Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Unusual plan would send Phoenix's San Carlos Hotel to "next level"

[Source: Stephanie Paterik, Arizona Republic] -- Imagine a high-rise hotel complete with a virtual-reality water park, shark aquarium, sports bar, and spa built atop a historic downtown Phoenix hotel. The owners of Hotel San Carlos on Central Avenue and Monroe Street don't think the idea is so far-fetched. The Melikian family of Phoenix, who bought the 78-year-old hotel in the 1970s, wants to sell a majority interest to a developer who will "take it to the next level." For seven months, the family has quietly contacted city officials to gather support for the proposed $120 million redevelopment project.

The Melikians must decide what to do with the hotel, which is lauded for its historic value yet faces mounting competition from modern downtown hotels. The family is entertaining an unconventional idea and faces challenges such as picking the right developer, wooing investors, and convincing the city that a significant add-on won't damage the hotel's historic status. Bob Membery, owner of Membery Development Corp. near Flagstaff, has taken the lead in designing the San Carlos' next incarnation. He is trolling for investors to help purchase the property and finance the development. He said there is a lot of interest but no commitments.

Membery's sketches call for a building that would wrap around and sit on top of the San Carlos like a Lego piece. Membery would add 29 stories to the hotel for a total of 36 floors and 400 rooms. The new portion could be a modern, glassy structure or mimic the Italian Renaissance style of the original. All rooms would be sold as condo units, and owners could stay for one to three months and turn their units over to the hotel for the rest of the year. Outrageous amenities would set the San Carlos Resort & Water Park apart from other hotels planned downtown. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Scottsdale historic homes eligible for grants

[Source: Lesley Wright, Arizona Republic] -- Scottsdale officials are encouraging homeowners in the city's first two historic districts to apply for grants to restore their houses. Homeowners in the Town and Country and Village Grove (1-6) neighborhoods have until Thursday to apply for grants worth up to $10,000 to rehabilitate the exterior of their homes. "This is part of the city where people are doing home improvements," said Preservation Planner Don Meserve. "We want to support people making improvements that are appropriate for this historic district."

The Historic Residential Exterior Rehabilitation Program is part of the city's broader efforts to improve neighborhoods south of Chaparral Road. The $200,000 budgeted for the program comes out of a $2 million fund for revitalization efforts. The first two neighborhoods won designation as historic districts last June and the rehabilitation program was started within six months. "Some people don't even know they are designated as historic yet," said Debbie Abele, the city's historic preservation director.

Abele said that a similar program in Phoenix inspired homeowners to spend $3 of their own money for every $1 they received from grants. The program is "rigorous," Meserve said, with higher standards than those required for a regular building permit. The tradeoff is that homeowners get more money - a match of up to half the project's cost - to make sure the work is done to the highest historic standards. Since the Arizona Constitution prohibits the "gift" of public funds for private purposes, the program requires the homeowner to sell the city an "easement" for the life of the project.

[For information on the grant program, click here. Photo of Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross at February's Town & Country Historic District sign dedication, courtesy of Jennifer Hibbard and Christine Kinchen].

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Scottsdale chapel's restoration takes big step

[Source: Kate Nolan, Arizona Republic] -- The Old Adobe Mission in downtown Scottsdale is closed for the summer until October, marking crucial steps in its $450,000 restoration. The tiny chapel at First Street and Brown Avenue was the first Catholic Church in Scottsdale, built out of 6,000 adobe bricks in 1933 by its original parishioners, the local Mexican and Yaqui communities. Designed by architect Robert Evans to resemble the Mission San Xavier del Bac near Tucson, it later housed the Scottsdale Symphony.

The city in 2001 recognized the mission's key role in the community by placing it on the Scottsdale Historic Register, spring-boarding efforts by members of its parish church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, to restore it. Since then, the mission's restoration committee has stabilized the bell tower, replaced 700 adobe bricks and unearthed the mission's original stained-glass windows, created by early Scottsdale artisan Bernabe Herrara. The windows had been missing for 23 years but were returned after a Phoenix glass craftsman who had been storing them read a newspaper story about the restoration.

The summer hiatus began in an atmosphere of optimism, spurred by two significant discoveries. The church's long-missing pews were found tucked away at a Phoenix church.And the chapel itself was discovered by a new generation of couples choosing to marry there. Two weddings were held this spring, with more on the horizon, according to Sister Alice Ruane, a member of the restoration committee. "We've struggled for five years to take it back to its roots," Ruane said. [Note: To read the full article, click here. To learn more about the effort to restore the structure, click here.]

Swap may save Hohokam site in Pima County

[Source: Erica Meltzer, Arizona Daily Star] -- A pending land swap could save a significant archaeological site that was threatened by development when Pima County was outbid at an auction. But neighbors of the 5-acre parcel the county is likely trading away are disappointed because they were eyeing the site for a park and overflow parking for Lulu Walker Elementary School. Los Morteros, near North Silverbell Road and West Linda Vista Boulevard, at the northern end of the Tucson Mountains, was occupied by the Hohokam between A.D. 850 and 1300.

Pima County already owns the ball-court site that was the focal point of the surrounding villages, but many other villages in the Los Morteros site now lie under new housing. In addition to the Hohokam villages, the area once was a De Anza trail stop and the site of a Butterfield stage stop.

In 2004, voters approved $1 million in bonds to buy land associated with Los Morteros. But County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said that after the Board of Supervisors approved spending up to $500,000 for a 10-acre piece of the site last year, it was outbid by Tucson gastroenterologist Sam Moussa, who paid $583,000. Moussa also bought an adjoining 14.5-acre parcel for $590,000, which is also part of a 40-acre area the county is investigating. Ball-court sites "are few and far between across the state. It's very important because it had a sizable community around it," said John Madsen, associate curator of archaeology at the Arizona State Museum. "In the 1980s, there were lots of sites. At this time, it's all housing." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

"Cowboy" Bob Yuma dies; tussled/fought/wrestled to preserve Phoenix's Madison Square Garden

[Source: Tim Hicks, Arizona Wrestling Legends] -- "Cowboy" Bob Yuma (pictured on the left in the photo) passed away May 23, 2006 at the age of 54 after suffering from lung disease for many years. He and his wife Alicia resided in Arizona. Yuma (Frankie Vaughn) was trained by Tito Montez and broke into the wrestling business in 1973/74, and after his tour of the Pacific Northwest ventured to Arizona where he held many regional championships.

Phoenix historic preservation advocates came to know "Cowboy" Bob and Tito during the 2005 campaign to save the Madison Square Garden, home to professional wrestling matches from the 1950s to 1970s. They wrote letters and e-mails, and spoke before City Council and the press in support of keeping the structure. [Note: The photo of "Cowboy" Bob, Tito, and Lumberjack #1 was taken in August 2005 during a tour of Madison Square Garden before its demolition.]

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Students' film tells Phoenix synagogue's history

[Source: Rebecca I. Allen, Arizona Republic] -- Raul Bencomo has lived in central Phoenix all his 13 years and until working on a historical documentary he never knew a building on Culver St. was the Valley's first synagogue. "I thought it was an old abandoned house, until I got involved," Bencomo said. He was among 10 eighth-graders from Kenilworth Elementary School in Phoenix who spent the last three months making a documentary about the Culver St. Synagogue that has housed three denominations since 1922. They learned about the diverse cultures in their own community and hope their efforts make an impression on the world. "Three religions all prayed under the same roof," said Daniella Gallegos, 13. "Diversity is important. It's not only your culture, it's many others."

The Arizona Jewish Historical Society will unveil the film, and four cornerstone plaques commemorating the building's history, on Wednesday. The 10-minute film will air on know99 Television, available in Phoenix, Tempe and Glendale, at a yet-to-be-determined date. The historical society got a $10,000 grant from the History Channel's Save Our History program for the project. They opted to partner with Kenilworth, which opened in 1920, because of its close ties to past congregations. The synagogue, once home to Congregation Beth Israel (then Temple Beth Israel), also housed the area's first Chinese Baptist church and a Mexican Baptist church.

