Thursday, December 28, 2006

Readers pick the Grand Canyon as the world's "8th Wonder"

What new can possibly be said about a place as old as time? After all, Arizona's Grand Canyon has been the object of hundreds of books, thousands of photos and millions of awe-inspired gasps. Historical accounts report visitors dropping to their knees in wonder upon eyeing the monolithic chasm. It is at once an icon, a metaphor and a cliche, capable of warping perspectives and sharpening imagination. Witness its selection as the eighth New Wonder of the World by voters in a USA TODAY/Good Morning America poll, edging out, in order, the Panama Canal; the Great Wall of China; Machu Picchu, Peru; the Saturn V rocket; the Taj Mahal, India; Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe; and Venice, Italy. A panel of experts earlier this month named seven new global wonders.

Pinal County looks into preserving open space

[Source: Carl Holcombe, Arizona Republic] - - Developers, preservationists and local government officials are looking at ways to preserve open space as Pinal County continues to build on farms and deserts. Speaking at a recent Pinal Partnership meeting, experts said open space and trails planning and guidelines are needed to improve the quality of life and developments in Pinal County. "Open space is part of a bigger picture," panelist Andy Laurenzi, the Sonoran Institute's land and water policy program director, told a group of developers, home builders and municipal and county government leaders.

It's important to not only develop sports and grassy neighborhood parks, but to preserve desert areas, and to link those areas with state and federal parks in the county through pedestrian and bicycle-friendly trails, Laurenzi said. Developments featuring denser housing could allow for more open space, he said. Power Ranch at Gilbert, developed by Sunbelt Holdings, was cited as a successful mix of open space, parks, schools and a trails network. Kent Taylor, a senior county planner for parks, open space and trails, said the county will likely have a master plan for trails ready this spring.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Leanne Matzenger.]

Wright plan for funding taking shape

[Source: Kate Nolan, Arizona Republic] -- New fund-raising plans for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation are beginning to take shape, according to foundation chief executive Phil Allsopp. The foundation has been studying a proposed 10-year, $250 million capital campaign since early 2005 and has concluded that fund-raising efforts will be conducted as a series of campaigns for specific targets. "We're in the process of getting a much better handle on where we should be focusing our first capital campaign," Allsopp said. Restoring buildings at Taliesin West, the Scottsdale architecture center Wright founded in 1937, will be a key objective, he said, in addition to building a new structure to conserve a valuable Wright archive and eventually creating a design center. "Part of our fund-raising will be not only around present projects, but also around increasing capacity to carry out our mission," Allsopp said. [Photo source: Leanne Matzenger.]

Tempe's historic-district debate gets referee

[Source: Katie Nelson, Arizona Republic] -- An outpouring of e-mails, letters, phone calls and office visits have been directed at Mark Vinson this fall and winter. Why? Vinson is refereeing an ongoing battle over whether to declare portions of the Maple-Ash neighborhood in downtown Tempe a "historic district." Normally Tempe's historical preservation officer would handle designation duties. But that person lives in the neighborhood. So as Tempe's city architect, Vinson, 52, got the job. Vinson was listed at the top of his field this year by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and has worked for the city for more than 20 years. He talked to The Republic about the dispute he described as one of the most volatile he's seen.

Why has this designation created such an uproar? There was little opposition to declaring three other Tempe neighborhoods historic.

The real root of it all is the underlying zoning. We have other historic districts, but they are all zoned for single-family districts. This is the one neighborhood that is different. Even though it has the character of a single-family neighborhood, it's all multifamily zoning. So you have folks who bought (property) for the single-family character, even though they might take advantage of the zoning by having rental units in the back (of their homes). Then you have people who want to take advantage of the multifamily zoning and make a profit that way.

Describe the supporters.

The supporters of designation, they believe the Maple-Ash neighborhood, it has a certain character that is beneficial as a community asset. . . . They realize there will be change, but by historic designation that the change will be guided as to how it will affect the character of the rest of the neighborhood.

And the opponents of the designation?

It would be easy for some to paint them with a broad brush and say they don't care about those issues. But I don't think that's true. Rather, their primary concern is the potential for eventual redevelopment. Some folks are opposed to the idea of any additional regulations and what they perceive as someone else having a say on what they do with their property. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Schnepf Farms named an "Arizona Treasure" by Gov. Napolitano

[Source: Dianna M. Náñez, Arizona Republic] -- When Mark and Carrie Schnepf learned that Gov. Janet Napolitano was designating Schnepf Farms an Arizona Treasure, they felt it was a humbling reward for keeping their family farm afloat for 65 years. "With so many farms going away . . . it's such an honor," Carrie Schnepf said. "You can't ask for a better way to commemorate." Napolitano has recognized 53 Arizona Treasures as points of pride or interest, and recommends them, through the Arizona Office of Tourism, as prime vacation destinations. Schnepf Farms was the first Southeast Valley locale to be named an Arizona Treasure.

The acknowledgment comes as no surprise to the many families who have enjoyed the farm's pumpkin patches and peach festivals. Jim and Wendy Manley of Phoenix have attended the Pumpkin and Chili Party every year since it began in 1996. "The first year we came out there my wife was pregnant with our first son," Jim Manley said. "They weren't expecting that many people. My wife put on an apron and helped them serve chili." Carrie and Mark Schnepf are fifth-generation Arizonans and said their family has seen the state grow with modernization. "It really means a lot to us that from all the way up to the Governor's Office they are proud of us," Mark Schnepf said. "That they want us to stay a farm." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix talks of train station rebirth

[Source: Angela Cara Pancrazio, Arizona Republic] -- For more than two decades, the city has eyed the potential of Phoenix's Union Station. With all of its space and its Mission Revival architecture, the 1923 rail-passenger center could be a city centerpiece filled with shops, restaurants and artists, officials have proposed. That vision never came to fruition. The last train carrying passengers pulled out of the station in the mid-1990s. In recent years, the station has been inaccessible to the public. There's a security fence ringing the building because Sprint owns it and stores equipment in it.

But lately, with the renaissance of downtown Phoenix, Sprint and the city's Historic Preservation Office are talking about what is the best use for the building. "Now there's momentum for something to happen," said Barbara Stocklin, the city's historic preservation officer. From the beginning, Phoenix's Union Station was designed to be a high-profile building in the city's core, Stocklin said. "Downtown is at a crossroads and Sprint is at a crossroads - that's always good," Stocklin said. "If Sprint's interested in doing something else, it's good timing."

Sitting on Harrison Street at Fourth Avenue, the station borders the southwestern fringe of downtown's warehouse district. Over the past several years, the district has slowly reinvented itself with a handful of galleries, restaurants and lofts. "You could do just about anything with the station," Stocklin said. It could be restored for its original use, she said, as a commuter rail station and a transportation hub with buses and taxis. Four hundred and seventy-five feet long and 110 feet at its widest, the station has the potential to become a destination place, said Brian Kearney of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, and could easily be a home for restaurants, a museum, galleries and retail. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Chandler railroad museum takes shape

[Source: Ty Young, Arizona Republic] -- Just east of Arizona Avenue, between Germann and Queen Creek roads, a collection of old trains sits all by itself, surrounded by alfalfa fields. The site doesn't look like much now, but it's part of the Tumbleweed Park master plan - the new and growing home of the Arizona Railway Museum. The trains rolled out of their old home at Armstrong Park in downtown Chandler last year.

Although the land surrounding the 32 trains will stay vacant for years, there is quite a bit of work being done, said Bart Barton, vice president of operations for the museum. "We have a good amount of volunteers who help out with tours and rehabilitation of the trains," he said. "Things are progressing." The vintage cars, some more than 100 years old, won't have an adjoining building until 2008. But work is nearly complete on the track necessary for displaying the cars. In 2007, the museum should see its access on Ryan Road east of Arizona Avenue, which is now dirt, paved. Improvements also are planned for the parking lot. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Queen Creek's Rittenhouse School gets face lift

[Source: Srianthi Perera, Arizona Republic] -- The Rittenhouse School building has been a focal point of the Queen Creek community since 1925, first as a school and then as a place to house the area's history. Now, its weather-beaten exterior, with its peeling paint and crumbling brick, is receiving some attention. Thanks to a significant donation from community member Newell Barney, exterior renovation work has commenced at the 81-year-old building that now houses the San Tan Historical Museum.

