A Hidden Gem in the Desert

The Cottage—a charming thrift shop with a unique story

Kathy Sinnott

Nestled beneath the Catalina Mountains is a vintage thrift shop offering more than the contents inside. A tiny house sits atop Magee Road, near Immaculate Heart Academy, where shoppers delight in gently used items. The Cottage showcases treasures in themed rooms such as a women’s boutique, dining area, and a man cave. Outside storage bins hold larger collections, including furniture.

Shoppers are captivated by the charm of this adobe structure and its surroundings. School children laugh in the distance and panoramic views provide local flair. Patrons marvel at the array of eclectic and old-school items, contributing to a delightful vintage shopping experience.

The Cottage was part of an estate owned by the Countess of Suffolk. The Countess, an American socialite born in 1879, preferred living abroad. Daisy met the Earl of Suffolk in 1903 while in India and married shortly after. Her father’s death in 1904 left an inheritance, provided Daisy spent four months per year in the U.S.

In 1930, Daisy purchased land on Magee Road, building an estate on these grounds. A caretaker inhabited the adobe dwelling. During this time, Immaculate Heart School opened in Tucson and was staffed by Sisters residing in Sabino Canyon. By 1957, the Countess sold part of the estate to this Order. Some Sisters moved, with several remaining at Sabino Canyon. A priest resided at the cottage.

By 1961, Immaculate Heart School relocated to Magee Road. An elementary and middle school were built in 1987 and 1994, respectively, and the cottage became a school library. The Sisters spent countless hours educating students and providing community service. The sparse finances received from work were often used to support the aging Sisters, as dictated by their vow of poverty.

The tiny house was used as storage for school rummage sales, with a portion of the proceeds donated to the Sisters. Twenty years ago, a school parent, Anne Marie Abbott, believed this adobe structure was an idyllic spot for a resale shop. Nonprofit status was obtained, allowing for all proceeds to be donated to the Sisters of Immaculate Heart. Major donations and in-kind services from local businesses were secured by Anne Marie, establishing The Cottage.

While the world was forced to pause in 2020, people still left donations at The Cottage’s isolated premise. In 2021, Martha Nunez’s concern for the property led her to Anne Marie. Together, they re-opened The Cottage as Oro Valley emerged from the pandemic. It’s been a whirlwind since.

The Cottage relies on contributions from area businesses and residents for donated items, in-kind services, and as regular clientele. Its history and scenic location, coupled with its mission of supporting the Sisters, provide a unique shopping experience. No matter what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find something to enjoy when visiting this hidden gem in the desert.

The Cottage is located at 420 E. Magee Road in Oro Valley. Donations may be dropped off at any time. Call 520-405-4613 to schedule pick up of items. See website for hours/days: www.thecottageov.com. Cash/check/Zelle are accepted.