Buy the Texas Ranch Where LBJ Hid from the Press

Real History |

Just one week after taking the oath of office in the wake of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson bought a secluded parcel of land in Blanco County, Texas, to use as a private retreat from the stresses of life in the White House.

Today, LBJ’s former ranch on the property—377 Shiloh Road in Johnson City—is on sale for $2.8 million, including a three-bedroom, two-bathroom dwelling built on the foundations of Johnson’s former home. Located on 142 acres of Johnson’s original 800-acre spread, the property boasts stunning panoramic views of Central Texas.

In the spacious main house, Johnson’s bedroom and bathroom have even been preserved, including a massive stone fireplace and wall-to-wall windows in the master bedroom and the president’s original tub in the stone-tiled bathroom. A smaller cottage on the property, which has one bedroom and one bathroom, housed the Secret Service during Johnson’s stays at the ranch.

After he announced he would not seek reelection in 1968, amid widespread protests over his administration’s Vietnam War policy, an exhausted Johnson left the White House and retreated to his happy place: Texas hill country. According to a 1973 report in the Atlantic, he gave strict orders to his staff to keep the press far away.

LBJ did not stay idle in retirement, however. He supervised the construction of the LBJ Presidential Library complex at the University of Texas, authored a book (The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency, 1963-1969) and, of course, worked the land on his beloved ranch.

This was not the secluded hilltop hideaway on sale today, but the nearby 330-acre property on the Pedernales River that Johnson purchased from his aunt in 1951, when he was still a U.S. senator. During his presidential administration, the LBJ Ranch (now part of the LBJ National Historical Park) became known as “the Texas White House,” as Johnson conducted so much business there, including receiving many world leaders.

After Johnson’s death in 1973, his wife, Lady Bird, continued to live at the ranch part time until her own death in 2007.

Johnson owned the land that contains 377 Shiloh Road until 1971. The current owners, the Italian artist Benini and his wife, Lorraine Benini, purchased the property in 1999. “We responded to the beauty and high energy of the landscape, the feeling of living on top of the world—as well as the easy access to Austin and San Antonio international airports,” Lorraine Benini said of the purchase.

The Beninis converted a 12,000-square-foot hangar on the original property into art galleries and an educational space, which would become known as the Sculpture Ranch. Open for some 15 years, it welcomed some 2,000 to 3,000 visitors a month. The Beninis now live about 25 miles north of the ranch, according to the Dallas News, and the property currently stands vacant.

DMTX Realty, a sales team affiliated with Coldwell Banker, has the $2.8 million listing.

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