Monday, January 30, 2006

New city and county plan to protect Tucson's Tumamoc Hill rezones it

[Source: Erica Meltzer, Arizona Daily Star] -- City and county officials have a new plan to ensure 320 acres of state trust land on Tumamoc Hill never becomes a housing development. The move comes just days after the Arizona Preservation Foundation named the Desert Laboratory one of the most endangered historic sites in the state. The plan will require the cooperation of state land officials. Tucson City Councilman Jose Ibarra and Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias, whose ward and district include Tumamoc Hill, have asked the state to reduce the zoning on the site to prevent it from being developed and to reduce its market value. In exchange, the city and the county would allow more intensive land use on other state trust land.

The hill west of Downtown is part of the University of Arizona's century-old desert plant research center, but the land could be sold for development to raise money for public schools. "If you put a high-intensity housing development next door, it would endanger the long-term integrity of the Desert Laboratory," said Julio Betancourt, the laboratory's director. "If they could down-zone it to make it less palatable to developers, that would be a good thing."

Its current zoning would allow one house per acre to be built on the flatter lands on the west side of the hill. The zoning could be changed to either institutional reserve or open space, Ibarra said. "By taking this action, it gets us extremely close to protecting a vital research park and open space," he said.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Linda Mayro.]

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Housing development, freeway spell end of Glendale's Tanita Farms

[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] -- After nearly 80 years, one of the Valley's last remaining Japanese-American farming families has greased the old tractor for the last time. The Tanita family, which for more than a decade sold freshly picked organic fruits and vegetables from a rustic steel shack along Loop 303, has cashed out on the last of its agricultural land. The new Estrella Freeway and more homes will be built on the 70-acre Waddell farm. The closure of Tanita Farms marks the end to three generations of farming for the family. And it's left both patrons and employees at a loss for words. "I know they need (the freeway), but it's sad to see the farm go," six-year employee Tonya Reynolds managed to say before choking up and walking away.

The farm, near the Wildlife World Zoo just south of Northern Avenue, produced up to 100 crops a year, from watermelons and sweet corn to broccoli and bok choy. Specialty items included wasabi peanuts, dried chili peppers and Japanese rice crackers. Customers seemed resigned that the new freeway will mean the farm and other remnants of the West Valley's agricultural roots will be no more. "We're going to miss it, but that's the price of progress," said Goodyear resident Robert Lehto, who was picking up a bag of navel oranges with his wife, Collette. "It's just the downside of all the growth in this area."

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo of Susie Porter, Tonya Reynolds, and Rusty Tanita of Tanita Farms, Michael Ging, Arizona Republic.]

Keep character in Paradise Valley (editorial)

[Source: Scottsdale Republic] -- It's not surprising that Paradise Valley is experiencing growing pains. Or, should we say, regrowing pains. The town requires homes be built on 1-acre lots, so people are buying older homes and razing them for the more valuable land. Tastes have changed. People want studies, exercise rooms and movie theaters, and sometimes it makes more sense to demolish rather than remodel. But the quest for new and modern is taking its toll on some of Paradise Valley's most established neighborhoods. Nearly 150 homes have been demolished in the past two years, despite the town's efforts to ease remodeling restrictions.

Scottsdale saw a similar problem in some of its post-World War II neighborhoods and is finally warming to the idea of historical preservation. The city has taken steps to give two 1950s neighborhoods and the storied Taliesin West a historic designation. But some Paradise Valley leaders are still rather cold to the idea. We're not saying the town should create some wide-ranging historic zoning overlay. Go too far and you could stymie all meaningful redevelopment. But residents do need incentives to preserve their homes, especially when land is at a premium and it's still as easy to raze as it is to remodel.

City leaders told residents to form a homeowners association or voluntarily place deed restrictions on their properties. No one ever has, leading Councilman Dan Schweiker to conclude in the Scottsdale Republic, "They're only concerned about that preservation until it's time for them to put their house on the market." If that's the case, maybe prospective buyers should be reminded that even if homes look older on the outside, many can or have been remodeled inside to suit modern tastes.

Paradise Valley doesn't even have a historic property registry. The registry would at least identify which structures are historically significant. That's half the battle. Paradise Valley may not have many "old" homes, but it is in danger of losing many quaint, modest homes to progress. Homes that, as longtime resident Helen Harold says, were built "so that the desert dominated." Lose that feeling, and the town could lose some of its character.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Plans progress to reuse Phoenix's historic Franklin School

[Source: Karina Bland, Arizona Republic] -- Neighbors near the old Franklin School got a peek at plans to put a public safety high school there. Officials from the Phoenix Union High School District, architects, and a general contractor recently met with residents in nearby F.Q. Story and Fairview Place historic districts to answer questions and show off a $4 million planned renovation.

Residents are excited about the plans, says Steve Dreiseszun, president of the Story Preservation Association. Franklin School at 1645 W. McDowell Road has sat empty for decades, falling into disrepair. Phoenix Union bought the school from the Phoenix Elementary School District for $10,000 in 2005. The neighborhood already is bordered on one side by Kenilworth Elementary School. Dreiseszun says children bring life to a neighborhood. About 400 students are expected to attend the public safety high school when it opens in 2007.

Right now, the program is housed at Metro Tech High but is open only to juniors and seniors. The new school will be open to freshmen and sophomores, too, with all core classes offered on site in addition to courses in fire science, law enforcement or emergency medical training. Work is expected to begin in March, district spokesman Craig Pletenik said. This is the second of three small schools planned for the Phoenix district. The first, Cyber High, opened this month. A bioscience school will open in August in downtown Phoenix, though students won't be in their own new building until 2007.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

As courthouse crumbles, Pinal scrambles to save it

[Source: Carl Holcombe, Arizona Republic] -- The 115-year-old Pinal County Courthouse is showing its age and facing a questionable future. Brick walls are disintegrating. Crews drag children's wading pools into second-floor courtrooms to catch the water that leaks through the roof during heavy rains. "No one is saying the building is going to fall down tomorrow, but we know that's an eventuality unless we fix some things," said Ernie Feliz, Pinal County's grants coordinator. "It's been a building that's captured the hearts and imaginations of people in Florence and the county."

