When Terry Mowers first encountered the dry, dusty landscape of Marfa, Texas, in 2006, he sensed his life was about to change.

“It was just a very, very special place,” said Mr. Mowers, 66, a textile-design consultant who was awe-struck by the vast desert, the big sky and the legacy of the artist Donald Judd. “And I fell in love.”

Within days, he decided he needed a home there, a remote getaway from his primary residence in Manhattan. He contacted a real estate agent and, before he returned to New York, found a house he wanted to buy: a partially built modernist box of adobe brick designed by the architecture firm Rael San Fratello.

Ranch Dressing, a Marfa store that sells vintage Navajo rugs and sterling silver jewelry, married in 2016. For a few years, they commuted between Marfa and Chattanooga, Tenn., for Mr.

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