When the project is completed, the building will be restored to its red brick schoolhouse appearance. In the just-completed first phase, lead-based paint was removed in a process that took several weeks, said Dave Salge, president of the San Tan Historical Society, which runs the museum. While paying attention to environmental concerns and following guidelines established by the National Register of Historic Places, Mesa-based Aqua Blasters used a combination of chemicals and soda blasting to remove the paint.

The last coating of paint to be removed was mixed with cement and wouldn't come off with normal strippers, the company's Joe Lee said. "It was a major challenge to remove it, and we had to find an obscure product for paint removal," Lee said. It was an "interesting learning experience" for the professional pressure washing company tackling its first historical building, he said. Interesting too were the engravings - various names and years - that Lee and his crew came across while doing the work. "It got me thinking about the whole history of the school," Lee said. Aqua Blasters donated 10percent of the cost back to the museum.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Leanne Matzenger.]

New way to enjoy museums and attractions of Greater Phoenix

Now there’s a whole new way to enjoy the museums and attractions of the Greater Phoenix regions: The ShowUp NOW Pass. Available on-line, the pass offers visitors the ability to buy a package of museum admissions–including a one-, two-, or three-day pass providing unlimited access to many of the region’s museums and cultural attractions, as well as choices based on individual interests, such as: Uniquely AZ, Kids & Family, or any combination the user wishes. Whichever the user chooses, the pass is printed at home and comes with a downloadable map highlighting the location of the participating museums and attractions.

Specific pricing of the ShowUp NOW Pass will vary, depending on the season and the participation of museums and attractions. A One-Day Pass unlimited visitation pass sells for $24 per adult, $14 per child. Soon, the pass will be available for purchase locally from the concierges at many hotels, resorts, and visitor centers. The ShowUp Now Pass is a collaborative enterprise among, their member organizations, the Arizona Office of Tourism, and the destination marketing organizations of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, Glendale, Chandler, and Fountain Hills.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Litchfield train depot stirs renovation interest

[Source: Lynh Bui, Arizona Republic] -- The Old Litchfield Train Depot is on track for salvation. After learning the structure was in danger of demolition, several people have started looking for ways to save the piece of southwest Valley history. Railroad enthusiasts, non-profit organizations, private investors and Avondale officials are all working on plans that could transport and renovate the building. Built in the 1920s and originally owned by Southern Pacific Lines, the depot greeted many of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.'s top executives during their visits. Tim Vitta owns the depot and the land in Goodyear where it sits. He has received several calls from people who want to save the depot. "It would be best for it to stay local where it makes more historical sense," Vitta said. He plans to donate the structure to a non-profit agency but hasn't decided who gets the building.

Whoever takes the depot would have to pay for moving and renovating the building, not a cheap endeavor. When Goodyear considered buying the structure in 2003, it estimated that it would cost $45,000 to move it and an additional $550,000 to $800,000 to renovate it. Because of the cost and staff time, along with other complications, the city quit pursuing the depot. Goodyear Communications Director Paula Ilardo said the city doesn't have plans to get involved again, but could, depending on direction from the City Council. Meanwhile, the High Desert Heritage Museum has expressed interest in the depot for a museum that would feature Arizona's history of mining, railroading and ranching. The new non-profit agency is working to build a museum and park in Cordes Junction. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Questions on Marana Hohokam site stall Continental Ranch development plan

[Source: Aaron Mackey, Arizona Daily Star] -- Plans to build condominiums near Continental Ranch are stalled while Marana officials and the project's developers wrangle over what to do with ancient Hohokam burial sites discovered on the property. Town officials and developers agree that the location contains artifacts that need to be protected before the condos can be built. The developers say they've already done enough work to remove artifacts and human remains from the property, but town officials disagree. Town archaeologist Su Benaron said the firm hired to conduct an initial survey of the area over the summer didn't do an adequate job of searching for burial sites, according to town letters and e-mails. The company also failed to dig deep enough to find all archaeological features, Benaron said.

An independent archaeological firm hired by the town of Marana later confirmed Benaron's findings. But the archaeological firm originally hired by the developers counters that it did all the digging required by state law and that the town is being unreasonable. The town won't approve construction of the project until all the burial sites have been removed and another survey has been conducted. As a compromise, Town Attorney Frank Cassidy proposed that the developer pay the town $235,000 for another archaeology firm to complete the work deemed necessary by the town. But the settlement was voted down 4-3 last week by the Marana Town Council, leaving both sides back at the same impasse. Richard M. Rollman, a Tucson attorney who represents the developers, wouldn't comment on what his clients plan to do next but said they want to resolve the matter quickly. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Kingman depot renovations will begin after railroads sign off on project

[Source: Suzanne Adams, Kingman Daily Miner] -- Train watchers and fans from near and far are eagerly awaiting the start of renovations on the old Santa Fe Depot in downtown Kingman. "There's so many people interested in trains it's incredible! I've got tons of people with railroad artifacts interested in the project," said Shannon Rossiter of the Mohave Museum of History and Arts. Plans for the renovation of the old train depot are about 95 percent complete, said Rob Owen, special projects coordinator for the city of Kingman. All that needs to be done is to have BNSF Railway and Amtrak give their final approval for the project. Owen hopes to have that approval by January so the project can go out for bid at the end of February. The restoration work can then start in March.

The city will be reimbursed for 94.3% of the restoration work by a Federal Transportation Enhancement Grant. The city applied for the $500,000 grant in 2001 and received approval in 2002. The grant is administered by the Arizona Department of Transportation. Kingman will have to match 5.7 percent of the cost of the project. Despite its age, the depot is still structurally sound, Owen said. The old station will be receiving new doors, windows, paint, plumbing and electrical work, heating and air conditioning, stucco and new landscaping as part of the renovation work. Ever since 2002, Kingman residents have been asking when work was going to begin. A lot of people don't understand the grant process, said Bill Shilling, a city grant administrator. It can take many years to apply, receive approval and get funds from a grant for a project. [Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo by JC Amberlyn, Daily Miner.]

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tucson's Presidio re-enactors to party like it's 1810

[Source: Teya Vitu, Tucson Citizen] -- Presidio life a la 1810 is coming back Saturday to the courtyard outside the Tucson Museum of Art. Presidio enthusiasts dressed in period attire doing chores of the day will demonstrate what Presidio life was like from 1 to 3:30 p.m. every Saturday through March in the courtyard of La Casa Cordova adjacent to the art museum, 140 N. Main Ave. The winter and spring living-history events are a warm-up for the group's move into the reconstructed El Presidio de Tucson at Court Avenue and Washington Street after it opens, likely in May.

The Tucson Presidio Trust for Historic Preservation put on weekly living history events at TMA until 2005, when the museum insisted it pay insurance. The trust stopped performing but now is back to get ready for the Presidio's opening, said Sybil Needham, the trust's second vice president. About 10 trust members will be making tortillas, weaving and standing guard. "I'll be wearing a peasant dress and a shawl - homespun stuff," Needham said. "I'm a posole maker."

Renovation of Kingman historic building could help revitalize downtown

[Source: Suzanne Adams, Kingman Daily Miner] -- Good things come to those who wait. The merchants in downtown Kingman have been waiting for a long time for something to happen with the old Central Commercial building at the intersection of Beale and Fourth streets. Starting the first week of December, the city will be helping Joe Ott, the owner of the building, renovate its facade. The plan is to take it back as far as possible to the original look of the building.

The building is made up of one large central portion and two smaller buildings with additions. It was built around 1917. The building was used as a commercial goods store. According to records at the Mohave Museum of History and Arts, the store sold everything from clothing and shoes to food, tools and furniture. The building at the corner of Fourth and Beale streets is the oldest part of the structure. It originally held a bank and upstairs apartments. Another section of the building, which now houses The Spinster craft store, was once a post office.