Pinal's is one of the oldest courthouses in Arizona. It was the state's oldest active courthouse until late 2005, when the Treasurer's Office and Assessor's Office moved to a new building. The county believes it will take about $4 million to realize its dream of restoring the courthouse and turning it into a museum, visitor's center and conference center.

About $270,000 worth of work has shored up the 24,000-square-foot clock tower to keep it from tipping over. Now, $750,000 is needed to repair a bowed section of the roof that's causing rainwater to seep into the building, Feliz said. A mix of federal, state and county grants will cover about $500,000 of that work. Additional funds are needed for general restoration throughoutthe courthouse and repair of the disintegrating masonry underneath some first-floor windows. If the repairs aren't made, especially those to the roof, Feliz said, the building will continue to disintegrate and will have to be demolished. To help save the historic building, the county has applied for a $100,000 State Historic Preservation Fund grant, but it's also dipping into an untapped reserve: the good hearts of local residents.

Residents can buy one of the bricks set in the walkways leading to the courthouse for $50 and have their names or a message carved into it. Eighty bricks out of about 3,000 have been sponsored so far, raising about $4,000, Feliz said. Rhoda Anderson, 83, worked in a state civil defense office at the courthouse for six years in the 1960s and always appreciated its Victorian architecture dating from 1891. "I'm very attached to that old courthouse," the Coolidge resident said. "I'm one of those people who thinks if we don't keep our past, we don't know where we are in our present."

Pinal County's courthouse is vital to the town and county's historic identity, Florence town historian John Swearingen said. It is also a key component of the town's effort to revitalize its historic downtown. "It's the most historic structure the county owns, and it's the most beautiful building owned by the county," Swearingen said. "It's been a part of the life of the town and county." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Arizona airstrips lost, but not forgotten

[Source: Betsey Bruner, Arizona Daily Sun] -- Weeds may grow out of their runways today, but many of Arizona's smallest and oldest airports were once on the cutting edge of air travel during the golden years of U.S. aviation from the mid-1920s through World War II. Although preservation of Arizona's historical railroad and mining locations is common, these original airports and landing sites have been overlooked and only four aviation-related sites are listed on the state's register of historic places.

Arv Schultz, president of the Arizona Pilots' Association, is passionately interested in the preservation of Arizona's historic landing fields. He is active in the association's efforts to rescue these fields by finding creative new uses for them, such as youth aviation academies and camps and educational historic displays.

Schultz presented a lecture and slide show on the subject at Riordan Mansion State Historic Park. "There's so many of these little airports," he said Monday, in a phone interview from his home in Phoenix. "Barry Goldwater said he landed in every airport in Arizona. He said there were 200. Some of the older airstrips in Arizona are still in existence. Some were started by ranchers, and some were started by miners."

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo of Roy Burris, Sr., Mr. & Mrs. Carr, and J. Parker Van Zandt in front of Scenic Airways Inc. plane, ca. 1928]

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bisbee celebrates anniversary with mine tours, reenactment on February 1

Starting with a dedication ceremony at 11 a.m. and including a historic reenactment by local students and train tour for dignitaries on Feb. 1, Bisbee will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Queen Mine Tour, one of the city’s original tourist attractions. Additional information on the anniversary celebration are available from the Bisbee Chamber of Commerce at (520) 432-5421 or toll-free at 1-877-424-7234. [Photo source: John Fern.]

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Arivaca Home Tour slated for January 28

[Source: Nogales International] -- For the fifth consecutive year, the public is invited to view homes on the Arivaca Home Tour. The tour will be held from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28. Proceeds will benefit the Arivaca Family, Community, and Education Association (AFCE). Since 1960, the association has been dedicated to the preservation and care of the 1897 schoolhouse (pictured above), reported to be the oldest standing school building in the state.

The tour will feature five homes of residents, as well as two historic structures. Featured will be: a Western ranch home on a historic cattle ranch; a home that began with 1,600 square feet of dirt floors and was transformed into a 5,600 square-foot beauty; an Arivaca building that is 130 years old; an Alaskan-style house with a spectacular cedar-beamed ceiling; a retirement home that is a retreat for migrating birds; a traditional Mexican adobe home with a large collection of paintings of Baboquivari; and the 1897 schoolhouse with a mural depicting its history.

Tickets are $10 before the tour and $15 the day of the tour. Tickets may be purchased Jan. 9 at the Green Valley Chamber of Commerce, and are available by mail at P.O. Box 652, Arivaca, AZ 85601, or by calling 520-398-3262. Each ticket is a brochure with details of the tour as well as a map.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Row over Chinatown landmark stirs memories

[Source: Angela Cara Pancrazio, Arizona Republic] -- If Mary Lum's Mesa house ever caught fire, she would grab the only thing she cares about: a plastic storage box overflowing with photos and documents, her great-grandmother's green card and a hand-colored photo of herself with her sister Suzie taken in Hong Kong before they came to America, a place the Chinese called Gold Mountain. These are some of the traces of the earliest Chinese families that are scattered and stacked inside homes across the Valley. A grandfather clock hanging on a wall, yellowed Chinese newspapers folded inside a cigar box, faded photos of family grocery stores crammed into dining room buffets.