The historical society started a fund-raising campaign eight month ago to raise $4 million to renovate the synagogue, now called the Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center, and surrounding cottages into a museum, archive and educational center. So far it has raised $1.6 million above the $540,000 it spent to purchase the property in 2002. The society has applied for historical designations from both Phoenix and the State Historic Preservation Office. Lawrence Bell, the society's executive director, said it plans to start the renovation in 2007 and it will take two to three years to complete. "It would be very hard for somebody to watch the video and not appreciate the value of what we're doing to restore the building," Bell said.

Since 2003, Save Our History has given $250,000 a year in grants for local history projects. This year, students around the country have used the money to take unique approaches in preserving their local history, such as: replanting an 18th century orchard in Baltimore; re-creating the infamous 1865 theft of North Carolina's copy of the Bill of Rights in Raleigh; and discovering traces of segregation on a walking tour of a Miami neighborhood. "It's exciting to see how working on local history, being a researcher or videographer, makes history come alive for kids," said Mark Aronson, author and Save Our History spokesperson. "History isn't just memorizing, it's not an abstract test, but really learning who you are and where you come from."

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo of 1926 Seder celebration courtesy of Arizona Jewish Historical Society.]

Historic residential boom in Phoenix and Scottsdale

[Source: Jan D'Atri, Arizona Republic] -- Not only are we growing rapidly. We're rapidly growing old. Phoenix, it's believed, now has more residential historical districts than anywhere else in the country, according to the Phoenix Preservation Office. Can you imagine? Not bad for a state that's not particularly known for having a history of history. What's happening all of a sudden? Why the groundswell of interest in historical character? In a word: incentive.

As our homes approach the grand old age of 50, many of us are interested in maintaining the special historical qualities of our residences and neighborhoods, and it certainly doesn't hurt to have some healthy state and federal tax credits for doing so. The hallowed ground beneath our homes is rumbling a little with the excitement of residential rehabilitation going on in our state. Or maybe the ground is just settling and finding a historical resting place for future generations.

What makes a home or property historical and what is that worth? How much can you change the home or add to it without destroying the historical value? With May and Historic Preservation Month winding down, here's a list of historical home news you can use.

Financial incentives
There are quite a few financial-incentive programs available to preserve historical homes and places. They include:
  • Exterior Rehabilitation Assistance Program.
  • Demonstration Project Program.
  • Low Income Historic Housing Rehabilitation Program.
  • State and Federal Financial Incentives for restoration, maintenance and rehabilitation.
Click here or call the Phoenix Historic Preservation office, 602-261-8699.

For an overview of Scottsdale programs, click here.

The new old
When you think of Arizona's historical districts, downtown Prescott or Phoenix's Willo District come to mind.

Scottsdale, too, is coming of age. For the first time in the city's history, two neighborhoods have been designated as historical districts: Village Grove Historic District, Oak Street and 66th Place, and Town and Country, Cypress and North 73rd Place.

The next time you're driving through the neighborhoods or heading out for a weekend getaway, keep your eyes out for the changing (or unchanging) landscape of our future.

More good info
Named on the National Trust's Dozen Distinctive Destinations:
  • Bisbee (2005)
  • Prescott (2006)
Named on the National Trust's Historic Hotels of America:
  • Prescott: Hassayampa Inn
  • Scottsdale: Hermosa Inn
  • Phoenix: Hotel San Carlos; Royal Palms Resort & Spa
  • Wickenburg: Rancho de los Caballeros
Other tips
ModernPhoenix.Net: This Web site from the Modern Phoenix Neighborhood Network offers photographs, articles, documentation and do-it-yourself ideas on mid-century design, art, architecture, landscape, and the modern lifestyle.

Historical conference: Glendale will host the 4th Annual Arizona Historic Preservation Conference, 24th Annual Governor's Heritage Preservation Honor Awards, and 1st Annual Home & Heritage Fair on June 15-17 at the Glendale Civic Center. Click here for details, or call 602-789-9132.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Hanny's building to house trendy Phoenix nightclub

[Source: Mike Padgett, Phoenix Business Journal] -- The owner of trendy restaurants in Scottsdale, Wisconsin, and Manhattan plans to carve an upscale restaurant out of the vacant Hanny's building in downtown Phoenix. Karl Kopp, owner of the popular AZ88 in Scottsdale, is trading his 12,000-square-foot parcel at 424 N. Central Ave. to the city in return for the 7,000-square-foot Hanny's building at the southwest corner of Second and Adams streets. The Hanny's building has been vacant for many years, and Phoenix wants Kopp's property on Central for part of the future campus of Arizona State University. City records show an agreement, approved in late September, which settles a condemnation case started by the city to acquire property for the ASU campus. The agreement requires Kopp's company -- 424 N. Central Ave. LLC -- to rehabilitate the Hanny's building based on the city's Historic Preservation Office requirements.

Kopp, who also owns Elsa's on the Park in Milwaukee and Bar 89 in Manhattan, has been interested in opening a downtown Phoenix restaurant for years. He was traveling in Europe this week visiting restaurants for ideas and could not be reached for comment. "He goes all over the world looking for cool ideas," said Grady Gammage Jr., Kopp's attorney.

Gammage, who inspected the Hanny's building with Kopp, credited Mayor Phil Gordon with the idea of the property trade. The Hanny's building was the headquarters for a clothing company, which at one time also had outlets in several shopping malls. The building, considered prime real estate because it is in the middle of downtown, has a full basement, a two-story first floor with a mezzanine and an outdoor roof patio... [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Tucson Warehouse District building to be flattened on public safety's behalf

[Source: Andrea Kelly, Arizona Daily Star] -- A building in the city's Warehouse Historic District, once threatened by the Barraza-Aviation Parkway, will be coming down, not because of the road, but because of damage from a broken waterline. The Tucson Department of Transportation decided Thursday it will demolish the yellow warehouse at the northeast corner of East Sixth Street and North Stone Avenue because of the public-safety threat if the building, or any part of it, falls into the street, said Jim Glock, the department's director.

At one point the 52-year-old building was in the path of the final mile of the parkway, but it got a reprieve when disputes over where that final leg should go forced the city to consider realigning the route. Department spokesman Michael Graham said the Downtown Links committee is re-evaluating the road plans. He noted the road could still run through where the building sits, but it will be long gone by then. The demolition of the building, acquired by the state for parkway right of way, will cost an estimated $97,310. Restoring it would cost $250,000. The Arizona Department of Transportation owns the building but gave the city the property management easement, Graham said.

The yellow warehouse was previously used by Foree Tire Distributors. It is now used to store records for Sun Tran and hospital beds for a nonprofit organization. The southwest corner of the building, 506 N. Stone Ave., started to sink after the waterline broke under it in March, said Paul Schwam, an architect who leases the adjoining building. Its fate has been up in the air since then because of its Warehouse Historic District location. Though the warehouse itself is not historic, the building next it on East Sixth Street is considered a "contributing building," to the historic district, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, said Marty McCune, Tucson historic preservation officer.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Graphic source: Dave Castelan, Arizona Daily Star.]

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Update provided on Phoenix historic preservation bond projects

To help celebrate National Historic Preservation Month, Phoenix residents who supported the historic preservation projects funded in part by the 2006 City of Phoenix Bond Program gathered at the historic Ellis-Shackelford House on May 25 to celebrate the bond victory and hear a progress report on the projects. Offering comments were HP Bond Subcommittee Chair Mark K. Briggs, Mayor Phil Gordon and Council Member Claude Mattox (pictured above), HP Officer Barbara Stocklin, and HP Commission Chair Donna Reiner. The 45 attendees enjoyed displays and handouts of the funded projects, refreshments, and camaraderie among friends and associates.

Proposition 3 (receiving 63% voter approval) completes the rehabilitation of the three remaining 1911 Phoenix Union High School buildings (Van Buren Street between 5th and 7th Streets), slated for the new University of Arizona College of Medicine downtown Phoenix campus. Other funding in this proposition goes towards the Arizona State University downtown campus and various small high school partnerships.