The city applied for and received a $700,000 Community Development Block Grant from the federal government. Some of the money went to renovating part of the Boys and Girls Club downtown. Around $500,000 of it will go to renovating the outside of the Central Commercial Building. This is the first time the city has used grant money to help a private individual, said Bill Shilling, a grant administrator for the city of Kingman, who is in charge of the project. The main reason why the city is helping Ott renovate the building is because of health and safety issues, Shilling said. Several of the awnings and a parapet wall along the top of one of the buildings need to be repaired or replaced. Ott will be putting about $285,000 of his own money into the project. [Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo of Commercial Building by Suzanne Adams, Kingman Daily Miner.]

Matt's big hassle

[Source: Michele Laudig, Phoenix New Times] -- If anyone should have an easy time opening a business in a cool old building downtown, it's Matt Pool. After all, Pool got his start managing Bar Bianco for his sister, Susan, and her partner, Chris Bianco, in an old house (the neoclassical Thomas House, built in 1909, to be exact) in Heritage Square. It's one of the hippest spots in Phoenix, where guests kick back on the front porch with a bottle of Sangiovese while waiting for a table at the insanely popular Pizzeria Bianco next door. Then Pool started his own business, Matt's Big Breakfast, in a funky, compact red brick building next to a small downtown motel. Word got out quickly when the place opened, and in just a couple of years, it's become such a familiar part of the urban fabric — with its retro orange counter and made-from-scratch pancakes — that it feels like Matt's has been there for decades.

Mayor Phil Gordon knows all about Matt's. He's a regular (usually comes in on Saturday morning with his son, Pool notes), and has even mentioned the place in not one, but two official speeches. A guy with his own history of redeveloping old buildings, Gordon knows the value of a place like Matt's Big Breakfast, and in a city with just a handful of creative, young entrepreneurs who're multitasking like crazy to make Phoenix vibrant (think of Greg Esser and Cindy Dach with their boutique and gallery spaces, or Kimber Lanning, with her record store and art/music venue, or artist Sloane McFarland, landlord to several biz hipsters, including Chris Bianco), Gordon's got to know the value of Matt Pool. Is it any surprise that Pool wants to start another business? The city staff should have been jumping up and down — and through hoops — at the news that Pool's restoring a 106-year-old historic building as a tavern, exactly the kind of business downtown Phoenix needs. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Wickenburg is fourth most Western town

[Source: Wickenburg Sun] -- There are thousands of towns in the American West that celebrate their heritage and culture, but Wickenburg is among the elite. For its efforts, Wickenburg is recognized by “True West” magazine as the No. 4 True Western Town in the January/February 2007 issue, on newsstands Dec. 12. True West editors determined the winners based on a number of criteria - especially how each town has preserved its history through older buildings and districts, museums and other institutions, and events. The Top Ten also take the lead in promoting their historic resources to visitors. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

ASU president favors demolishing former VNB, keeping dome

As reported in the ASU State Press student newspaper, before an audience of 70 Tempeans on the cable access show, "Let's Talk Tempe," ASU President Michael Crow took pointed questions about the University's preservation of historic buildings.

Crow stood behind the University's plans to destroy the gold-domed building on the southeastern corner of campus. Some historic preservation advocates had vocally advocated for the building's preservation, but Crow said only the dome would be saved. "We agree that there are architectural elements of that building that are unique," Crow said. "The building is not savable. It is an underbuilt, underdesigned, 40-year-old building." The comment sparked grumbles from some audience members.

[Note: For more information about the building in question, visit City of Tempe webpage or Modern Phoenix Neighborhood Network webpage. Photo by Walt Lockley.]

Monday, November 27, 2006

Arizona Heritage Traveler web site wins national award

The Arizona Humanities Council (AHC) received some wonderful news right before the Thanksgiving holiday. The AHC was awarded the 2006 Helen and Martin Schwartz Prize by the federation of State Humanities Councils for its “Heritage Traveler web site,” which was developed in conjunction with the Arizona Office of Tourism. Click here to visit the web site to learn about nearly 200 heritage destinations throughout the state. You can plan an itinerary for your Arizona vacation based on interests ranging from astronomy to architecture to Native American and Old West History.

Since October 2005, this site has received more than 2 million hits from viewers interested in Arizona’s history and culture. The Schwartz Prize is a national award given annually to an outstanding public humanities project. The judges were impressed by the collaboration between AHC and AOT, and the unique nature of the product of the collaboration.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Prescott bronzesmith rejuvenates historic elk statue

[Source: Cindy Barks, Prescott Daily Courier] -- Serving as a local icon has not always been easy for "Bill." Indeed, after seven decades atop the Elks Opera House in downtown Prescott and then another three decades on the Elks Lodge #330 in Prescott Valley, the old elk statue ­ nicknamed "Bill" ­ was showing his age. With bullet holes scattered across his chest, water damage deteriorating his legs, and wind damage wearing down his antlers, "Bill" needed of a major facelift.

That is exactly what he has received. For the past month, "Bill" has been in the hands of local bronzesmith Ed Reilly, who has brought life back to the 100-year-old statue. "It's come out better than we thought it would," Reilly said this past week from his Prescott Valley foundry. After hours of restoration work, the statue is nearly ready to go back to its original home on top of the Elks Opera House on Gurley Street in downtown Prescott.

That will probably happen during the first week in December, Prescott Historic Preservation Specialist Nancy Burgess said, with an unveiling of the newly rejuvenated statue on Dec. 8 ­ just in time of the Acker Musical Showcase that evening. Meanwhile, Reilly said he plans to conduct an open house from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday to give the public a close look at the statue. The event will take place at Reilly's studio at 7331 E. Second St., Prescott Valley. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Artists' eviction from Tucson warehouses pushed back two months

[Source: Teya Vitu, Tucson Citizen] -- Artists now have until March 31 to move out of two downtown warehouses owned by the state. Officials from City Hall and the Governor's Office on Wednesday discussed the challenges presented to artists by the previous Jan. 31 eviction deadline and persuaded the Arizona Department of Transportation to add two months to the exit date. "Thank you, ADOT," said Zee Haag, owner of Zee's Gallery, 1 E. Toole Ave., which has occupied one of the two targeted warehouses for about 15 years. "I appreciate it very much."

Haag's warehouse is filled with upward of 100 tons of large minerals, fossils, crystals and art. The Jan. 31 deadline would have created havoc at the most critical time of year for him: The Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase starts at the end of January. "For me, it's for the gem show," Haag said. "For the other artists, it gives us more time to figure out what to do." The other artists occupy the 100-year-old Steinfeld Warehouse, 101 W. Sixth St., where the arts warehouse district was born in the mid-1980s. ADOT has told them the Steinfeld Warehouse also must be vacated, though no eviction notices have been mailed yet. ADOT hasn't given a definitive reason for the eviction, except to say the space needs to be "reintegrated" into the community.

Artists in all 29 state-owned warehouses are on 30-day leases, meaning the state could evict them with 30 days' notice. The city Transportation Department has offered to find new downtown studio space for artists, where they would pay the same rate they pay now. The department also is offering to pay moving costs, said Lou Ginsberg, real estate special projects manager. Jan Lesher, director of the governor's southern Arizona office, took charge of the state's response to concerns. Lesher appreciates how the warehouse dilemma goes beyond two buildings and taps into downtown revitalization efforts. "Artists and people from the city called us and really let us understand the full impact," Lesher said. "We have a little flexibility with the date." [Note: Are artists important to downtown? Take the Citizen's online poll here.]

Pima County weighs zoning freeze over new law

[Source: Erica Meltzer, Arizona Daily Star] -- Pima County is considering a freeze on rezonings while it figures out the impact of Proposition 207. And when that freeze thaws, developers could face new requirements that will mean higher up-front costs and less flexibility. County officials say that's the only way to protect taxpayers from large payouts under the new law. "It makes zoning potentially a lot more difficult," County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said of the proposed changes. "People complain that it takes a long time and is difficult today, and this could make it even more cumbersome and complicated. But we're the ones who would have to pay the claims from taxpayers' money," he added.

Proposition 207 limits government's use of eminent domain and requires compensation for what are called regulatory takings. That means that when government adopts new land-use regulations — such as requiring land to be set aside for conservation, [historic preservation designation], or limiting the number of houses that could be built — it will have to compensate property owners for the development they didn't get to pursue. The ballot measure passed with 65 percent of the vote.