Many Chinese-Americans, like Lum, are no longer willing to remain quiet about how their families, the first wave of Chinese immigrants, helped shape Arizona. Last fall, hundreds rallied to save the last remnant of Phoenix's Chinatown, known as the Sun Mercantile, when developers proposed building an 11-story condo and office tower atop the brick warehouse. But they weren't just trying to save the Chinatown landmark; they were trying to save their Chinese and Asian-American heritage here. The old grocery warehouse is the perfect place, they say, to tell their story. A place they plan to call the Arizona Asian-American Museum. And what story do they want to tell?

[Note: To read the full article, click here. To view the slideshow related to this article, click here. Photo of several of Mary Lum's family photographs by Angela Cara Pancrazio, Arizona Republic.]

Flagstaff historic preservationists seeing red

[Source: Rachel Peterson, Arizona Daily Sun] -- The color red is symbolic of energy, strength, success and it enhances relationships in Asian cultures. But in downtown Flagstaff, it might be taboo as a building color. A downtown business owner is battling with the Historic Preservation Commission over her use of the bright color to attract people to her Asian-influenced business. Commission members say their opposition has nothing to do with the culture of the store; the color doesn't fit the guidelines for earth-toned and pastel colors in the historic district's handbook, which is enforced by ordinance.

Khamsone Siriminivong, a native of Laos who migrated to the U.S. in the 1980s, opened her designer boutique on Route 66 in the historic district of Flagstaff in December. She painted the wood facade of the building red with black trim. She said she chose the color to revive the Asian culture in Flagstaff, which had a much stronger foothold here in the late 19th century -- the era the design committee is trying to imitate. "What I'm trying to bring back is awareness of Asians in Flagstaff," she said.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Jenn Ireland, Arizona Daily Sun.]

Financing historic theater rehabilitations topic of February 7-9 LA conference

On February 7-9, 2006, the conference, "Financing Historic Theater Rehabilitation Projects," will be held at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in Los Angeles, CA. Only one week left to take advantage of the early seminar registration fees and guaranteed, discounted hotel rates. For detailed information about accommodations and to download a registration form, click here.

In the current economy, finding funding for any project can be difficult. Donors and other funders are finding it increasingly more important to strongly identify with a project before they will participate. Now, more than ever, people need the skills and expertise to successfully plan and finance the rehabilitation of their historic venues, not just to support the missions of their organizations and reach their goals, but also to ensure their theaters have strong structures in place so they can successfully operate once the projects are complete.

In addition to two days of peer networking and professional development, seminar attendees will enjoy a tour and meet and greet reception on Tuesday evening, courtesy of the historic Los Angeles Theatre. In addition, on Thursday evening after the seminar concludes, attendees will be invited to a tour and reception at the Pantages Theatre (pictured above) hosted by the Nederlander Organization.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Wright group seeks Scottsdale zoning shift

[Source: Kate Nolan, Arizona Republic] -- A planned historic overlay for part of Taliesin West reached final stages with its recent approval by the Scottsdale Historic Preservation Commission. Now Taliesin's owner, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, is turning to another zoning project. The foundation is seeking special campus zoning for the 500-acre campus Wright started in the 1930s.

The designation would better protect the legacy of Wright's work on the site and allow the foundation both more certainty and flexibility in planning, said John Berry, an attorney for the foundation. "Taliesin's current zoning allows for less than one house per acre on the property. A special campus district would not allow that to occur," said Berry, noting that the real estate surrounding the campus has been developed as housing, except for the McDowell Mountains.

Berry helped draft the special zoning ordinance, which is modeled on the Taliesin and Mayo Clinic campuses. The expense of the rezoning process kept the Wright foundation from pursuing it in the past, foundation executive Beverly Hart said. Recent donations of professional services and funds have made the current effort possible, Hart said. The process will move to the Scottsdale Planning Commission when the foundation completes a development plan. [Photo source: Ron Williams.]

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Former mining town, Bisbee, is now a picturesque community

[Source: Erin White, Arizona Daily Star] -- This small mining town, once one of the largest cities west of the Mississippi, looks slightly out of place in Southern Arizona. About two hours from Tucson by car, Bisbee is perfect for a day trip or weekend away. Shades of green suffuse the typical desert browns and beiges. Instead of Southwestern-style adobe houses sprawled into neighborhoods, the architecture is small and tight. Two-story houses, full of windows and trimmed with eaves, shutters and porches, are stacked and packed together, more like San Francisco than Tucson.

Judy Donaldson, who spent a few days vacationing in the town from the Phoenix area, described it as "absolutely darling" and "geographically extraordinary." The narrow streets often leave enough room for only one car — not that traffic poses much of a problem. Bisbee residents tend to get around the main area of the town of about 6,000 on foot, and the old section, where most of the shops are, is small enough that you'll likely run into the same people several times over the course of a day.

Three areas come together in Bisbee: Old Bisbee and the largely residential Warren and San Jose. Forgive the clich├ęs, but Bisbee is quaint and picturesque with its hills, pastel houses and gossip-filled street corners. It is also still very much alive with history. Founded in 1880 as a mining camp that over the course of a century would produce 8 billion pounds of copper, more than 6 million pounds of silver and 175,000 pounds of gold, the town has deftly turned its former industry into a tourist draw.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: A.E. Araiza, Arizona Daily Star.]

Group seeks national listing for former Ft. Huachuca black officers club

[Source: Bill Hess, Sierra Vista Herald] -- The path to saving the black officers club on Fort Huachuca is getting smoother, according to a man leading an effort to protect it. Harlan Bradford, chairman of the Southwest Association of Buffalo Soldiers' project to save the World War II facility, also said his organization is hoping Building 66050 will be designated one of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He said the building being listed would be a great help in saving the facility. Last year, SWABS tried to have the building listed on the National Trust's list, but did not make it. "We were told we were close," Bradford said.