Proposition 4 (receiving 63% voter approval) sets aside monies to renovate Phoenix's historic downtown U.S. Post Office (522 N. Central Avenue) for partial use by ASU, while maintaining public postal uses on the main floor. Funding is also in store for a new downtown civic space south of the post office, including dollars to convert the vacant 1926 A.E. England Motor Company (424 N. Central Avenue) into retail/pavilion space for the park. Rehab dollars for parks in older neighborhoods include funding for an historic amphitheatre at Eastlake Park (15th and Jefferson Streets), site improvements at Coronado Park (12th St. and Coronado Road), and upgrades to downtown's Heritage Square. Also receiving rehab dollars will be the 1917 Ellis-Shackelford House at 1242 N. Central Avenue, intended as a hub for local arts, culture, and historic preservation activities; the 1902 Dining Hall at Steele Indian School Park (Indian School Road and 3rd Street); and the 1941 Matthew Henson Public Housing Project units (7th Avenue south of Sherman Street), now planned to house cultural and youth activities for HOPE VI residents.

Proposition 5 (receiving 65% voter approval) will complete renovations at the 1926 Carver High School (now George Washington Carver Museum/Cultural Center), the community’s window into local African American history and culture. Bond funding will go toward two other local cultural icons, Santa Rita Center (1017 E. Hadley) where labor activist Cesar Chavez fasted for 24 days in 1972, and the 1922 Memorial Hall at Steele Indian School Park for community performance space.

All Arizonans and especially residents of the near Westside will want to be involved in the planning process, funded by Proposition 6 (receiving 66% voter approval), to carefully examine relocating and/or redeveloping the Arizona State Fairgrounds, at its current site since 1905. Proposition 6 also provides major funding to continue the city’s line-up of time-tested and proven historic preservation matching grants: the Historic Exterior Rehabilitation and affiliated Low Income Historic Housing Rehabilitation Programs, and the Demonstration Project Program. A new historic preservation initiative will also help save threatened historic buildings citywide, with downtown historic warehouses as a high priority.

Read up on what's going on preservation-wise in the rest of the West

Click here to read the May/June 2006 newsletter of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Western Office. You are welcome to share this with others who also care about what is happening in historic places and communities throughout the West. If you missed some back issues of the newsletter, (1) click here, (2) look on the right side of the page, (3) go to the drop down menu for the newsletter archive, and (4) select an issue of the newsletter according to the date it was issued.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Provide ideas for future Phoenix Museum of History exhibit on public safety

The Phoenix Museum of History is always looking to update its historical exhibits. Today, you're welcome to provide ideas for a future exhibit on public safety. Send an e-mail and answer the following question: "What is the most important issue in your community related to law and order?"

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bringing Benson's Hotel Arnold back to life

[Source: Thelma Grimes, San Pedro Valley News-Sun] -- With permission from the State Historic Preservation Organization (SHPO), the new owner of Benson's historic Hotel Arnold on 3rd Street will proceed with remodeling plans. Dr. William Deutsch of Tucson, said he is always in the market for property, and was just visiting Benson with a friend several months ago when he found the vacated land known as the Hotel Arnold, which takes up an entire block along 3rd Street right behind the Benson Visitor's Center/Train Depot.

The Hotel Arnold property contains five small houses, a large house, and the hotel. According to Liz Brenner of the Benson Historic Preservation Commission, the old-time hotel has been on the state's historic register for a long time. The hotel was originally built in Benson in 1906 after the railroad came to town. The hotel primarily housed railroad workers, traveling cowboys and tourists, Brenner said. "Each room had beautiful old furniture, beautiful gas lights and the drawers were always completely full of fresh linens," she said. The original owner was Mrs. Lee, Brenner said not recalling her first name. However, after her death, her son Matt Lee closed the building and since the 1930s it has been used as a storage facility.

Deutsch said when he saw the property he thought the main house was beautiful and was even more intrigued when he found the property was on the historic register. "I fixed up some historic land in St. Louis and I can't even begin to tell you how rewarding a project like this is once it's complete," he said. [Note: To read the full article, click here. To read a follow-up letter to the editor concerning certain facts about the building, click here.]

Monday, May 22, 2006

Design Arizona's State Quarter

Governor Janet Napolitano and the Arizona State Quarter Commission invite your ideas for the design of the Arizona State Quarter. Arizona became the nation's 48th state in 1912, and the Arizona State Quarter will be released into circulation in mid 2008, the final year of the state quarter program. Please give your creative thoughts about how to best represent Arizona on our state quarter. Internet and early submissions are encouraged. Deadline for all submissions is July 15, 2006. Click here for more information and to submit your idea.

Fire hits Naco's historic Camp Newell

[Source: Karen Weil, Sierra Vista Herald/Review] -- Four buildings comprising the junior officers’ quarters at historic Camp Newell were severely damaged by fire on Sunday afternoon. Arson is suspected, but Naco Fire Chief Jesus Morales said an investigation must be completed before determining any cause. No other buildings were damaged, and there were no injuries. Because they were adobe structures, the walls of the officers’ quarters were not destroyed. However, the wooden roofs burned completely. The fire was reported to authorities as starting at 3:38 p.m.

Jim Pionke, assistant chief of the Naco Fire Department, said the wind helped the fire leap from the building closest to the road, to the three others. “It was astounding how quickly it moved from one building to the next,” Pionke said. Inside of 30 to 60 seconds from their fire crew’s arrival, the second building was burning, he added. It took crews about an hour to bring the fire under control, Pionke said. Crews from Old Bisbee and San Jose departments also assisted. Pionke credited Bisbee with bringing a water cannon that greatly helped put out the fire.

The U.S. Border Patrol, which routinely patrols the area, assisted with traffic control, Pionke said. Morales said it is a shame that the officers’ quarters were damaged. “My grandfather has the original picture when the Army was building this,” he said, gesturing around the facility. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Phoenix historic neighborhoods should sleep better now with anti-noise legislation enacted

[Source: Steve Dreiseszun, Chair, F.Q. Story I-10 Impact Action Committee] -- After a more than three year effort, the Arizona Legislature has passed an expanded law directed toward quieting heavy, commercial trucks in the State and improving the quality of life for residents in close proximity to major rights-of-way. House Bill 2691 ("commercial vehicles; exhaust systems") requires trucks to operate with a working muffler. This law brings Arizona into compliance with federal guidelines for commercial trucks and continues the mandate that they be operated with a working muffler as delivered by the original manufacturer. In 2001, Arizona endorsed the "Multi-State Highway Transportation Agreement" (MHTA) model legislation which called for tighter muffler requirements for trucks and higher penalties for infractions. Unfortunately, it never enacted a law.

A properly working muffler is effective in reducing noise created by a truck's mechanical systems including engine, transmission, and engine compression brakes (sometimes called "Jake" brakes). It has been found that some operators run with mufflers that are poorly maintained, while others choose to remove their mufflers completely as they think that they will get better fuel mileage, more power or just like to make noise. Whatever the case, continuing such behavior is now unwise. The law calls for penalties of up to $500 for truck operators that are found in violation. This new law is meant to modify behavior and, while it will take time to educate, implement, and enforce, it should create a real reduction in noise created by trucks on highways such as Interstate 10, cutting through several Phoenix historic neighborhoods. It is hoped that residents will see improvement in the future.

Bill proponents wish to thank District 14 State Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, primary sponsor of this legislation who worked tirelessly to make sure that stakeholders moved toward a solution. Also key to the effort from the beginning were Sen. Bill Brotherton and Rep. Robert Meza, also from District 14. Others who sponsored the bill were Representatives David Lujan and Kyrsten Sinema from District 15, Steve Gallardo from District 13, and Tom Prezelski from District 29.

Glendale Hosts “Changing Places,” Fourth Annual Arizona Historic Preservation Conference, June 15-17

The fourth annual Arizona Statewide Historic Preservation Conference will be held at the Glendale Civic Center, 5750 West Glenn Dr., June 15-17, 2006. The conference brings together experts and practitioners in the diverse specialties that contribute to preservation – architecture and cultural landscapes, archaeology, downtown revitalization, historic sites and heritage tourism, heritage education, neighborhood revitalization and housing, smart growth and regional planning, organizational management, public policy, and real estate development.

