leadership development. The ranch served as a corporate retreat and event venue, and hosted many concerts, national and international gatherings, and celebrities over the years.
After Lou Tice died in 2012 the property was listed for sale until Diane Tice decided this year to auction the property and everything on it.
“As a tribute to the Tice family, we will continue to keep the Tice Ranch name with Diane Tice’s blessing,” Howson said.