The building was the only club specifically constructed for black officers during World War II, when America's armed forces were segregated. A number of black stars visited the fort and performed at the club.

Bradford said a check for $10,700 also was sent to the U.S Army Corps of Engineers to process a lease for the abandoned structure, which initially was scheduled to be demolished. The Corps of Engineers is waiting on some additional information from fort officials and it is hoped by the end of the year the lease will be in hand so work on the structure can begin, he said. "We are hoping to have access to the building by the end of the year," he said.

But there is no resting this year because progress must continue, said Bradford, who is the association's chairman of the Mountain View Black Officers Rehabilitation Project. With the help of some University on Arizona departments, the group is looking for a general management plan that will include business, marketing, and fund-raising, Bradford said. The UA College of Architecture also has graduate students preparing a rendering and elevation documents. "Progress made in the past two years has been phenomenal," he said. "We will focus on fund-raising in 2006." [Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Southwest Association of Buffalo Soldiers.]

Groups appeal Phoenix City Council's Sun Mercantile Building decision

[Source: Save Merc Coalition] -- On Friday, January 13, 2006, in order to preserve their right as citizens and associations to litigate and provide reasonable notice of their continuing claims and legal theories, a motion was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court by the following groups:

Arizona Asian American Association, Arizona Asian American Museum Foundation, Arizona Preservation Foundation, Capitol Mall Association, Chinese United Association of Greater Phoenix, Downtown Voices Coalition, Garfield Neighborhood Association, NAILEM, Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix, Oakland University Park Neighborhood Association, Ong Ko Met Family Association, Organization of Chinese Americans (Phoenix Chapter), and Story Preservation Association. Other groups are considering joining the appeal.

The groups' sole concern is with the historic Sun Mercantile Building, not the W Hotel or adjacent new construction condominium. All parties want, advocate, and work for a vibrant, 24/7 downtown -– a downtown that looks to the future, but respects its heritage.

Legal counsel carefully researched and reviewed the Sun Mercantile Building issue. The appeal of the City Council’s decision is based on the following arguments:
  1. There is no credible evidence in the record supporting the City Council's reversal of the decisions by its own Historic Preservation Commission and Historic Preservation Officer.
  2. The City Council's decision is contrary to law. It directly contradicts the Phoenix Historic Preservation Ordinance and applicable state and federal historic preservation statutes, regulations, and rules.
  3. The City Council was obligated to review the decisions by the Historic Preservation Commission and Historic Preservation Officer as a quasi-judicial body, not as a legislative body. By approving the 11-story addition to the top of the Sun Mercantile Building the Council acted legislatively as opposed to quasi-judicially, thereby exceeding its legal authority and jurisdiction and abusing its discretion in approving a dramatic change to the Sun Mercantile Building.
  4. The City Council effectively removed the Historic Preservation zoning from the property (if left in place this action will likely result in the Sun Mercantile Building being removed from the National Register of Historic Places and/or the Arizona historic register) without adhering to the Phoenix Zoning Ordinance and proper notification process.
  5. The City Council's approval of the 11-story tower atop the Sun Mercantile Building is contrary to the Conservation, Rehabilitation, and Redevelopment Element of the City of Phoenix General Plan. The illegal zoning change effected by the approval of the 11-story tower is inconsistent with the Phoenix General Plan.

The groups have requested a temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, and/or permanent injunction that would prohibit the City and City Council from taking any further action in regard to redevelopment of the Sun Mercantile Building as approved by the Council on December 14, 2005.

Mesa historic home tour on Saturday, January 21

[Source: Amanda Myers, East Valley Tribune] -- Some of the most historic and architecturally intriguing homes will be open to the public Saturday during the Mesa Historic Home Tour, kicking off at 11 a.m. “It’s not just a major fundraiser for us,” says Lisa Anderson, president and CEO of the Mesa Historical Museum. “It’s also a chance to bring to light issues of historic preservation.”

This, the sixth year of the tour, offers a look at the inside of nine homes in the West Second Street and Robson historic districts. Two of the homes, says Anderson, are 100 years old this year. Architectural styles of the homes on tour range from Territorial to bungalows to Tudor revival. Homeowners and volunteers will be available on all stops of the tour to share the rich history and style story of each home. Also included on the tour are the Sirrine House Museum, the oldest restored home in Mesa, built in 1896 by Joel E. Sirrine, 160 N. Center St. (photo above). The Antique Wedding House will also be open for viewing. Built between 1916 and 1918 -- and home to one of Mesa’s first mayors -- it is also one of the oldest homes in the city.

Visitors can start the walking tour at the Mesa Historical Museum, 2345 N. Horne, and tour the museum’s quilt exhibit while enjoying entertainment from the Territorial Brass Band and clog dancers from Mesa’s Dance Network. The tour is open until 4 p.m., and lunch is included in the $15 ticket price. Advance tickets can be purchased at the museum, the Antique Wedding House, 307 E. First St., or the Charles Golding House (now the corporate office of Pete’s Fish and Chips and one of the homes on the tour), 203 N. Macdonald. [Photo source: City of Mesa.]

Florence Courthouse clock tower renovation completed, roof repairs next

[Source: Casa Grande Valley Newspapers] -- The new brick pavers line the walkway up to the Old Courthouse in Florence. Now that the Old Clock Tower project is complete, attention is being focused on much needed roof repairs. The Pinal County Board of Supervisors is pleased with the work done on the clock tower of the Old Courthouse. Since November of 2004, work has been performed on the interior and exterior of the clock tower structure. The efforts are part of a plan to restore the Old Courthouse, which was built in 1891.

[Note: To read the full article,
click here. Photo source of county officials inspecting the new 1891 Pinal County Courthouse: Pinal County.]