“This year marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Antiquities Act, the 100th anniversary of Montezuma Castle National Monument, and the 40th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. Preservation advocates have much to celebrate at this year’s conference, but much more work must be done to protect Arizona’s heritage in this time of frenzied growth,” said Jim McPherson, board president of the Arizona Preservation Foundation.

This year’s six tracks and 36 sessions play off the conference’s theme of “Changing Places:” Urban Places, Small Town & Rural Places, Ancient Places (archaeology), Native American Places, Parks & Heritage Places, and Protecting Places. Tours of Manistee Ranch, Sahuaro Ranch, Historic Downtown Glendale, and Catlin Court Historic District are scheduled. Nationally-recognized guest speakers are: Charles Bowden, author of 11 books, contributing editor of Esquire, and writer for other magazines such as Harper's and The New York Times Book Review; Brian Fagan, noted teacher, writer, and lecturer about American and general archaeology; Anthea Hartig, Director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Western Office in San Francisco; Heather MacIntosh, President of Preservation Action in Washington, D.C.; and Ann Pritzlaff, Presidential appointee to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C.

The 24th Annual Governor’s Heritage Preservation Honor Awards luncheon and ceremony will be held on Friday, June 16. These awards recognize people, organizations, and projects that represent outstanding achievements in preserving Arizona's prehistoric and historic resources. The ten award winners are introduced and the Grand Award winner will be publicly announced at the June 16 luncheon.

New this year is the Home & Heritage Fair on Saturday, June 17. Organized similar to other home and garden shows, this one-day event is geared specifically to historic property owners and neighborhood advocates. Along with home improvement vendors, workshops, and demonstrations booths, guest speakers will offer advice on: How to Research Your Historic Home and Neighborhood; Researching Historic Neighborhoods: A Case Study; Rehabilitation for Beginners; Remodeling Your Historic Home: A Case Study; How to Buy and Sell Historic Homes; Who’s Who in Preservation; Advocating for Preservation; and Taking Your Board from Good to Great.

Conference organizers include: Arizona Archaeological Council, Arizona Department of Commerce, Arizona Historical Society, Arizona Preservation Foundation, Arizona State Museum, Arizona State Parks, City of Glendale, Glendale Historical Society, Glendale Visitors Center, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, National Park Service, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Action, and University of Arizona College of Architecture. Previous conferences have been held in Chandler, Tempe, and Tucson. In 2007, the conference will be held in Prescott. Click here for more information and to register for one or all of the conference activities.

Exhibit looks at Phoenix's light-rail history

[Source: Arizona Republic] -- The City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office will host a poster exhibit starting May 22 titled "History on the Metro," in honor of National Historic Preservation Month. The exhibit provides a sneak peak of seven light-rail posters showcasing historic neighborhoods and sites around Phoenix Metro stations. They include a station along the first streetcar line, settlements of culturally diverse residents, and locations near schools, churches, and parks.

The posters will be installed as permanent panels at the featured locations when Metro Rail opens in late 2008. The exhibit will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Phoenix City Hall atrium, 200 W. Washington St. For more information, call 602-261-8699 or click here.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Report: Monuments' archaeology sites at risk

[Source: Michael Clancy, Arizona Republic] -- The Bureau of Land Management is failing to protect archaeological sites on land it manages throughout the West, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Chronic funding and staff shortages imperil thousands of sites where early Americans once lived, says a trust report called "Cultural Resources on the Bureau of Land Management Public Lands: An assessment and needs analysis."

The report was released this week, and trust President Richard Moe singled out three Arizona monuments for special attention in a speech in Denver. Grand Canyon-Parashant, Vermilion Cliffs, and Agua Fria national monuments are at risk, Moe said. "Looting and vandalism are major problems" at Agua Fria, Moe said, "but even more alarming is the huge rise in off-road vehicle use, which increased tenfold in...those same four years. These large and very mobile vehicles scar the landscape, kill plants and wreck archaeological sites, many of which haven't been adequately studied, since the monument doesn't have a full-time archaeologist on staff."

Michael Taylor, BLM deputy state director of resources, said the allegations are not true. He said Agua Fria has had a full-time archaeologist, Connie Stone, since the monument was established in January 2000. He also denied that off-road vehicle use has been a problem because those vehicles are restricted to specified routes in the monument, he said.

Diana Hawks, in charge of planning for the land-management bureau in the Arizona Strip, also said Moe got some of the specifics wrong in his speech. No additional roads would be added in Grand Canyon-Parashant or Vermilion Cliffs, she said. Instead, roads would be removed. But she and Taylor agreed that the bureau is being forced to do more with less money and that surveying vast swaths of land has been difficult. "We might not have overwhelming budgets, but that is a fact of the times," Taylor said. "All land-management agencies have a challenge with the responsible use of public land in areas of burgeoning growth."

[Note: To read the Republic's sidebar article on this topic, click here. To read Moe's speech in its entirety, click here.]

In Tucson, is this a historic home?

[Source: B. Poole, Tucson Citizen] -- Some surprisingly young Tucson neighborhoods are on a path that could lead to historic status -- and to homeowners there getting half off their property taxes. With many of Tucson's oldest neighborhoods already on the National Register of Historic Places, the city is sifting through more than 900 neighborhoods built from 1945 to 1975 -- many of them row after row of ranch houses -- to come up with a short list of prospective additions. Historic district designation allows homeowners to get a 50 percent property tax break if they agree to maintain the historic appearance of their homes and get approval for some repairs or renovations. By examining areas built as recently as 30 years ago, the city hopes to get a head start on picking neighborhoods that might eventually become historic districts. From World War II through 1975, Tucson was "booming," said J.T. Fey of the city's Urban Planning and Design Department, which oversees historic preservation. "About 65,000 units were built during that period."

The $57,000 study, which started four months ago and is expected to be completed by December, is aimed at preserving architecture that might otherwise be razed to make way for new construction, said Deborah Edge Abele, president of Akros, the Tempe consulting firm that has narrowed the Tucson field to about 400 subdivisions with 60,000 homes. "These are the teardowns for the McMansions. They're disappearing. If we can get people to think of these as historic properties, we can head off some of that," Abele said.

However bland they might seem, the tract homes of the last half of the 20th century are significant, Abele said. With the baby boom in full swing, construction changed after World War II. Families wanted homes they could expand, so carports were designed to be easily enclosed. Wide streets accommodated the car-conscious adults, and neighborhood parks offered convenient play space for the boomer babies, she said. Tucson builders brought local flair to ranch homes by using burnt adobe instead of standard brick or adding bits of tile roof above porches, Abele said. Not every neighborhood being considered had those features, and many that do have likely been altered, said Marty McCune, the city's historic preservation officer. "Not all of the neighborhoods will qualify," she said.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Gary Gaynor, Tucson Citizen.]

Arrowsmith aids restoration effort of Tempe's Eisendrath House

[Source: Katie Nelson, Arizona Republic] -- A Valley philanthropist has more than tripled a fund to save a historic Tempe house. Edie Arrowsmith's donation of $150,000 to restore the Eisendrath house in north Tempe brings the total raised to about $215,000. The Tempe Historic Preservation Foundation still has a long way to go, though. Reviving and rebuilding the 1930 two-story adobe house could cost up to $2 million. But the sizable bit of generosity from Arrowsmith will help make saving the house a reality, supporters say.

Arrowsmith has been involved in the preservation of six historic homes. One of the properties she took on is a rock lodge home just outside downtown Flagstaff run by the Museum of Northern Arizona. "It surely wouldn't have been possible without her," said David Wilcox, the museum's senior curator of anthropology. A biologist and an artist, who were the museum's founders, originally built the 6,000 square-foot home in 1929 with the help of Hopi craftsmen. And after years of being in disrepair, it now is the site of weddings, receptions, and conferences. It was featured in American Bungalow magazine.

Tempe preservationists hope the Eisendrath house can be revived in the same fashion. A team of architects and builders is working with Arrowsmith to examine what it will take to make the project happen. The renovation could take up to two or three years, said Bob Hardison Hardison Downey Construction, a general contracting company from Phoenix, has a team of employees volunteering to work on the project. A plan could be ready as soon as the end of the year, he said.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. For more information about efforts to preserve the Eisendrath House, contact Joe Nucci at 480-350-8870. Photo source: City of Tempe.]