But what does Prop 207 have to do with rezonings? The new law requires cities and counties to compensate when they take, but it doesn't require them to give anything. So cities and counties still have the ability to deny a rezoning without any consequences. But because rezonings are discretionary, cities and counties often use them as an opportunity to wring concessions from developers. For example, if existing zoning would allow someone to build 20 houses on his property, and he requests a rezoning that would allow him to build 100, the county might grant the rezoning but on the condition he build only 70 houses. Such compromises are common, especially when neighbors object to a project. But Huckelberry said he worries that could be seen as "taking" under Prop 207, meaning the county would have to pay developers for the difference.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. For opposing views on Proposition 207, visit the website of opponents of 207 and website of proponents of 207.]

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Tear Down Town: It's a knock-down, drag-out for Phoenix's soul

[Source: Robrt L. Pela, Phoenix New Times] -- When the folks at Hasbro recently released a new edition of Monopoly, the world's most-played board game, they replaced the fictional Atlantic City streets of the original version with real-life American cities. Three cheers for Phoenix, the country's fifth-largest city, for making the grade: Our hometown appears in the pricier "red" section of the board, in the spot formerly known as Kentucky Avenue. But while most cities are proudly illustrated with man-made structures — Atlanta with a photo of its Centennial Olympic Park; St. Louis with its famed Gateway Arch — Phoenix is represented not by an architectural marvel or an historic icon of its city, but by Camelback Mountain. In other words, by something built not by crafty city planners or forward-thinking founding fathers, but by erosion.

Clearly, the Hasbro people are on to us. It's more than a little disconcerting to know that even people who make board games for a living are aware that, when one thinks of Phoenix, one thinks not of grand skyscrapers or gorgeous cityscapes, but of a pile of dirt. On the other hand, how apropos. Because what iconic structure could possibly illustrate Phoenix in any context? We're not known for our cohesive city planning or our rich history of structural design. Phoenix's architectural past has long been treated like the detritus of an ex-lover we're ashamed of — the mean guy who beat us, stole our money, and farted at the dinner table; the trampy, undereducated gal we stayed with because she had a big rack. Once they finally leave for good, we're so embarrassed we ever dated them that we destroy all evidence of their presence in our lives.

So goes Phoenix, wiped clean by a wrecking ball time and again. Except Phoenix never had a big rack to begin with; has never been a city sexy enough to fool anyone into loving us for long. Instead, we've been a place so concerned with being "small town" that we've put all our energy into reinventing ourselves, into becoming something we've never quite achieved. We've ripped out our foundation again and again, leveling landmarks like St. Mary's School, the Fox Theater and the old Ciné Capri movie house as capriciously as one would toss out a valentine from a former lover.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Artwork by Jason Hill.]

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Tiny Gilbert jailhouse holds lots of history

[Source: Beth Lucas, East Valley Tribune] -- The little adobe hut was not built to be a jailhouse. “Initially, it was a pumphouse for the water tower,” recalled former Gilbert Mayor Dale Hallock, who grew up in Gilbert’s original square mile. “Then, if we had guys who got drunk Saturday night in Gilbert, they would throw them in there till Sunday morning till they sobered up.”

Gilbert has hired a consultant who is now in the process of planning an extensive renovation of the 1927 building underneath the town’s historic water tower downtown. The town will invest $48,125 into the project, in addition to $41,875 from the state’s Historic Preservation Grant Program. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Friday, November 17, 2006

Original foundation of Tempe's Hayden Flour Mill found

[Source: Garin Groff, East Valley Tribune] -- The past and future of the Hayden Flour Mill in Tempe collided Thursday as archaeologists announced that they’d found the original foundation of the mill and a developer revealed plans to restore the historic building. The activities made for one of the best days for the mill after nearly a decade of bad developments — the mill’s 1998 closing, a fire that destroyed part of the structure and a nasty legal battle between the city and a developer.

Now Tempe’s biggest downtown developer, Avenue Communities, is planning a $500 million project that would restore the mill and add shops, restaurants, and condos. The Phoenix-based company, which also is building the 30-story Centerpoint Condominiums downtown, intends to do the mill restoration and construct some of the new buildings next year. Before that starts, archaeologists are finishing what could be the last chance to scour the site before new buildings make future exploration impossible.

And they dug up more than expected. One big find was a crude rock and concrete foundation from the original adobe mill, built in 1874. It had been assumed the current building was on top of the old one and would have forever hidden clues about one of Tempe’s first buildings. But the foundation was just a bit north of the current mill. “We were surprised to find that there,” said Bob Stokes, a principal investigator with Tempe-based Archaeological Consulting Services.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo of excavators examining canal by Leigh Shelle Robertus, East Valley Tribune.]

La Placita Village owners have plan to remove Tucson park's gazebo

[Source: Ernesto Portillo Jr., Arizona Daily Star] -- The gazebo centerpiece of a grassy historic park Downtown, often the site of weddings and magazine photo shoots, could be torn down under a renovation plan being considered by La Placita Village owners. Bourn Partners is proposing the city renovate the historic public park, including one plan that removes the structure built in 1955.

Removing the gazebo is one option of a broad proposal to make the park at the southwest corner of West Broadway and South Church Street more accessible to the public, said Oscar Turner, project manager for Bourn Partners. "We want to turn it into an events space," Turner said. But removal of the gazebo, which was erected to celebrate Tucson's Mexican heritage, would create controversy among historical preservationists and Tucsonans who once used La Placita and the gazebo for community — and more intimate — celebrations.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo from Arizona Daily Star archives.]

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pinal rail yard running into opposition

[Source: Eric Beidel, Northwest Explorer] -- Pinal County may be heading for a trainwreck of enviromentalists, farmers and home builders opposed to a proposed rail yard just north of the Pima County line. The State Land Department wants the designation of more than 10,000 acres of land between Picacho Peak and Red Rock changed from "natural resource, development sensitive" to "urban, industrial." This would allow the land department to sell almost 1,900 acres to Union Pacific Railroad, which plans to build a switching yard across the highway from Picacho Peak State Park. Pinal County supervisors will decide the issue on Nov. 29.

With a 5-3 vote, the county planning and zoning commission on Oct. 26 recommended denial of the land department's request. Citizens have formed a group to lobby against the potential rail yard. The collective, which includes a landowner, a resort owner and a consultant, calls its struggle a "David and Goliath battle" and wants Union Pacific to find another location for its switching yard. The group set up a Web site to promote its cause.

The proposed "hump" yard would contain 36 tracks on 585 acres, almost twice the size of Tucson's 24-track, 300-acre rail yard at 22nd Street. A Union Pacific yard in Phoenix consists of just 20 tracks on 140 acres. The Tucson yard stretches about two miles in length and a quarter-mile in width. The proposed yard in Pinal would stretch a little longer, Union Pacific officials said. "We just think it's a bad place," said Marana Councilman Herb Kai, who leases from the state much of the land that Union Pacific wants. "Union Pacific is a big elephant that sits on anyone and doesn't care who they're sitting on." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Action Alert! Demolition permit applied for oldest house in Phoenix's Evans Churchill neighborhood

Today, November 15, the City of Phoenix received a demolition permit application for 1115 N. 2nd Street. The city has a hold on the demolition permit until Monday, November 20.

This is the Edward Morin House, the oldest house in Evans Churchill, dating from 1909. The Historic Preservation Commission initiated HP zoning on this property in 2004, largely at the request of the community, but then withdrew the case after the owner, The Orcutt/Winslow Partnership, protested and committed to the HP Commission that they would keep the HP Commission apprised far in advance of any sale of the property and any plans to demolish or redevelop the site. Because there is no historic preservation zoning, the house could be demolished as soon as Tuesday of next week.

What you can do? You are welcome to express your opinion about this matter to:
  • The Honorable Michael Johnson, Member of Council for the district in which the structure is located, 602-262-7493
  • The Honorable Doug Lingner, Member of Council & Chair of the Housing, Neighborhoods, and Historic Preservation Subcommittee, 602-262-7492
  • The Honorable Phil Gordon, Mayor of Phoenix, 602-262-7111
  • Cynthia Seelhammer, Deputy City Manager, 602-262-6941
  • Barbara Stocklin, Historic Preservation Officer, 602-262-7468
  • Evans Churchill Community Association, 602-614-8727

City of Phoenix issues RFP to rehab historic downtown residences

The City of Phoenix is seeking proposals for the rehabilitation and development of two City-owned, historic, single-family residential structures, a carriage house, and a vacant lot on approximately 28,000 square feet located at 814, 816, and 822 N. 2nd Avenue on the west side of 2nd Avenue between McKinley and Roosevelt Streets.