Over 200 tour Willcox historic homes

[Source: Arizona Range News] -- The inaugural Willcox Historic Home Tour, held January 14-15, was an "overwhelming success," said Louise Henderson, the tour's organizer. "Over the weekend, 223 tickets were sold, five couples opened their historic homes for tours, 23 volunteers graciously greeted guests, 22 middle and high school musicians performed, and 572 cookies were eaten."

Henderson said guests came from as far away as Canada, Oregon, California, Texas, Scottsdale, Tucson, and Green Valley, with many people attending from the Willcox area. "We hope other historic home owners were inspired as we look forward to the 2007 Willcox Historic Home Tour," she added.

[Note: In additon to the five homes, visitors toured the Historic Train Depot (pictured above) and former Hooker Town House. Photo source: City of Willcox.]

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Historic zoning hard sell in Paradise Valley

[Source: Diana Balazs, Arizona Republic] -- Is it time for a historic zoning overlay ordinance in Paradise Valley to protect older neighborhoods from teardowns and redevelopment? Town officials aren't convinced, although there are a number of residents who believe something needs to be done. Scottsdale and Phoenix have historic residential districts as well as historic registers listing buildings of significance, including homes. Many Paradise Valley residents want to preserve their older homes and neighborhoods, and the town is encouraging remodeling rather than scraping by easing restrictions.

The issue of historic overlays has come to light as vacant land quickly disappears and more developers turn to mature neighborhoods, demolishing existing homes and replacing them with new ones. In 2005, 79 single-family homes were demolished, compared to 68 in 2004. "It (a historic overlay) is something that we've discussed in the past, but it's not something the town is actively pursuing right now. That doesn't mean we won't look at it again in the future, but right now we're not looking at that," said Eva Cutro, the town's planning director.

Longtime resident Helen Harold wishes the town would. She said she has been trying for years to come up with some way to preserve older structures from the bulldozer. She lives in a concrete block house built in 1949 and designed by architect Blaine Drake, one of architect Frank Lloyd Wright's original apprentices. "We used to build houses so that the desert dominated. Now the houses seem to dominate the desert," Harold said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Monday, January 16, 2006

Form-based code conference set for February 23-25 in Berkeley, CA

Virginia Tech's Academy for the New Urbanism, in partnership with the Form-Based Codes Institute (FBCI), is holding a series of courses on form-based codes (FBC). Participants who complete the three-course sequence will receive a Certificate in Form-Based Codes from the FBCI. The next course, "Form-Based Codes 101: An Introductory Course," is scheduled for February 23-25 in Berkeley, CA. The early registration fee is $725. After February 9, the fee will be $785. Register online or call 540-231-5182.

Faculty for the introductory course will be drawn from among these FBC leaders: Paul Crawford, Andres Duany, Victor Dover, Geoffrey Ferrell, Peter Katz, Joseph Kohl, Mary Madden, Dan Parolek, Karen Parolek, Stefanos Polyzoides, Sam Poole, Steve Price, Robert Sitkowski, Dan Slone, Bill Spikowski.

The not-for-profit FBCI engages in research, standards setting, outreach, and education related to its mission of advancing the use and acceptance of form-based codes. The Academy for the New Urbanism is a program of the Planning Academy at Virginia Tech. The academy provides ongoing training for mid-career planning, design, and development professionals in a range of implementation-related practice areas.

Arizona Preservation Foundation announces 2006 Most Endangered Historic Places

The Arizona Preservation Foundation has released its 2006 list of Arizona’s most endangered historic places. Compiled by preservation professionals and historians, the list identifies critically endangered properties of major historical significance to the state, such as the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot in Casa Grande (pictured above). “All of the properties we have named are important historic sites in Arizona, but unfortunately are in grave danger of collapse, demolition, or destruction,” said Vince Murray, vice president of APF’s board and chair of its Most Endangered Historic Places review committee. “It is critical that residents and government officials act now to save these elements of their cultural heritage before it’s too late.”

Individuals interested in ensuring a listing’s preservation are encouraged to reply back via the “Comment” feature with each post or send us an e-mail. All feedback is appreciated. (Photo source: Marge Jantz.)

Arizonans contact us about threatened places

The Arizona Preservation Foundation receives numerous inquiries about “how do I save XYZ building?” We reply back, give advice, share ideas, and/or put them in touch with others who are more “in the know.” In the past few months, preservation-minded people have contacted us about the following buildings and sites. If you (or someone who know) are interested in learning more about these places or assisting in their preservation, please contact the person listed. If you know of another property that's threatened, send us an e-mail.
APF also publishes an annual "Most Endangered Places" list. The landmarks highlighted above may or may not be placed on that list, depending on their significance, urgency, and potential solutions.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Tucson study moves to ease process of formal historic designation

[Source: Andrea Kelly, Arizona Daily Star] -- Getting a historic designation for a neighborhood can be daunting, but 21 neighborhoods in Tucson have done it, and the city's Department of Urban Planning and Design is trying to make the process a little easier. Normally, a neighborhood has to go through many steps, including getting a contractor to inspect each house for its historical architecture and design. The department plans to do a study of all of the neighborhoods built after World War II to determine which ones have historical significance, said Marty McCune, historic preservation officer for the city.

The study will help the department develop more specific eligibility criteria, McCune said. Neighborhoods meeting the criteria will be encouraged to pursue a historical designation, she said. The midtown San Clemente Neighborhood earned its historical neighborhood status last spring after more than five years of hard work. The neighborhood has about 280 homes and is bordered by East Broadway, East Timrod Street, South Columbus Boulevard and South Alvernon Way.