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Basque handball court part of Flagstaff's fading history

[Source: Betsey Bruner, Arizona Daily Sun] -- A rusted chain-link gate with a combination lock and a red "No Trespassing" sign keep the curious away from one of Flagstaff's most unique cultural artifacts -- a pelota, or handball court, on the east side of South San Francisco Street. Bits of tar paper, egg cartons and yellow dandelions move in the breeze that gently whispers over the vacant lot behind the gate. Many windows are smashed in the adjacent building, Tourist Home, the Basque boarding house built in about 1926, just before the construction of the ball court. No longer heard are the voices of robust Basque men playing pelota, a palm-ball game with origins in ancient Rome. There are no more "thud" sounds as they smash hard-rubber balls into the Moenkopi sandstone walls of the court, called Pilotaleku in the Basque language. They were the Basque workers who immigrated to America in the 1800s, bringing their sport with them. They came from the Basque region of Europe along the western Pyrenees that spans the border between Spain and France. Tourist Home is Flagstaff's best example of a Basque boarding house. Located near the train tracks, the boarding houses provided a place for sheepherders to stay as they moved their flocks from winter to summer locations.

In the Basque region, the pelota court is still at the center of the social life of each town and city. In the New World, the court was always built near the boarding house or hotel. The courts attracted additional customers for proprietors at the hotel and provided Basque herders with a cultural focus and recreation. Mostly single men, the workers could hook up with jobs at the boarding house, learn the new language and enjoy recreation such as handball. Eventually, they might meet their future wives. Basque settlers and their families joined small ethnic enclaves that developed in the Southside area of Flagstaff. In the meantime, the men played handball. The game could be played with two players or with teams.

The handball games in Flagstaff were usually played with the naked hand or a gloved hand. The handballs were extremely hard and handmade from goatskin, and players could break their hands if not careful. In America, the athletes eventually used dime-store rubber balls. The professional version of this Basque national sport can also be played with a cesta, or wicker racket, similar to the game of jai alai played in fronton palaces in Spain, Mexico, Central and South America. Bigger and stronger courts are needed for these professional versions of handball where balls can travel up to 150 miles per hour.

The South San Francisco ball court has made it to the list of Arizona's Most Endangered Historic Places for the second year in a row. Under the auspices of the Arizona Preservation Foundation, the list identifies properties of major historical significance to the state that are in grave danger of collapse, demolition or destruction. "It's a reminder of a piece of Flagstaff history," said Jim McPherson, board president of the Arizona Preservation Foundation. "If it falls or goes, it's gone. Pictures just don't do it justice." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

New brochure guides history buffs through Scottsdale's past

[Source: Arizona Republic] -- To appreciate Scottsdale's evolution from a small farming community to a popular arts colony and tourist destination, just head downtown. Both self-guided and guided tours are available of the city's historic buildings, concentrated in an area bounded by Indian School and Scottsdale roads, Second Street, and Drinkwater Boulevard. The Scottsdale Historical Society and the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau have just published an informational brochure to take along on self-guided walking tours of 15 sites, beginning at the Little Red Schoolhouse on Scottsdale Mall and ending at the Scottsdale Public Library's Civic Center branch.

Here are some key details about some of downtown Scottsdale's more famous old architecture:
  • Cavalliere's Blacksmith Shop (pictured above): Built on the edge of town, the original building was tin. It was replaced by an adobe structure in 1920.
  • Farmer's State Bank of Scottsdale (now the Rusty Spur Saloon): Scottsdale's first bank opened in 1921. It closed during the Depression and never reopened as a bank.
  • First U.S. post office building (now Porter's Western Store): It was built in 1929. There was no home delivery at the time, so residents had to go to the post office.
  • Johnny Rose's Pool Hall (now Mexican Imports): The building was constructed in 1923 of white glazed brick to set it apart. It was built for billiards and the showing of silent movies.
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help Old Adobe Mission Church: Built in 1933, the mission architecturally resembles the Mission of San Xavier del Bac near Tucson. The adobe blocks used, handmade on site, were composed primarily of native soil, straw, and horse dung.
  • Scottsdale Grammar School (Little Red Schoolhouse): Constructed in 1909, the red brick structure was built at a cost of $4,500 as the first permanent school in Scottsdale.
To obtain copies of the self-guided walking tour brochure, visit the convention and visitors bureau at 4343 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 170, 480-421-1004; or the historical society inside the Little Red Schoolhouse, 7333 Scottsdale Mall, 480-945-4499.

Pinal County officials receive local preservation award

[Source: Florence Reminder] -- On May 10, Bonnie Bariola, Jennifer Evans, and Katie Christ, members of the Florence National Historic Preservation Month planning committee, presented plaques to the Pinal County Board of Supervisors and County Grants Coordinator Ernie Feliz for the rehabilitation work that has been done to the 2nd Pinal County Courthouse. The supervisors -- Lionel Ruiz, chair, David Snider, and Sandie Smith -- and others present were told, "The citizens of Florence joined thousands of individuals around the country as part of a nationwide celebration in observance of National Historic Preservation Month - May 2006. Preservation Month 2006 calls on us to get involved and tackle the new and ongoing challenges we face, and to redouble our efforts to ensure that our movement accurately reflects the vision, energy, and diversity of America."

Local citizens of Florence interested in Preservation formed a committee and made plans for an event choosing as their theme "Promoting Pride in Preservation -- Recognizing Heritage Fund Projects." Local citizens feel the preservation event was so successful, the committee has been encouraged to make it an annual affair. At the event held on May 4, each of the approximately 75 people present received a pinata bag in observance of Cinco de Mayo. Pinata bags were also presented to the supervisors.

Bariola also thanked the supervisors for the recently printed brochure on historic preservation by the Pinal County Library District, provided by a grant from the Arizona State Library System. Included in this brochure is a letter from the supervisors explaining their support for historic preservation. "We hope this brochure will help provide a new outlook for visitors and residents. Pinal County is proud of its libraries and museums, and we know that preservation of our history and culture is vital to our future. Whether you are interested in ancient ruins, art, local history, or desert flora, our libraries and museums are here to answer your questions.

"These institutions of culture, education, and information are fully committed to growing and improving to meet the changing needs of our county as it moves through the 21st Century." This informative and beautiful colored brochure provides details of all the libraries and museums located in Pinal County.

Property-tax failure leaves Mesa's museums in a bind

[Source: Srianthi Perera, Arizona Republic] -- As much as department stores lure shoppers by changing their selections each week, museums perk people's interest by changing exhibits. When Mesa Southwest Museum begins its new fiscal year July 1, the cultural institution will be less vibrant than in the past: There will be few, if any, changes in the three galleries, fewer staff members and fewer hours in which to enjoy them. After Mesa residents voted for the half-cent sales tax increase but declined a property tax in Tuesday's election, the museum expects its annual funding of $2.3 million to be halved. "Obviously it's a terrible blow to the museum and the staff," Director Tom Wilson said. "The city has been building the museum for 30 years and overnight tore it apart."

Wilson said even if funding is restored, the museum won't be the same for years. "You lose so much of what you've built up. It's a very significant blow to the institution and to Mesa," he said. Starting July 1, the city-owned museum will function with 11 fewer staffers than a year ago. During the last six months, a curator of history, lead collections specialist, volunteer coordinator, museum educator and a marketing person left on their own. A hiring freeze kept the positions unfilled. On Wednesday, Wilson had the unenviable task of telling two exhibition staffers, two collections management staffers, a development officer and the curator of Sirrine House (pictured above) that they would be let go.

The outlook is similar at Arizona Museum for Youth, which expects its annual funding of $1.3 million to reduce by half. "It's going to be quite a cut in staff for us to operate," said Sunnee Spencer, executive director, who has identified positions that will be axed. They include museum outreach specialist, youth and family specialist, gallery associate and museum exhibitions technician. Her staff of 14 full-timers and 19 part-timers would be whittled to 6 full-timers and about 20 part-timers.