Click here to download the RFP or pick one up at Phoenix City Hall, 20th Floor, Downtown Development Office, 200 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85003. The deadline for proposals is Noon M.S.T., Friday, January 12, 2007. For further information, contact Bo Martinez, Program Manager, at 602-495-0398/Voice or 602-534-5500/TTY Relay.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Brewery Gulch house 1 of 10 on upcoming Bisbee home tour

[Source: Joan F. Barrett, Arizona Daily Star] -- Be prepared to smile in artist Rose Johnson's historic Bisbee home, 90 miles southeast of Tucson. Her residence delights with color, art, tile work, transformed secondhand finds and much more. "My house is an extension of my creativity," says Johnson, whose work includes public murals and paintings sold through galleries. Her fun and funky dwelling will be one of 10 houses open for the 24th Annual Bisbee Historic Home Tour, Heart of Bisbee, on Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 25-26.

Participating homes sit along Tombstone Canyon and Brewery Gulch in Old Bisbee, a former copper mining town rich in history. Tombstone Canyon is part of historic Route 80, the main connection between El Paso, Texas, and San Diego before I-10 was built. Brewery Gulch's past includes a red light district and more than 47 saloons in the early 1900s. Today, stores and transformed miners' cottages dot the street.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo of Rose Johnson's house by Kelly Presnell, Arizona Daily Star.]

Looters ravage ruins to sell pottery, heirlooms on black market

[Source: Dennis Wagner, Arizona Republic] -- In the dead of night, looters are destroying the history of America, desecrating sacred Indian ruins. An estimated 80 percent of the nation's ancient archaeological sites have been plundered or robbed by shovel-toting looters. Though some of the pillaging is done by amateurs who don't know any better, more serious damage is wrought by professionals who dig deep, sometimes even using backhoes.

The motive is money. Indian artifacts are coveted worldwide by collectors willing to pay for trophy pieces of the past. Looters are just the first link in a chain that includes collectors, galleries, trade shows and Internet sites such as eBay. But stopping the black-market business is virtually impossible because of a lack of manpower for enforcement and loopholes in the law that make it hard to convict the few who get caught.

The result is a scientific and spiritual loss. "They're changing history," Vernelda Grant, tribal archaeologist for the San Carlos Apaches, says as she stands amid 800-year-old ruins transformed into a crater field. "They're killing us. They're killing the existence of who we are."

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo of archaeologist Vernelda Grant by Jack Kurtz, Arizona Republic]

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Scottsdale business owners wax nostalgic about Fifth Avenue

[Source: Lindsay Butler, East Valley Tribune] -- Scottsdale’s Fifth Avenue was a shopping mecca during its heyday in the 1950s. The angled parking made the area automobile-friendly, while the string of store windows and covered walkways kept pedestrians shopping for hours. The stretch of Fifth Avenue between Goldwater Boulevard and Scottsdale Road downtown represents a post-World War II retail design that catered to both pedestrians and automobiles, which is hard to find anymore in the United States.

The city is hoping to maintain the signature look and feel of what is commonly known as “The Heart of Scottsdale” by adding it to its historic register. But first it will have to win the support of local business and property owners, and also develop a list of incentives for participating. The plan is likely to get a mixed reaction. “Fifth Avenue put Scottsdale on the map,” said Debbie Abele, a city historic preservation officer. “A whole slew of people with national reputations brought people to Scottsdale to shop.” [Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo of Scottsdale canal project construction over Fifth Avenue by Paul O'Neill, East Valley Tribune.]

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Taliesin West zoning plan at issue

[Source: Kate Nolan, Arizona Business Gazette] -- A plan to obtain special campus zoning for the 490-acre Taliesin West campus has raised concerns with Scottsdale because its owner, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, did not file the paperwork by late September, as agreed. In April, the foundation made a deal with the city to apply for the zoning to get a Scottsdale historic preservation designation for a 10-acre parcel of the campus. The goal was to keep the property from being developed for any use that didn't support the foundation's mission to further Wright's ideas.

Members of the city's Historic Preservation Commission became concerned in August when the Wright Foundation fired the executive handling its zoning application and communications on the zoning request ceased. Unsure whether the group was still seeking the zoning change, the commission asked the foundation to provide a progress report. At a subsequent meeting with the commission, Phil Allsopp, the foundation's CEO, said the rezoning request was moving forward. The foundation also agreed to submit a required historic preservation plan, but that has not been provided. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Florence puts Heritage Fund to good use

[Source: Florence Reminder] -- The Arizona Heritage Alliance met Saturday in Florence, where the state's Heritage Fund has been put to some of its best uses. "We decided to spotlight historical downtown Florence and showcase what the Heritage Fund can do when utilized to its fullest potential," according to the fall 2006 Heritage Guardian, the newsletter for the Arizona Heritage Alliance. Jennifer Evans with the Florence Main Street Program was the local coordinator of this meeting...

Florence has received $1,599,139 in Arizona Heritage Fund grants since 1991. The total investment in Florence's historic preservation projects is over $3,031,898. Bonnie Bariola, who has been directly involved in almost every Arizona Heritage Fund project in Florence, led the Alliance on a walking tour of 14 of the 16 buildings in Florence that have utilized these grant funds for restoration purposes. Buildings on the tour included:
  • Florence/Silver King Hotel
  • Popular Store/Mandell's Department Store (True Value Hardware/Russ & Cheryl Woodmansee)
  • William Clarke House (Florence Reminder & Blade Tribune Office)
  • Cuen House & Butcher Shop (Qwest Building/Langley Momentum LLC)
  • First Nicholas Beer Hall (Lynn & Tom Smith Residence)
  • Avenenti Tack Shop
  • Brunenkant's City Bakery (Chamber of Commerce Office & Visitor Center/Town of Florence)
  • Cosgrove/Nicholas/Aguilar Residence (Bill Coomer & Katie Montano residence)
  • White Building
  • 2nd Pinal County Courthouse
  • Sam Kee/Jennie Peyton Weedin/Yeddo Leos Residence (Dodie & Wilbur Freeman Residence)
  • Catholic Church of the Assumption
  • Chapel of the Gila
  • Jean Baptiste Michea Residence (Zoe & Jerry Ravert Residence)

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo of 2nd Pinal County Courthouse.]

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Revitalization firm visits Coolidge

[Source: Brian Ahnmark, Coolidge Examiner] -- For the first time in a while, there's something new in downtown Coolidge. And it's not a business, a housing development or a park; it's an attitude. It's hope. Last week saw the arrival of Dolores Palma and Doyle Hyett, consultants with Virginia-based HyettPalma, a consulting firm that specializes in downtown revitalization projects. And take it from the experts: Downtown Coolidge is showing promise. "There is a lot going on downtown," Palma said. "The city has plans; there's San Carlos Park; we see the private sector making building improvements; and there are new businesses and buildings changing hands. There is a surprising amount of activity."

Hyett was originally a developer -- "a city planner gone bad, as we say in the business," Palma joked -- whose company dealt with historic properties. Palma, meanwhile, worked with the National Main Street Center as part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "We had done other planning work in the past, but we really loved working downtown," Palma said. The duo founded their firm in 1985 to satisfy a mutual love of providing downtown renaissance in partnership with communities. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Monday, November 06, 2006

Be a "steward of the past" by volunteering with Arizona State Parks

[Source: Arizona State Parks] -- Have you ever hiked to an archaeological site and found large holes where looters have been digging for Native American artifacts? If you like the outdoors and are interested in preserving archaeological resources, you may be interested in becoming a volunteer for the Arizona Site Steward Program. Currently, the program is recruiting volunteers for the Lake Havasu area.