Homeowners and volunteers completed some of the application work before the inspections began, said Tony Haswell, treasurer for the San Clemente Neighborhood Association. McCune suggests before any of the long-term research begins, find out how old the homes are. A majority of the homes in the neighborhood must be at least 50 years old, she said. Another consideration is the historical significance of the neighborhood, either in the architecture or the role the neighborhood played in Tucson's history, she said. "There are other issues, too, such as having had famous or significant people who've lived in the neighborhood," said Matt Zoll, president of the San Clemente Neighborhood Association.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. For more information, contact Kristi Jenkins at 520-791-4505. Photo source of San Clemente neighborhood home: A.E. Araiza, Arizona Daily Star.]

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Weathered hut on Atascosa Peak gets a makeover from volunteers determined not to let it go to pot

[Source: Doug Kreutz, Arizona Daily Star] -- A real estate agent might call this place a "fixer-upper." It's more than 70 years old, tiny, weathered and unadorned with such upscale features as plumbing, running water, phone lines, electricity or access by road. But get a load of the location: The onetime fire lookout is perched on a pinnacle of rock 6,249 feet in the sky with a soaring hawk's view of vast expanses of Southern Arizona and Sonora.

It's that spectacular setting northwest of Nogales -- along with the little hut's colorful history -- that inspired members of the Green Valley Recreation Hiking Club and other volunteers to become lookout fixer-uppers. Periodically since 1996, volunteers have hiked a 2.75-mile trail to the lookout to repair the roof, stabilize the catwalk, install a new door, fix shutters, make safety alterations on a wood stove, paint walls and remove debris. "The place was pretty much a mess," said Chris Schrager, an archaeologist with the Forest Service, which oversees the work. "The volunteers have been a great help with the preservation efforts up there."

Work isn't currently under way, but three volunteers from the hiking club trekked to the lookout last weekend with a reporter and photographer to assess progress on the project. Winding through oak woodlands under imposing cliffs, the trail ascends about 1,500 vertical feet — gradually most of the way but steeply at the end. "Well, the lookout's in better shape than it was before, and I have to tell you that working in a setting like this is not exactly bad duty," said club member Jim Jordan as he savored a summit panorama taking in distant Baboquivari Peak, the Pajarito Mountains and blue-green ranges fading into the horizon.

[Note: To read the full article,
click here. To help preserve Atascosa Lookout, contact Chris Schrager, a Forest Service archaeologist, at 520-388-8393. Photo source of hikers Jim Jordan and Bob Kotz: Dean Knuth, Arizona Daily Star.]

Friday, January 13, 2006

Restoration family's leak suit gets airing in Tucson

[Source: B. Poole, Tucson Citizen] -- A family known for restoring dozens of Tucson's oldest adobe buildings is about to go to court over a longstanding claim that leaky city water mains damaged some of those buildings. Since the early 1970s, Kelley Rollings has spearheaded a family effort to buy and restore more than 30 buildings in Barrio Viejo south of the Tucson Convention Center. Many of the buildings have crumbling walls and rusted electrical parts the family says are the result of moisture seeping in from leaky, century-old pipes under the streets.

After the city rejected claims for damages, the family sued in 2002. The family is asking for an unspecified amount to repair 16 of the properties, which will cost about $600,000, said Donald Rollings, a trustee of the Rollings Trust who is a plaintiff in the suit with his father, Kelley. "If the city can get it done for half of what we estimate, so be it. We're not trying to make money. We're trying to save the history," the younger Rollings said. The case is set for court Feb. 21. [Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Anne Weeks, Preservation Online]

Prescott prepares for Statehood Day Celebration at Elks Opera House

[Source: Elisabeth Ruffner] -- The Elks Opera House is owned on a condominium basis by the City Of Prescott, a purchase made several years ago from the Arizona Community Foundation. The city and the recently organized Elks Opera House Foundation, under a memorandum of understanding, have embarked on the final phase of the renovation project. The city operates the theater; the foundation is responsible for the renovation.

Interested persons can purchase an old theater seat for $500. The proceeds go toward the purchase of 398 new seats in the house and 138 refurbished 1927 seats in the balcony (with recognition plaques placed on the wall at the entrance).

A grant proposal has been submitted to the Arizona Heritage Fund to renovate the second lobby and then work will commence on a restoration of the boxes, proscenium arch, ceiling light fixture, painting, and carpeting, after the code required sprinkling has been completed.

On February 17, 2006, the Elks Opera House Foundation will hold the second annual celebration of Statehood Day (February 14, 1912) and 101st anniversary of the opening of the Elks (February 19, 1905). The event features dinner and dancing at the historic Hassayampa Inn, red carpet procession to the opera house, and show hosted by State Historian Marshall Trimble, including music from 1912 and an original play, "The Little Town That Could," by Sharlot Hall Museum’s Blue Rose Theater.

[Note: For more information, contact Susan Hampton at 928-443-8541. Photo source: City of Prescott.]

Thursday, January 12, 2006

State Archives back on track (for now)

The Polly Rosenbaum Arizona State Archives and History building was approved unanimously on December 20, 2005 by the Arizona Legislature's Joint Committee on Capitol Review. They decided to hire an independent construction manager to assist the Legislative Council in managing the project. This means that the architects will soon resume work on the plans. There is still no information on when the ground will be broken on the old Jackson School site or how much the delay created by House Speaker Jim Weiers and Representative Russell Pearce will cost due to the rising prices in construction materials.

According to Friends of Arizona Archives President Vince Murray, "We've been here before. Until I see construction happening on the Jackson School site, I won't have any confidence that we are even close to resolving this decades old problem." The current State Archives facility was designed in 1937 and ran out of space in 1965. [Photo source: Friends of Arizona Archives.]