At the private, non-profit Mesa Historical Museum, news that the city has axed the cultural-aid grant that supplied $75,000 last year, about 35 percent of its annual budget, is disheartening, executive director Lisa Anderson said. "I'm not expecting any funding. This would probably be the last year," she said.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Oro Valley Historical Society dedicated to preserving town's historic sites

[Source: Greg Holt, Northwest Explorer] -- Everyday in Oro Valley, a bulldozer is tearing across the desert landscape to make room for a strip mall, housing development, office complex, or golf course. As this suburban community makes room for more people, the town moves further away from its dusty and remote past. Driving down Oracle Road, past the enormous Albertson's and the gigantic Home Depot, you might not notice the humble Steam Pump Ranch (pictured above) marking the town's birthplace if it weren't for the sprawling shopping plaza under construction next door. Similarly, the meticulous landscaping of Rancho Vistoso Boulevard might distract you from the neighboring Honeybee Village site where Hohokam Indians lived hundreds of years ago, although it is sure to become more noticeable once the site is surrounded by high-rise condominiums.

Oro Valley is stepping into its future deftly and without remorse. As one of the most desirable places to live in Arizona, this reality is so inevitable that it can only be encouraged. Yet like a child that grows up much too quickly, some residents of Oro Valley worry that the town's past will soon be forgotten. For others, as Oro Valley quickly homogenizes into every-town USA, there is a desire to emphasize and celebrate all that is unique about Oro Valley's history. Whatever the reason, in the past year, historic preservation in Oro Valley has evolved from the hobby of a few individuals to something nearing a political movement. The Oro Valley Historical Society, a non-profit organization devoted to researching, preserving, an disseminating history about the Oro Valley-area, was founded last July and already boasts more than 90 members, according to OVHS president and Town Historian Jim Kriegh.

Indicative of its growing influence, about 80 Oro Valley residents, business and government leaders attended a society fund-raising dinner on May 6 at the White Stallion Ranch in Marana. Kriegh said the society raised $1,900, adding to a treasury of about $9,000. Oro Valley resident Lyra Done attended because she believes the town must act now to preserve its history. "The further away from history we get, the harder it is to go back and put history back together," Done said.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Peg Price.]

Phoenix holds Encanto Manor Historic District dedication

[Source: City of Phoenix and Arizona Republic] -- The City of Phoenix has designated the Encanto Manor Neighborhood as historic and unveiled the historic district sign at a dedication ceremony on May 16. The celebration was held at 11th and Edgemont avenues to a crowd of about 75. Mayor Phil Gordon (on ladder in above photo) and Lead Preservation Planner Kevin Weight spoke.

The Encanto Manor Historic District is generally bounded by Thomas Road, Windsor Avenue, Seventh Avenue and 15th Avenue. Platted in 1945, Encanto Manor was one of the first post-World War II Phoenix subdivisions. However, its size, location, and building characteristics place it more with upscale prewar neighborhoods like Encanto-Palmcroft and Willo than with the large tract developments that followed the war. Most of the homes are ranch style, but there is a lot of variation in plan, materials, and ornamentation. No two homes are alike. The 83 houses were constructed by 52 builders and designed by nine architects. [Photo source: Jim Steely]

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Payson's Pieper Mansion purchased, plans uncertain

[Source: Teresa McQuerrey, Payson Roundup] -- In recent years the property has sat empty. A few who knew the history of the "Pieper Mansion," located at the corner of West Main Street and McLane Road, kept an eye on the place from afar. August and Wilhelmina Pieper started building the house that now stands at 505 W. Main St. in 1893. The property was overgrown and in disrepair. Only those on foot would notice the plaque that showed its importance as the site of the oldest standing structure in Payson -- a poured mud house. But the quiet was disrupted recently by the sound of chain saws and those interested in local history and Main Street have taken notice. It started when the towering dead trees behind the Pieper Mansion came down. As the trees fell, people speculated about the future of the surrounding buildings.

The property -- several acres of land and buildings from the 1890s and 1950s -- was purchased a few weeks ago by Greg Turturro of Phoenix, who has several holdings in the Payson area. His first step was to order the tree cut down. "The new owner was doing his due diligence," said Gary Cordell of Realty Executives, who participated in the sale. Not too long ago, one of the trees was blown down and hit a car on the road. No one was hurt. As for the house and the other buildings on the property, their future is uncertain, Turturro said.

Turturro bought the property just before the the 13th Annual Cruise-In and Charity Car Show May 6 and said he was very concerned about people being hurt if another tree fell. There were no problems, but he made the decision to take down the trees, clear out the blackberry brambles and a lot of the debris that was behind the old house. "No one took care of it for years," Turturro said.

In addition to the "Pieper Mansion," the property has what is believed to be the oldest standing structure in town, a poured mud house. Henry Sidles had the adobe house built for himself by Paul Vogel after his first home, out where Flowing Springs is now, was burned by the Apaches, according to Jinx Pyle, official town historian. August and Wilhelmina Pieper, who had both come from Germany to Globe, bought out Sidles in 1891, according to retired town historian Stan Brown. They lived in the mud house, and then in 1893 started building the house that now stands at 505 W. Main. The Piepers moved into the house when it was completed, then either rented out the adobe house or used it for storage. "One wall is completely gone," Turturro said of the adobe building, "and the main support beam is busted."

Mrs. Pieper was widowed in 1931 and not long after moved away, renting the house to the Curtis family, according to Brown. Before Mrs. Pieper died in 1954, she sold the property to Steve and Cindy Hathaway, who added the three little cabins east of the big house in the late 1950s, and rented them. Over the decades, they were abandoned and began falling apart. "Those little cabins were totally trashed," Turturro said...

In addition to taking down the dead trees, Turturro had APS take down the electric wires leading to the house. "The electricity in there was so bad, if I'd turned on a light the place probably would have burned down," Turturro said. Because of the flooding and lack of care, much of the house has decayed, he said. "The fascia has rotted, the floors are caving in," Turturro said. There is also a tremendous amount of termite damage. He said a lot of people don't know that the property has been zoned for commercial use by the town, rather than residential.

"The Daughters (of the Gila County Pioneers) would have loved to have got their hands on that place and restored it," said Jayne Peace Pyle. But for now, the old house at the corner of West Main and South McLane remains empty and desolate, with an uncertain future.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Florence Silver King Hotel bids high, may affect restoration

[Source: Mark Cowling, Casa Grande Dispatch] -- Hopes that the Silver King Hotel might be open for business again in some form by the end of the year may have hit a snag. Bids for the building's second phase of restoration have come in at more than double the available grant funds. The Florence Preservation Foundation, owner of the building, had a federal "T-21" grant of $500,000 and an Arizona Heritage Fund grant of approximately $30,000. The group had hoped to use this money to install an elevator, build restrooms and second-story balconies and do other work to get the 19th-century building ready for tenants. After spending $50,000 in architectural fees, the foundation has about $480,000 left for construction. But the three bids submitted recently ranged from just over $1 million to $1.5 million.

Bonnie Bariola, secretary of the Florence Preservation Foundation, couldn't say exactly how the group would proceed from here; it may be a combination of scaling back the project as well as trying to raise more money. "If you see anyone with an extra $1 million lying around, we'd be happy to take it off their hands." She said donations to the FPF are tax-deductible. She was scheduled to meet with Town Manager Himanshu Patel to discuss alternatives.

The town of Florence Planning Department at one time hoped to use the top floor of the building, while an interior design and home furnishings business leased the first floor. But Town Planning Director Larry Quick said it appeared the timing wouldn't work out for his department to move to the Silver King. Construction is expected to take six months and his department will need to move before then. The Planning Department is running out of space and may hire still more people after the new fiscal year budget is approved in July, Quick said. The department may move out of Town Hall into a modular portable building in the next few months. [Photo source: Metropolis Design Group]

Friday, May 12, 2006

Future of Rio Nuevo bill worries Tucson leaders

[Source: Teya Vitu and Blake Morlock, Tucson Citizen] -- The bill to extend the Rio Nuevo tax increment by 30 years has stalled in the state Senate, and Tucson leaders worry the measure could die before getting an up or down vote. The tax measure would inject an estimated $1 billion into downtown Tucson to make it the vibrant cultural center of the community. The Rio Nuevo shared-revenue legislation would extend the financing plan's life span from 2013 to 2043 adding a projected $800 million to the $156 million Tucson voters approved in 1999. Keeping the bill alive will require the whole delegation to demand it from a legislature dominated by Phoenix Republicans hesitant to spend so much money in Tucson, said Rep. Steve Huffman, R-Oro Valley. "If we're going to get this done we need the whole delegation (to say) that this is a priority to everybody in the southern Arizona delegation," Huffman said.