The program is sponsored by federal, state, county and municipal agencies and administered from the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), a section of Arizona State Parks. Stewards monitor archaeological sites in danger of vandalism or natural deterioration and report the sites' condition to the appropriate land manager. Site Stewards must complete 8 to 10 hours of initial training, then are encouraged to attend regional workshops and an annual conference where they receive further training in such subject areas as: crime scene management, desert survival, site documentation, oral history, compass use, map reading, artifact and feature identification, and photography techniques.

If you are interested in learning more about the program, click here. If you have questions or would like to receive an application, call Mary Estes at (602) 542-4174. For information about Arizona State Parks call (602) 542-4174 (outside of the Phoenix metro area call toll-free (800) 285-3703) or visit the website.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

City of Tucson fells trees abutting historic adobes on Ft. Lowell lot

[Source: Rob O'Dell, Arizona Daily Star] -- In an effort to preserve portions of the historic Fort Lowell property, the city cut down several trees in the past few days whose roots had been eating the foundations of the adobe buildings at the site. The city had been trying to buy the 5.3-acre Fort Lowell site for preservation for more than 15 years, but the owner, Harry Adkins, refused to sell, saying the city perpetually lowballed the offers. The property includes remnants of the fort's officers' quarters, guardhouse and parade grounds, built in 1873.

Under a deal with developer Jim Campbell, the city acquired the site at North Craycroft and East Fort Lowell roads last year after Campbell bought it and then swapped it to the city for property elsewhere. This week the city took down about a half a dozen roughly 100-year-old trees, including a couple of mesquites, to prevent the roots from encroaching further on the adobe buildings, said Don Pawlowske, a park-maintenance area supervisor. He said the trees cut down were only a fraction of the trees on the site. He said the city, the state and Pima County have worked together to preserve the historic buildings on the site. Jim Conroy, the East District administrator of the Parks Department, said the site will eventually be a historic park. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Crews begin work excavating Tucson cemetery from 1860s-70s

[Source: Jim Becker, KOLD News 13] -- Crews working on the 4.1 acre parcel along Stone Avenue, between Alameda and Toole, are likely to find foundations of homes from the early 1900s. They may also find Hohokam artifacts dating back 2,000 years. And they will find bones. The City of Tucson used the area as a cemetery until 1875. It was abandoned and many residents re-buried their relatives in a new cemetery at what is now Speedway and Stone. Many others did not.

"We do know that over the past century, burials have been accidentally discovered during construction projects, and so we believe that there are many still here," explains Roger Anyon, Program Manager for Pima County's Cultural Resources and Historic Preservation Office. Bones uncovered will be brought inside a mini laboratory, where a computer scanner will be used to file and sort them. Bones or artifacts can then either be re-buried elsewhere or packed away safely. Technicians can then examine the images they've scanned. "We actually can see markings on these you won't normally see with the naked eye," said Skip Hooe, a geospatial technician. County planners say they've been working with descendents of Tucson's early settlers for the past year.

[Note: To view video of this story, click here. For background article, click here.]

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Resuscitating Phoenix's Woodland district

[Source: Sue Doerfler, Arizona Republic] -- When Bertha Winfield first saw the house, its windows were boarded up and its walls were covered in graffiti. But Winfield thought it had potential. By the time she moved in nine years ago, the 1910 home, in the Woodland Historic District in downtown Phoenix, had been fixed up through a Phoenix affordable home program. It had been freshly painted and its wood floors refinished. It sported new windows, kitchen cabinets and appliances.

Winfield's 1,200-square-foot home [was] one of six historic and new buildings on the Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future Street Fair and Home Tour in Woodland. The tour [was] sponsored by the Capitol Mall Association, which has worked with city and state offices, community leaders, and others to help rebuild the neighborhood. Kay Jerin, the association's program director, want[ed] tourgoers to witness the changes in the 180-home district, bounded by Van Buren Street and the alley north of Adams Street, Seventh and 16th avenues. It is within the Capitol Mall area, which extends south to Harrison Street and west to 19th Avenue. [Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo of Winfield residence by Sherrie Buzby, Arizona Republic.]

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hohokam remnants found at Peoria's Terramar Park

[Source: Julie Anne Conolly, Independent Newspapers] -- After several years, many community meetings and several frustrations, the Terramar Community is finally getting a park by December 2, if all goes as planned. In 2000, the city started a master plan for a 23-acre park at 73rd and Giles drives. Six months into the project, city officials discovered the site was protected by the Army Corps of Engineers as a cultural resource, according to Peoria’s Park Director Kirk Haines. Remnants of a Hohokam Native American community, dating from the first century, were found on the site, and city officials decided to preserve the cultural site.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo of contractor Scott Henderson and Peoria’s construction manager Bill Beaudoin by Julie Anne Conolly.]

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Latino areas may join Phoenix historic register

[Source: Monica Alonzo-Dunsmoor, Arizona Republic] -- A Phoenix historic survey has identified two-dozen areas that embody the essence of Hispanic culture and history. A Hispanic Historic Property Survey has recommended churches, cemeteries, businesses and homes of notable Hispanics be added to the city's list of historic places. Another 20 properties included in the study are listed on a register of historic places.

City historic preservation officials are expected to evaluate the recommendations and move forward with listing properties on the Phoenix Historic Property Register, said Barbara Stocklin, the city's Historic Preservation Officer. She said those additions are likely to occur later this year through early 2007. [Note: To read the full article, including the full survey list, click here. Photo of St. Anthony's Church by Liturgical Environs.]

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Downtown Phoenix yields a rare archaeological find

[Source: Angela Cara Pancrazio, Arizona Republic] -- Streams of sweat rolled down Mark Hackbarth's face. The archaeologist and his crew dug with shovels and hand trowels. Nearby, bulldozers rumbled under the hot summer sun on another corner of the downtown construction site for the new Phoenix Convention Center. Because of tight construction schedules, Hackbarth had 30 days to excavate the remains of a prehistoric Hohokam village that had been preserved under the old Phoenix Civic Plaza. When Hackbarth was called to the site at the end of July, he expected to find Hohokam ruins. But even after 20 years of archaeological work in the Valley, he never imagined the immensity of what he found.

Hackbarth uncovered three of the earliest known pithouses in the Phoenix metropolitan area, houses that were 3,000 years old. And as he dug, he kept finding more traces of the ancient civilization. Today, thousands of artifacts from the dig rest in a Tempe laboratory as Hackbarth analyzes one of the Valley's greatest archaeological finds. With downtown Phoenix engrossed in its biggest burst of construction since World War II, the discovery in its heart is a reminder of how far back the area's history goes. [Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo of Phoenix Convention Center excavation by Angela Cara Pancrazio, Arizona Republic.]

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Phoenix Village Planning Commitee rejects extension to historic overlay

[Source: Rebecca I. Allen, Arizona Republic] -- A City Council-appointed panel has sided with property owners, recommending against a historic district expansion that council members initiated. On a 10-2 vote, the Encanto Village Planning Committee denied the expansion that would add 12 properties on the north side of McDowell Road between 11th and 15th avenues to the Encanto-Palmcroft Historic District.

The City Council's initiation of the expansion has come under fire. Although City Council does have the authority, normally the Historic Preservation Commission does the initiating with a two-thirds majority of owners on board. In this case, none of the 12 property owners was involved and when they were informed, after the City Council began the process, they opposed the historic overlay zoning.

The owners said the City Council is trying to take away their property rights and decrease property values. Historic preservation advocates say the intent is to align the city's boundary of the historic district with that of the National Register of Historic Places. They believe the zoning change would increase value of homes in the neighborhood. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A walk down memory avenue in Tempe

[Source: Nicole Fuggs, Arizona State University State Press Magazine] -- Mill Avenue isn't just a spot for shoppers or a nightlife nexus. It's a little slice of Arizona's history. So sit back and let SPM school you on this blast from the past. Urban Outfitters, Starbucks and Hippie Gipsy by day. Hooters, the Library and the Big Bang by night. These are several of the iconic locations that draw students to Mill Avenue. But contrary to popular belief, it wasn't always the brew that brought visitors to this mecca of activity.

