SHS’ Project Fits Citizen’s Vision


March 22, 2019


west-sedona-clouds2Being a sustainable community includes seeking out and saving our history – from archeological sites to historic homesteads.

So, I was excited to learn of a fantastic gift to the Sedona Historical Society:  the Schuerman house on Loy Lane off Lower Loop Road, recently deeded to the Society by Martha Loy, a Schuerman granddaughter.

Built in 1906 and unoccupied for more than 45 years, the house is directly related to a crucial time in American history and is a monument to the spirit of one of our earliest families. Securing the property and renovating it for all to enjoy is precisely the kind of cultural preservation Sedonans said they wanted in last year’s Sustainable Plan survey.

Henry and Dorette Schuerman built the home on a 40-acre plot they acquired via the Homestead Act of 1862.  Amid Civil War, the law granted federal land in the West at no cost to any citizen who had not rebelled against the United States and was willing to live on the property and improve it.  The Homestead Act created a massive incentive for Americans to relocate, triggering the population shift that ‘opened’ the West.

Schuerman and his wife Dorette had already established their family along Oak Creek when they acquired the adjacent acreage by homesteading from 1906-1913. Their property quickly became the center of civic and social life in early Sedona, when the area was called Red Rock.

The Schuermans opened the first school in the area in 1891, boarding the teacher at their home. By interring a young daughter on their land in 1893, they established the first local cemetery, which the Historical Society now owns and maintains. The family sold wine and produce, and Dorette hauled a piano from Flagstaff to entertain the few settlers. Henry was on the school board and served as a Yavapai County Justice of the Peace. Their home even became an informal post office for the scattered settlers.

When renovated, the house will be open for special tours. It’s fascinating to learn the original wood-burning stove is still in the house; even original wallpaper remains.

But with a leaking roof and a deteriorating foundation, the tab to bring the building back to a point of usability for tours and educational purposes will be about $200,000, which includes signage and a parking area. The Society is now fundraising to cover the costs.

All of us owe a vote of gratitude to Martha Loy for her generosity, and to the Sedona Historical Society for recognizing this incredible opportunity and taking on the daunting task of repair and preservation.

Sedonans can also be pleased that fighting for and preserving our history has a prominent place in the draft Sustainable Tourism Plan in the ‘Resident Quality of Life’ pillar, assuring we never forget the vital place our culture and history hold in a genuinely sustainable Sedona.

To learn more about the Sustainable Tourism Plan, visit

–Jennifer Wesselhoff