Such devotion could cost Tucson other things, such as the University of Arizona faculty retention money and cash to keep Tucson's only trauma center running, said state Sen. Toni Hellon. Republican leaders could force Arizona lawmakers to choose. "The sad part is when you are up here long enough and pushing legislation, everyone knows what's important to us and they go for the jugular," Hellon said.

The bill passed out of the Senate rules committee April 12. Bills usually head right to the Senate floor after that, but the Rio Nuevo bill still has not surfaced. "That's why we we're concerned," said Mary Okoye, director of intergovernmental relations at City Hall. In the past month, city leaders crafted amendments to allay Senate doubts about the legislation. Okoye and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council tried to rally local legislators, who succeeded to get the bill out of the House and the Senate commerce committee. "There's a swirl of rumors," about why the bill has stalled, said Ron Shoopman, the council's president. The group prodded the southern Arizona delegation to get the bill moving. "What we don't want to see is for it to die just sitting there."

Chandler council votes on new downtown museum

[Source Chris Markham, East Valley Tribune] -- The Chandler City Council is moving forward on a new $8.5 million museum in the city’s historic downtown district. Council members approved a site along the west side of Arizona Avenue between Boston and Chicago streets at their May 11 meeting. The city and the Chandler Historical Society, which operates the current museum at 178 E. Commonwealth Ave., spent $10,000 on a planning consultant to help determine how the new museum would operate and who would be in charge. Voters authorized the project as part of a $154 million bond package in 2004. The new facility will be three times the size of the current museum and will be designed to better house its historic artifacts. “In my opinion, it’s long overdue,” said Jan Dell, coordinator of the current Chandler Museum.

Dell is one of two paid employees running the museum for the historical society. She said Tuesday it’s still unclear whether the historical society will continue running the museum or if the city will take over. “There’s a lot of discussion, but there’s no answers yet,” she said. The museum currently displays about a third of its exhibits at any one time in its facility would include storage areas designed to protect artifacts. “Museums today need to be built specifically as a museum,” Dell said.

The new Chandler Museum will be situated where the first City Hall once stood. In 1923, with much excitement and anticipation, Chandler's first City Hall opened on the northeastern corner of Chicago Street and Arizona Avenue. It cost $8,000 to build. The small building was home to the City Council chamber, the town clerk's office, the police station and the town court. The dedication took place on May 29, starting with a luncheon hosted by the City Council and Chamber of Commerce. Speeches from Chandler Mayor George Armstrong, Chamber of Commerce President Arthur Price, Phoenix Mayor Louis Whitney, and Dr. A.J. Chandler commemorated the occasion. The building was demolished sometime between 1969 and 1971, and all that remains today is a lone palm tree.

Company buys two Prescott-area historic ranches

[Source: The Associated Press] -- A holding company led by a Scottsdale real estate investment company has purchased two historic ranches northeast of Prescott. The 16,390-acre purchase by Granite Dells Ranch Holdings LLC's equals nearly two-thirds the size of the city of Prescott's current land mass. The two ranches, Granite Dells and Point of Rocks, have been the topic of heated community debate for years, as Prescott, Prescott Valley, and Chino Valley have all eyed the area for possible future development. The bulk of the acreage lies in unincorporated Yavapai County, except for about 5,200 acres that had previously been annexed by the Town of Chino Valley.

Dig at Hayden Flour Mill will hope to turn up relics

[Source: Katie Nelson, Arizona Republic] -- The Hayden Flour Mill could become closer to becoming a usable historical site this month, after years of holdups that have blocked redevelopment of downtown Tempe's most recognizable icon. A Tempe company, Archaeological Consulting Services Ltd., will begin digging May 22 around the mill and silos to search for artifacts. Its archaeologists expect to find remnants from the years the site was actively used as a flour mill, along with traces from when the area was a settlement for the ancient Hohokam tribe. City leaders said they view the eventual development of the mill as a crucial step to linking the downtown shopping and business districts with the recreation and housing being built along Town Lake.

The city has heard a range of proposals for the site that include outdoor recreation stores, a historical museum and converting the silos into condos or a hotel. It's possible that the city-owned land could have some combination of those components. But before anything can happen to the mill, the archaeological dig hopefully will unearth a piece of land's past. The dig is the first tangible movement toward renovating the historical site in years. The land has been tangled up in a yet-to-be-settled lawsuit and a fight between the city and a local developer over who and what can be built on the property.

On Thursday, an open door into the mill's main building let its musty smell into the open air. Archaeologists will use backhoes, shovels, and trowels to probe the mill and silos property. They'll start the digging at the southeastern corner of the Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway intersection. Using old fire insurance maps as their guide, a team of eight people will search for a two-story adobe jail building. They'll keep an especially careful look out for the structure's outhouse, or whatever is left of it. It sounds strange, said Bob Stokes, who is in charge of the project's field work, but the garbage and trash tossed into the privy's hole might tell the archaeologists the most about what people ate, bought and used during that time period. "It's not only a bathroom, it's a convenient trash can," Stokes said. "We might be able to learn what the inmates were eating, the kinds of utensils they were given . . . whether they got poorer cuts of meat, vs. better cuts of meat, or if there are few bones, if they got very little meat at all."

The archaeologists will remove strips of concrete around and in between the other sides of the mill building to search for other artifacts and building remains. But while doing so, the team will take special care to keep its digging away from the buildings so the mill and silos will stay structurally sound for renovation. This "exploratory" or "testing" digging phase will last five or six weeks. This phase will determine if there is more detailed work to be done, Stokes said. The $340,000 archaeological probe is being paid for by a grant from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community from casino profits. Staff support is coming from the city, the Tempe Historical Museum, and the Tempe Historic Preservation Office.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Striving to save Vail landmark

[Source: Tim Ellis, Arizona Daily Star] -- Despite a setback last week, Chauncey and Patty Kelley say they don't intend to give up on their dream of restoring the historic adobe building next to the Vail Feed Store. But the siblings said they'd like help in their effort to restore Vail's oldest building and preserve the place that once served as the heart and soul of the community. Since it was built — sometime in the late 1890s, the Kelleys reckon — the now-crumbling structure has served as the community's railroad freight station, post office and general store and, for a while after their dad bought it in 1975, a feed store.

The building has sat unused since Art Kelley built a new feed store in 1994 next door, at 11366 S. Old Vail Road. All the while, the old building was more than a place of business: "It was the center of Old Vail," Chauncey Kelley said. That's what makes the building historic, said Roger Anyon, a cultural resources program manager with the Pima County Cultural Resources and Historic Preservation Office. "This building is well worth saving and restoring because it is the focal point of Old Vail, and because it's so close to the Shrine of Santa Rita," Anyon said, referring to the Catholic church across the road.

Kelley said that's why he and his sister want to convert the building into a place that celebrates the area's history, like a visitor center. "A place where people could stop and find out about the town or Colossal Cave or other attractions," he said. And they wouldn't mind some feedback, and some help, to make that happen. "We'd like people to look at it as a 'we' kind of thing, rather than something (that) 'they' are doing," Kelley said. He and Patty have been making steady progress in their four-year effort to restore the building. After reviewing documents that support the building's history, the county Cultural Resources and Historic Preservation Office staff will forward them to the State Historic Preservation Office. "The building and the Shrine of Santa Rita church both have been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places," Anyon said.

The state office will review the documents to determine whether to recommend listing the buildings on the National Register of Historic Places to the National Park Service, An-yon said. The county office helped the Kelleys get a $2,000 grant from the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission to help stabilize the building while those deliberations are under way, he said. [Note: To read the full article, click here. If you are interested in assisting in the preservation of this building, call 520-762-5301. Photo source: Tucson Citizen.]