While some people might assume that Tempe is devoid of a rich culture and history, it turns out that Mill Avenue has been a hot spot of activity for decades -- dating back all the way to the late 1870s. In fact, Mill Avenue was established as a main gathering place for Tempe residents long before ASU became a university. By taking a look at Mill Avenue's history, it's possible to get an idea of just how much Tempe's culture has evolved over the years. This is the history of Mill Avenue. And no, this lesson will not be followed by a pop quiz.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo of what was once a saddle shop is now home to Rula Bula, Tempe’s resident Irish pub; photo source Tempe Historical Museum.]

Northern Pima Co. chamber needs more room to sell tourism

[Source: Danielle Sottosanti, Arizona Daily Star] -- The Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce is looking for corporate and consumer support to build a 5,000-square-foot economic and cultural center on the Northwest Side. The proposed building would house all chamber staff and operations in a 1,500-square-foot Chamber Operations Center, but also act as a "central hub for commerce, tourism and community information in the region," said Jerry Bustamante, the chamber's president.

The chamber hopes to "partner with other agencies that would encompass tourism, commerce, economic development, the arts and historic preservation," he said. The organization conducted a readiness study and found a strong need for such a building. Right now, there is no location in northern Pima County that serves newcomers, seasonal visitors and tourists, Bustamante said.

Though brochures are available at the chamber's offices, there simply isn't enough room in the 1,200-square-foot space for a full tourist-information center. The proposed building would include a 700-square-foot visitor center for tourists to get the lowdown on local attractions, and a 500-square-foot gift shop filled with postcards, books about Arizona, souvenirs and work by local artists and authors. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Rustic red roof for Santa Cruz Historic Museum is temporary

[Source: Temple A. Stark, Casa Grande Dispatch] -- While the mark at the fundraising thermometer could be seen rising, the Santa Cruz Valley Historic Museum and Visitors Center appeared unchanged. That was, until this week. Over about four days, a new "rustic red" roof was placed and secured on top of the museum's building. Tom's Welding & Canopy of Phoenix did the work. For about the last two years, museum directors have been asking the public, the city and local businesses for money. Guide and historian Dick Myers said it was about time there was something to see for their efforts and generosity.

Myers said he tried to contact local contractors first, but they weren't interested. Because of the nonprofit and historic nature of the project, Tom Davis, owner of Tom's Welding, knocked about $3,000 off the bid price of $17,000 for materials and labor. The roof is metal; to be specific, it is 26-gauge with a baked-on powdered enamel coating. Davis said the color is guaranteed unchanged for at least 25 years.

The same material also will be put atop the smaller, neighboring "colored" school. Myers said the roofing is meant to be temporary because it does not conform to historical standards. "In maybe five years, after we get a structural assessment (of weight load) to the main building, we'll get a roof that the State Historic Preservation Office says will work," Myers said. "The goal would be to use the fencing as canopies for antique farm equipment on the museum grounds." If work and materials do meet state preservation rules, the museum can apply for grants to help pay for them. [Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo (left) of roof work being done; photo (right) before roof work.]

Friday, September 15, 2006

"Historic" label dividing Tempe neighbors

[Source: Katie Nelson, Arizona Republic] -- The prospect of designating Tempe's oldest remaining neighborhood as "historic" is digging into what's already a deep divide between community members in the area. The Maple-Ash neighborhood is the fourth group to seek the city's protective measure that regulates exterior building standards to preserve its character. Opponents fear the designation will add red tape to any changes they might want to make to their homes as well as discourage developer interest in their property.

That battle has become undoubtedly the most volatile the city has seen so far, as accusations of "sensationalistic scare tactics," "bullying," "intimidation" and "political pressure" are slung. Some of the controversy is caused by the diversity of the stakeholders who live, rent, own and do business in the 338-home area, which is tucked into a corner between downtown and Arizona State University. The neighborhood's multi-family housing zoning also heightens the stakes because it is more favorable to developers, ratcheting up the property values by leaps and bounds. Add in a decades-long history of personality clashes between passionate neighbors, and it should come as no surprise that the issue is causing contention.

The groups for and against the designation have mobilized their backers. As a result, more than 75 e-mails and countless phone calls have poured in to city officials and staff from people who live in and outside of the area, hoping to sway what will ultimately be a City Council decision. So far, more than 80% of those e-mails to the city have been in favor of the designation, according to Mark Vinson, city architect and community design manager. Both the proponents and opposition have circulated mailers or fliers as well. One uses emphatic language to encourage landowners to "stop the activists," and calls the push for the measure a "backdoor scheme." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Heritage Square restaurateurs juggle two careers

[Source: Claire Bush, Arizona Business Gazette] -- Tom Virgil is in perpetual motion. As he darts among tables checking on diners, fetching drinks at the bar and greeting arrivals at Circa 1900, downtown Phoenix's new eatery in Heritage Square, the soft spoken restaurateur looks the picture of ease and charm. But then, service with a smile is nothing new for Virgil, whose day job has him on the road full time as a flight attendant for Tempe-based U.S. Airways.

Virgil and business partners Robert McCarville and Randy Betnar opened Circa 1900 in May on the site of the former Silva House as an adjunct to their successful Coronado Café two miles away on Seventh Street. The downtown site "sort of fell into our lap," Virgil said. "When we heard the Silva House was available, it fit into our plans to expand. We're excited about the way the area is growing." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Indians say Arizona ski resort desecrates mountains

[Source: David Kravets, AP Legal Affairs Writer] -- A dozen Southwestern Indian tribes plan to ask a federal appeals court here Thursday to block upgrades to an Arizona ski resort they say already desecrates the mountains they hold as sacred. The San Francisco Peaks are said to be the mother of the Navajo, where White Mountain Apache adolescent girls ascend into womanhood in the Sunrise Ceremony. For the Havasupai, the peaks overlooking Flagstaff, are the origin of humans. To the Hopi, they are the point in the physical world defining the tribe. But on the western flank of these peaks, which have names like Humphrey's, Agassiz, Doyle and Fremont, rests what the tribes say is an affront to their religion: the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort.

The tribes say the 777-acre resort in the Coconino National Forest desecrates the land and might be cause for the Sept. 11 attacks, the tsunami, recent hurricanes and the Columbia shuttle crash. The tribes want the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to block proposed resort improvements, which include the spraying of machine-generated snow, for fear of more universal ills and further desecration of their land. "The peaks are a single living entity. What they are doing is poisoning that entity and disrupting the spirits that live there and the whole balance of life," said Howard Shanker, a Navajo attorney who will argue before a three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based appeals court. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Saturday, September 09, 2006

$5,000 raised to help preserve Fry Cemetery

[Source: Amanda Baillie, Sierra Vista Herald/Review] -- Volunteers trying to preserve one of the few remaining historic sites in the city have now raised more than $5,000. Thanks to a $500 donation from Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, coupled with contributions from members of the community, the Fry Pioneer Cemetery Committee received more than $1,100 in August. Its fund now stands at $5,310.22. The money is being raised to help buy the burial site, located north of Fry Boulevard between Sixth Street and Seventh Street, which is owned by a member of the Fry family, now living in California. It is home to at least 200 graves of the early settlers of Sierra Vista and contains the Fry family plot.

The committee also has applied to have the graveyard placed on the list of Arizona Historical Sites. A packet, which includes letters of support from local residents who have relatives buried in the cemetery, as well as from members of the Fry family and Gov. Janet Napolitano, has been sent to the State Historic Preservation Office in Phoenix. “This sacred property is significant for its association with local and state history, and it illustrates the positive interaction of European-American settlers with Hispanic and African-American natives and immigrants in the development of the state of Arizona,” said committee chairman Tom Shupert in a letter to Kathryn Leonard, National Register coordinator. “This human burial ground merits the respect, reverence and protection of Sierra Vista, Fort Huachuca and surrounding communities — actually the entire state of Arizona.”

At its monthly meeting on Wednesday, the committee also heard that its application for a $50,000 grant from the Tohono O’odham Nation, which distributes profits from its casinos, was unsuccessful. However, representatives from the Yaqui nation in Tucson say they are considering visiting Sierra Vista, as it is believed there may be at least two members of the tribe buried in the cemetery. They would like to establish whether this claim is true, Shupert said. In the meantime, genealogists Golden Ferguson and Julie Shellberg have started work on finding more information on the 200 people known to be buried in the cemetery.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Coolidge tries to revive dormant downtown

[Source: Susan Padilla, Arizona Republic] -- With 30 to 40 percent of Coolidge's downtown vacant, the city is on the move to revitalize the area while maintaining its historical features. Most buildings date to the 1940s and 1950s, which doesn't make a pedestrian-friendly area. "It was a very stark time," said Alton Bruce, the city's economic development director. "We are trying to keep points from the historic times but also add to it without leaving the past behind. It is a tough balancing act."