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wickenburg history groups receive major support

[Source: Wickenburg Sun] -- The Wellik Foundation, a support organization of the Arizona Community Foundation (ACF), recently awarded $348,313 to Wickenburg organizations through a competitive grant process facilitated by ACF. Grants were made to 13 qualified public charities or tax-supported public entities in Wickenburg. All grants distributed from the Wellik Foundation serve residents of Wickenburg and the vicinity.

The Wellik Foundation was established by the late Viola Wellik, who wanted to preserve the values and traditions of small-town culture in Wickenburg. In 1998, she established a support foundation at ACF to benefit the residents of her Wickenburg community and the surrounding area. Her bequest resulted in a significant philanthropic endowment -- the Wellik Foundation, to ensure the community has a continuous source of funding to help address current and emerging community needs.

Wellik had many interests that included historic preservation, public art, education, and child and youth development. In addition, preserving the area's ranching and mining heritage as well as the desert environment were important to her.

History-related groups receiving grants in 2005 include:
  • Desert Caballeros Western Museum, $75,000
  • Nature Conservancy of Arizona, $43,000
  • Wickenburg Historical Preservation Society, $100,000

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Two WWII German POW camp huts moved to Tempe

[Source: Darlene Justus] -- Originally in Papago Park, the two huts in the top photo housed German Officer POWs during WWII. The POWs were mostly from the German Navy, many from submarines. Over the course of the war, over 3,200 POWs were detained in Papago Park. There are numerous stories, including the “great escape” of 25 POWs (all of whom were eventually caught).

In the 1950s, five huts were moved to Scottsdale & Thomas Road to be used as cottages. The rest were demolished. Three of the huts have now been moved for private use. The final two huts were slated for destruction if no one stepped forward to preserve them. The Tempe Historic Preservation Foundation facilitated their preservation. John Driggs, former mayor of Phoenix, passed along $5,000 from a benefactor. Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman pledged the remaining $3,000 needed, from private sources, to complete the move.

The huts are being stored in Tempe's Public Works yard while their final resting place is determined. The goal is to return them to Papago Park and restore them for future generations.

International adobe conservation workshop slated for October 2006 in Mexico

The Heritage Conservation Network is a non-profit organization that produces an annual series of hands-on building conservation workshops in association with local preservation partners around the world in order to further the sites’ preservation and provide an educational experience for participants. Its 2006 schedule includes an adobe conservation workshop at an all-but-abandoned mining town in Mexico on October 15-28, 2006.

For more information, contact Jamie Donahoe, Heritage Conservation Network, International Hands-on Workshops for Architectural and Site Conservation, 1557 North St., Boulder, CO 80304.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Rio Nuevo dig opens a window on Tucson's history

[Source: C.T. Revere, Tucson Citizen] -- This historic ground was just another paved lot for parking cars only a month ago. Today, the dusty parcel southwest of Church Avenue and Washington Street is a window to thousands of years of local human history and a glimpse into downtown Tucson's future.

While state lawmakers wrangle over future funding for Rio Nuevo and city officials tool and retool the notion of what they mean by "downtown redevelopment," Homer Thiel and his team are getting to the point. "People don't realize that among the buildings and streets in downtown Tucson, there are thousands of years of history," said Thiel, the bearded and bespectacled archaeologist whose job is to protect that history before the city builds a park to honor it.

The lot, nestled in the winter shadow of the Transamerica Building, will eventually house one of the first historical attractions in Rio Nuevo - the Presidio Historical Park. In concert with the Convento project near "A" Mountain and museums to be operated by the Arizona State Museum and The Arizona Historical Society, this project represents the most vital element of redevelopment - preserving and honoring our past. Plans for sunken highways, ornate bridges and sports venues are likely to come and go at the whim of a few or of the many.

The one thing we have is our past. There's enough of it being rekindled already to start breathing new life into the city's core. "This is a community that really values its heritage," said Marty McCune, the city's historic preservation officer. "There is so much depth of history here, incredible layers of history, even at the middle of downtown, where you'd think it would be gone."

[Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Sunday, January 08, 2006

National Trust seeks 2005 Preservation Month photos

The National Trust Communications Office is looking for photos of special events or activities sponsored by your organization last year during National Preservation Month in May, along with a brief description of the event or project. Communications wants to feature them on the Trust website as examples that other organizations might want to replicate. Please send the photos and information directly to Jeanne McPherson in Communications and cc:ed to Valecia Crisafulli at the Trust's Center for Preservation Leadership.

Friday, January 06, 2006

January 12 hearing set on historic zoning for Scottsdale's Taliesin West

[Source: Kate Nolan, Arizona Republic] -- Already named a National Historic Landmark, Taliesin West is nearing its designation as a Scottsdale historic site. A Jan. 12 public hearing and open house will review a zoning change proposed by the city's Historic Preservation Commission to designate 10.6 acres of the 540-acre north Scottsdale campus as HP, or historic preservation.

Proposed boundaries for the historic section were worked out by the commission and Taliesin's owner, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Within the planned boundaries are buildings Wright and his apprentices designed and built, starting in the 1930s.

The open house/hearing at 4 p.m. at the Scottsdale Community Design Studio on Indian School Road will give the public an opportunity to inspect plans and ask questions. Beverly Hart, chief operating officer of the foundation, said the proposed rezoning is the start of an effort to update zoning for the entire campus. "There are really two processes - the historic core designation and a special-campus designation," Hart said. The second effort would ensure that the foundation's use of the property conforms to its public education mission. The property's current zoning supports residential and mixed-use development. [Photo source: Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.]

