Cochise County is looking to sell 42 properties in a tax deed land sale via an online auction, including 37.67 acres that made up part of the original Miracle Valley propertya property with a notorious history in Southeastern Arizona.

The county board of supervisors has decided that they would like to auction this property and put this property back into private ownership, said Cochise County Development Services Department Director, Dan Coxworth.

The property was listed with a starting bid of $325,000, and has already received a bid at that amount.

A notorious past

In the 1960s, A.A. Allen ran one of the largest ministries in the country from the property, where he built housing, recreation facilities and church buildings.

Allen, a televangelist who claimed he could raise the dead, drew in diverse audiences from across the country with his sermons. He made waves in Cochise County when he desegregated his church during the civil rights movement.

When Allen died in the 1970’s, the Cochise County medical examiner ruled his cause of death acute alcoholism. However, his family speculated that his death may have been an assassination.

In a 2012 interview with KGUN 9, Allen’s son, Paul Allen, said, “the KKK threatened to kill him. We got so many death threats it was comical.”

After Allen’s death, Rev. Frances Thomas and her congregation from Chicago moved down to Miracle Valley.

But tension between the community and the desegregated Christ Miracle Healing Center and Church only grew worse, according to a 1980’s article from the Chicago Sun. Death threats and racist slurs targeting the church were put up on signs and sent in the mail.

On October 6th, 1981, two members of the church were arrested, according to the Chicago Sun. Later that day a bomb went off in a van, killing a church member on Highway 92.

Rev. Thomas told the paper the bomb was planted, but authorities at the time said the bomb was sitting on the lap of the man who was killed. They speculated they were heading to the jail where the two church members were held.

In 1982, Miracle Valley made national headlines again when the New York Times reported members of the church attacked a Tucson-based KOLD news crew with hammers.

All the tension came to a head on October 23rd, 1982. A shootout broke out when Cochise County Sheriff’s deputies went to Miracle Valley to serve traffic warrants, according to the Boston Globe.

Two members of the church were killed, another was paralyzed and 25 deputies were hurt.

Hope for the property’s future

Since this series of events in 1982, the land was passed from owner to owner.

Now, A.A. Allen’s great-granddaughter Rebekah (Allen) Jones and other members of the family hope to the purchase the land back.

This community hasnt really thrived since my great grandparents were in a place of helping lead the community, she said.

The property has been sold multiple times over the last 20 years and hasn’t been preserved. Most of buildings on the land have roof and structure damage from being exposed to the weather, fire and vandalism.

Its difficult to say why the property has been in flux and continues to deteriorate,” Coxworth said. “Its a large piece of property, there are a lot of buildings on the property they are very old. It could take a lot of resources to rehab this property.

The Miracle Valley Oasis Center, of which Jones is the president and executive director, is interested in acquiring the property and restoring it.

Its something that weve always wanted, and now that we have that opportunity, we want to take it, Jones said.

She said they want to create a conference and retreat space for people to get away and learn about their history.

I feel so much hope and encouragement looking around at the valley,” Jones said. “I see a lot of people who are willing to put in the work, who just need people to come alongside and say, ‘Lets do this together.’

Coxworth said the county isn’t allowing people on to the 37.67 acres while the auction is taking place, which is why Jones hasn’t been able to go into the remains of the buildings.

We feel confident that we will eventually acquire this property, and when we do, we want to be ready to just hit the ground running…so we can we can pour our very best into this property and get it operational for the community, Jones said.

The online auction ends Friday.