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Glendale celebrates National Historic Preservation Month with proclamation, award, and tour

[Source: Glendale Daily Planet] -- The City of Glendale recently celebrated National Historic Preservation Month. On May 13, Glendale's Historic Preservation Commission held its third Annual Historic Preservation Tour, touring homes in the Catlin Court Historic District.

At the May 9 City Council meeting, Mayor Elaine Scruggs issued a proclamation honoring local efforts to preserve the city's heritage. In addition, Julia Phillips (pictured above) received the 2006 Ruth Byrne Historic Preservation Award. Phillips has been a tour guide for the Glendale Historical Society at Sahuaro Ranch Park for the past 15 years. She has informed and delighted thousands of visitors about Glendale’s heritage. During the past five years, she has been in charge of collecting, displaying, and preserving historic artifacts relating to Glendale history for the Glendale Historical Society. [Note: Click here to view the festivities at the City Council hearing.]

Growth may alter face of remote Arizona Strip

[Source: The Associated Press] -- The 3 million acres of federal land in the Arizona Strip have their remote geography to thank for preserving their spectacular red sandstone escarpments, slot canyons, rock art, and ruins of ancient pueblos. One of the last places in the lower 48 to be mapped, the Strip, in the northwestern corner of the state, is bypassed by major highways and mostly devoid of gas stations, hotels and other visitor services. As a result, more than 12,000 years of human history written on this rugged landscape have remained in place. That is about to change.

At the backdoor of the Grand Canyon, two national monuments, Grand Canyon-Parashant and Vermilion Cliffs, are poised to absorb the effects of the explosive growth from Las Vegas to the west and St. George, Utah, to the north, two of the fastest-growing areas in the nation. The Bureau of Land Management is preparing a long-range plan for the area that would allow uranium mining and oil and gas exploration across 96 percent of the lands outside the monuments. The plan would also permit livestock grazing in the monuments and open 3,000 miles of roads to motorized recreation. And although the area would be outside the monuments, some say the proposal wouldn't safeguard rare plants and animals, such as the desert tortoise and the 20 species of raptors, including a colony of reintroduced California condors at Vermilion Cliffs. "What you have in the Arizona Strip is a kind of sleepy place that has been highlighted with two monuments, but the BLM hasn't really risen to these different challenges," said Martha Hahn, a former BLM administrator with 21 years at the agency. Hahn now works with the conservation group Grand Canyon Trust.

But BLM officials say that the plan, which has taken four years and won't be finalized for months, is a commendable effort to reconcile the agency's tradition of multiple uses on public land with its newer mandate to conserve national monuments. "It's all about finding the right balance between protecting the resource and allowing the public to use the land for grazing and other activities," said Scott Florence, the BLM's district manager for the Arizona Strip. Up to now, the Arizona Strip has been administered under a 1992 management plan. Much of the land within the national monuments was intended to be set aside for scientific study, but BLM budgets often limit expensive scientific analysis. More than 97 percent of the land within the monuments has not been surveyed for archaeological or paleontological sites and, according to a scientific study last summer, 63 percent of the sites in Grand Canyon-Parashant are vulnerable to damage by off-road vehicles, as are nearly half the sites in Vermilion Cliffs monument.

[Photo: Pipe Springs with historic Mormon building in background, c. 1934. Photo NAU.PH.95.48.851 by Barbara or Edwin McKee, courtesy of Cline Library Special Collections, Northern Arizona University.]

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sasco ghost town threatened by master-planned development

[Source: Eric Berg, Save Old Sasco] -- The historic ghost town of Sasco near Picacho Peak is threatened. It was part of a large piece of land recently acquired by the Wolfswinkel Group for a large master-planned community. Sasco (which stands for Southern Arizona Smelting Company) was founded in 1907 as the smelter town for the Silverbell copper mines owned by the Imperial Copper Company. The mine and smelter were owned by The Development Company of America which also owned the Tombstone Consolidated Mines company, the Congress Mine near Wickenburg, and the Poland mines near Prescott. The DCA was run by businessmen Frank Murphy, Elipthlet Gage, and Henry M. Robinson with William F. Staunton as their head engineer. Operations at the smelter began in 1908 and continued until the DCA went bankrupt in 1911 (due partially to the flooding of the Tombstone mines). Silverbell and Sasco were purchased by the powerful American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) in 1916 to take advantage of high copper prices during WWI. The smelter was permanently closed in 1919 and the town quickly died away thereafter.

Despite its short life, Sasco has some of the most extensive remains of any Arizona ghost town. There are the roofless shells of two stone buildings including one multi-room structure that was probably a hotel and a two-room concrete jail. There are recognizable and identifiable foundations of numerous other structures including the company-ran boarding house, the superintendent’s house, and the company office (whose concrete vault is still standing). For an interesting human touch, there is a small stone water fountain that once sat in the middle of a small garden. The most extensive remains however, are of the smelting complex. The large and interesting concrete foundations of the smelter, power house, railroad platform, company store, ore bins, and sampling mill are all still in place. The smelter foundations still show the burned impressions left by the settlers where the molten ore was separated into copper and waste materials. There is also a small slag dump and a well-preserved cemetery.

Given its extensive ruins, important history, and easy access to the general public, it would make an ideal historic site for the description of Arizona's early mining history. Given its close location to the Ironwood National Monument, it seems like it would be the perfect place for a land swap where the Sasco area is added to the nearby National Monument and the developers are given an equivalent piece of land on a different edge of their section.

[Note: For more information about efforts to SOS (Save Old Sasco), contact Eric Berg. Click here for a background article in the Tucson Citizen. Photo source: Larry Copenhaver, Tucson Citizen.]

Monday, May 08, 2006

Historic buildings in redevelopment areas is topic of May 10, 2006 Phoenix breakfast

The Capitol Mall Association in Phoenix is hosting a breakfast seminar with Jodie Brown, City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office, on historic residential and commercial building in redevelopment areas. Interested historic preservation advocates and members of public are encouraged to attend. RSVP to Kay Jerin at 602-340-0745.

Longtime Scottsdale residents learn something new on tour

[Source: Diana Balazs, Arizona Republic] -- Elena Samfilippo and her father, Joe Samfilippo, were excited about going on a guided tour of Scottsdale's historic Old Town district. The two have lived in Scottsdale since 1959 but have never participated in such a tour. They have fond memories of the city back then. "When we moved out here, Cochise and I used to run around together," Joe Samfilippo joked. The 81-year-old retired sign painter said Scottsdale was a beautiful city, where cars were scarce and residents rode into town on horseback to buy groceries.

Elena Samfilippo, 51, remembers going to the Little Red Schoolhouse as a child. The school was built in 1909 and housed the city's library. It is now home to the Scottsdale Historical Society and houses the society's museum (pictured above). "The children's section was downstairs....I'd go down there and select my books, and we'd check them out," Elena said. The two decided to go on Saturday's tour because they enjoy visiting downtown Scottsdale once a week. "I thought this would be a fun activity for us to do together," Elena said.

The Scottsdale Historic Preservation Commission, the historical society, and city staff celebrated National Historic Preservation Month by conducting the guided tours. About 45 people participated. Barbara DeLand, 66, of Surprise, came with two friends. "I am just awestruck," DeLand said as she stood inside Our Lady of Perpetual Help Old Adobe Mission Church. "I mean, there's just so much that you never know and you take for granted until you learn all this, and how far back it goes, and why it became what it became," DeLand said.

George Hartz, 54, historic preservation commission vice chairman, told the tour participants that one of the commission's goals is to make sure that as the city moves forward, the links to the city's past are remembered. "One of the things about historic buildings, once they're gone, they're gone. A couple times people have said, 'Well, how can you be preserving buildings that are only 50 years old?' The obvious answer is if you don't preserve your 50-year-old buildings, you won't have any 100-year-old buildings," Hartz said.

Scottsdale native JoAnn Handley, a historical society member and one of Saturday's tour guides, said many people don't realize that Scottsdale has a past. "In order to preserve it, we have to educate people and let the people know that indeed we do have a history here," Handley said.