The city has hired HyettPalma Inc., a national consulting firm that specializes in economic enhancement of downtowns. The company's goals include recruiting businesses, enhancing public spaces and improving traffic flow. "We picked HyettPalma because they have a good track record for doing this type of work," Bruce said.

City planner Joshua Busard said the city is forming a process committee that will be made up of community leaders interested in improving downtown. "They will help take surveys and talk to business owners and property owners in the downtown areas," Busard said. "They will have face time with HyettPalma to discuss their feelings about downtown." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Arizona receives $515,549 in Scenic Byways grants

[Source: Margie Emmermann, Arizona Office of Tourism] -- Acting Secretary of Transportation Maria Cino has selected 309 projects in 45 States to receive a total of $25.5 million in discretionary National Scenic Byways Program grants in 2006. Since 1992, the National Scenic Byways Program has provided more than $275 million in funding for 2,181 State and nationally designated byway projects in 50 States, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Arizona has received 2006 National Scenic Byways Discretionary funding for ten new Scenic Byways Grants totaling $515,549. The approved projects include several enhancements on the Navajo Nation, improvements to Route 66, and more. Click here for more information on Arizona’s current Scenic Roads.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Status of Casa Grande historic buildings worries city, state officials

[Source: Casa Grande Dispatch] -- Along with pushing for better redevelopment planning for old downtown Casa Grande, the city needs to start taking care of its historic buildings, the City Council has again been told, possibly by enacting a tough preservation ordinance similar to that of Tempe. During a presentation on requests by the Central City Redevelopment District Subcommittee, Chairman Kirk McCarville told the council, "We also wanted to talk a little bit about the endangered buildings. "The thing that's going on with those - to try to define it - is demolition by neglect. That's exactly what's going on with those buildings, and they will not be here that much longer if something is not done. They're very much in jeopardy right now."

During an earlier presentation, McCarville told the council that he and Main Street Executive Director Marge Jantz had attended the annual meeting of the Arizona Preservation Foundation "and we've been told the Fisher Memorial Home, which is over here on Eighth Street, has been placed on the 10 Most Endangered Historic Places list by the foundation because of the state of repair, because of the fact that there's been no reinvestment in that property for God knows how many years. It's falling apart, the windows are broken in."

The building in question is a former mortuary at the northeast corner of Eighth Street and Olive Avenue. "It's about to be lost, it's going to collapse, there's going to be a fire, I'm sure the electrical's not up to date, it's a hazard," McCarville said. "In fact, it could be delisted, taken off the National Register because of the condition that it's in. That has happened to other properties around here. "There's some leadership that needs to happen on doing something with that property. And I don't have a specific suggestion for you right now, but that's something that needs to be looked into as part of the overall development. It's one of the few National Register buildings we have left downtown and it's in a grave, grave situation as it sits today." The building is privately owned and in addition to decaying has also become a junk area on all sides. Jantz said that two other structures are on the endangered list.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo of Fisher Memorial House in Casa Grande.]

Volunteer advisers sought by parks group

[Source: Larry Copenhaver, Tucson Citizen] -- The Arizona State Parks Board seeks recreation, historic preservation, and environmental enthusiasts to serve as advisers. There are 14 openings on four advisory boards, including the Arizona State Committee on Trails, Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, Natural Areas Program Advisory Committee, and Off-Highway Vehicle Advisory Group. Terms begin January 1, 2007. The deadline for submitting an application is 5 p.m. September 29. For more information, call 602-542-4174.

Oro Valley archeological site open for tours through September 8

Honey Bee Village, a large Hohokam ball court community that is over 1,000 years old, is on display through September 8 during a series of public tours of the site. Desert Archaeology is offering tours each Wednesday and Friday, beginning at 7:30 a.m., at Moore Road, east of Rancho Vistoso Boulevard. Honey Bee Village is the largest of several similar projects intended to protect sites of historical value while work proceeds on adjacent commercial and residential construction. The preservation project is cooperative partnership of Cañada Vistas Homes, Oro Valley, Pima County, and the Tohono O’odham Nation.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Inaugural tour of downtown Phoenix religious buildings set for October 21

[Source: Ruth Ann Marston, Arizona Historical Society] -- Pictured at left is First Congregational Church, just one of the historic buildings that housed religious congregations in early downtown Phoenix. Tour it and five other historic buildings on Saturday, October 21, 2006. The Central Arizona Chapter of the Arizona Historical Society will sponsor a bus tour beginning at 9 a.m. in the parking lot of the New Times building at 1201 E. Jefferson St. The tour will take approximately three hours. Tickets for the tour are $35. To reserve your seats, send a check to: Foundations of Faith Tour, Arizona Historical Society Museum, 1300 N. College Ave., Tempe AZ 85281.

Other buildings on the tour: First Presbyterian Church, Saint Mary’s Basilica, Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal, Temple Beth Israel, and Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.

Interested in oral history? Attend September 13 workshop in Phoenix.

[Source: James LaBar, Salt River Project] -- Interested in oral history? Come find out more at the Oral History for Historical Societies & Museums Workshop. Whether you are starting in oral history or brushing-up your skills, this how-to workshop covers all the basics. You will learn about oral history project planning, research, equipment, interviewing techniques, and legal and ethical considerations. Special consideration will be given to using oral history to augment historical society and museum programs.
  • Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2006 (part of the AASLH Annual Meeting)
  • Time: 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
  • Place: Phoenix Museum of History, Heritage and Science Park, 105 North 5th St., Phoenix
  • Phone: 602-253-2734
  • Cost: $35 including lunch
Workshop leaders: Bradley B. Williams, Director, Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society, Pasadena, CA; and Mary Ann Larson, Assistant Director, University of Nevada Oral History Program, Reno, NV

Preregistration is required and enrollment is limited. Click here to download a form and fax to 615-327-9013. Conference registration and membership in AASLH is not required.

On September 11 Phoenix seeks public input on downtown Taylor streetscape

The city of Phoenix seeks public comment on proposed streetscape improvements for the Taylor Mall pedestrian corridor. A public meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday, September 11, at the Phoenix City Council Chambers, 200 W. Jefferson St. For more information, click here.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Proposal revives old Tucson street names

[Source: Rob O'Dell, Arizona Daily Star] -- Once upon a time, back in Tucson's presidio and territorial days, its streets didn't have names like Pennington, Congress and Main. Instead, those streets were named, respectively, Calle del Arroyo, Calle de la Alegria and Camino Real. Councilman Steve Leal wants to honor those names of the past in the present by installing street signs with the historic names from past eras around Downtown. Like La Calle del Campo, which became Camp Street, and ultimately, Broadway. "It adds another layer of intrigue, appreciation or interest," Leal said. "It gives an immediate relationship between past and present."

He is also proposing a decorative plaque on the street poles or on the sidewalk to explain the old street name and what the streets were like at the time of the walled presidio, the fortress that protected the community in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Even places where the streets aren't there any more, like Downtown's Calle de la India Triste (Street of the Sad Indian Lady), which became Maiden Lane before vanishing entirely as Tucson grew, could be recognized. Although Leal couldn't give a ballpark estimate for what the signs would cost, he said they would be a cheap and effective way to spruce up Downtown and drum up interest. He said the street signs have been proposed several times in various forms, but never materialized. He has put the issue on this Wednesday's City Council agenda for the council to discuss. Leal said he wants staff to come up with a cost estimate.

Tom Peterson, retired director of the Southern Division of the Arizona Historical Society, said some Downtown street names were in Spanish from the presidio times until as recently as the early 1900s. Leal said he is not attempting to change the official names of the streets to their originals, but only to install decorative street signs to honor the past. Marty McCune, the city's historic preservation officer, said the historic street signs are a good idea. But she said the street names need to have a plaque that explains them. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]