Thursday, January 05, 2006

State & local history group seeks award nominations

[Source: Kyle McKoy, Curator of Education & Community Programs, Arizona Historical Society] -- The American Association of State and Local History (AASLH) awards and membership program seeks nominations for its “Leadership in History” awards for 2006. Since the conference will be held in Phoenix, the local planning committee would really like to get a good showing for Arizona projects. Last year, three Arizona projects were nominated and all three won awards in Pittsburgh. The 2005 award winners are not yet on the AASLH website, but will be soon for persons interested in viewing the details.

If you know of anyone interested in nominating themselves, or if you know of any projects or people that are worthy of nomination, please pass this information on to them. For assistance in walking through the nomination process, call me at 480-929-0292, ext.132.

Group starts campaign to preserve Fry Cemetery in Sierra Vista

[Source: Amanda Baillie, Sierra Vista Herald/Review] -- The campaign to save and preserve the historical Fry Cemetery has officially been launched. A citizens’ committee set up to take on the task met for the first time Wednesday. The group is made up of local residents concerned about the future of the city landmark, part of which was put up for sale in 1999 by its owner, a member of the Fry family, who were the area’s original settlers in the early 1900s.

The owner, who lives in California, wants to sell a strip of land between Sixth Street and Seventh Street for $69,900, but has stipulated that the Fry family still be allowed to be buried there. The Fry Cemetery Preservation Committee believes the location should become a state historical site because it is home to around 200 graves of past residents of Sierra Vista and surrounding areas, possibly dating back to the 1800s. It is the committee’s hope that the money to buy the cemetery can be raised through local events and donations and that the burial site can be maintained and become part of a planned self-guided walk in the historical part of the city.

“This is no short term deal,” committee chair Tom Shupert said. “It will take time and commitment and we need to look at what we want to accomplish in the next six months to a year. We need to start by becoming known and letting people know what we are doing.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Scottsdale finally getting significance of its history; recognizing past a first step

[Source: Editorial Page, Scottsdale Republic] -- Scottsdale has long had some strange ideas about historic preservation. The fast-growing, still relatively young city somehow got the reputation as a place with no history, just that fabricated "West's Most Western Town" motto. This is partly because for years city officials and developers had no respect for many of the cool landmarks that defined the Scottsdale lifestyle.

The classic downtown Kachina "Cinerama" movie theater? Go ahead and raze it. The legendary Safari Hotel? Just knock it down.

Sometimes it's surprising that the feverish development of the 1980s and 1990s - and some crazy downtown redevelopment ideas such as the Galleria mall - left anything standing from the old days. Scottsdale formally incorporated as a city in 1951.

The other reason for Scottsdale's ambivalence toward history is that so many new people are moving in who just don't care about Scottsdale's past. Over the past year or so, Scottsdale has started to understand the value of historic preservation.

The restored 1950s-era Hotel Valley Ho, which reopened last month to public acclaim, is a great success story. The city also has taken steps to give a historic designation to two 1950s neighborhoods: Town and Country Scottsdale and Village Grove 1-6. The City Council last year also recognized the historic downtown businesses the Pink Pony steakhouse and the Sugar Bowl ice cream parlor.

Up next for city historic recognition is Taliesin West, the longtime winter compound that architect Frank Lloyd Wright built. The Scottsdale Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled to host a public hearing on the historic zoning idea Jan. 12.

Taliesin West, near Cactus Road and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, is a reliable tourist attraction for Scottsdale and is steeped in tradition. It has long been a national historic landmark, but it is great that Scottsdale is finally getting around to granting it local historic status, too. As we said, Scottsdale has long had a problem recognizing the history in its own back yard.

Taliesin West definitely is worth preserving. The first step to protecting important buildings is formally acknowledging their significance. Communities can't take landmarks for granted. Witness the heartache and frustration many people have experienced over last year's demolition of the Madison Square Garden arena and the pending debauchery of the Sun Mercantile Building in downtown Phoenix.

While it is easy to criticize Scottsdale's past failures in historic preservation, the city's attitude has improved dramatically and its record is on the upswing. Scottsdale shouldn't hesitate to support Taliesin West and other key properties. After all, history can be here today and gone tomorrow. [Photo source of Hotel Valley Ho rendering: Scottsdale Visitors & Convention Bureau.]

Tempe home not a Pyle of junk after all

[Source: Dan Durrenberger, Arizona Republic] -- My Dec. 23 column ("Pyle's rundown home should be bulldozed") began innocently enough. "What's made of sticks and stucco and looks like a dump? Tempe's 'Governor Howard Pyle' house. "Located at 1120 South Ash Ave. near downtown Tempe, the ranch-style home, built in 1940, sits amid dead weeds, its broken windows covered with cheap plywood. It's a junk pile of a building. Pyle owned the property in 1948, some 57 years ago."

As you might imagine, the column was not well received by local historical preservationists. Among them is a fellow named Bob Gasser. He's the chairman of the Tempe Historic Preservation Commission. One sentence in the column, in particular, caught his attention. It read, "Other than its oh-so-brief and tenuous tie to Gov. Pyle, the home is of no historical significance." Understandably, those words didn't sit well.

Gasser begins his missive by stating, "Once again, your thought-provoking articles in The Arizona Republic raised interest within the historic preservation community. Let me start by saying that I have always appreciated people taking the devil's advocate position; I tend to play that role myself. We need to hear the opinions of others that differ from our own in order to gain a better understanding of issues and maintain a balanced perspective. Your article regarding Gov. Pyle's house provided a great deal of information about the significance of the individual. I learned much about the man from your article and have a greater appreciation of his role in Arizona's history."

Get ready, folks. Here comes the velvet hammer. Gasser writes on: "I asked John Akers, curator of history at the Tempe Historical Museum, if he could provide some information about Gov. Pyle's connection to this house -- if the association with that individual was indeed brief and tenuous, you may have made a good point."

[Note: To read the full article,
click here. Photo source: City of Tempe.]