Thursday, June 08, 2006

Scottsdale moves to save "gardens"

[Source: Carol Sowers, Arizona Republic] -- Riding the country's wave of post-World War II nostalgia, Scottsdale leads the Valley in preserving homes from that era. Now it may become the first to add disappearing "garden apartments" to its cache of midcentury treasures. Valley preservation experts say they know of no other cities discussing historical designations for the garden-style apartments that flourished nationwide between 1946 and 1965. The graceful complexes are known by their decorative metal fences and dramatic rock walls marking the entry ways. Saving the garden apartments will be discussed by the city's Historic Preservation Commission today and will help keep Scottsdale ahead of the curve in preserving midcentury architecture.

Scottsdale is the Valley's first city to give historic designation to two post-World War II neighborhoods, which were typical of mass-produced homes built around the country for returning GIs. "When you preserve property, you look for the ones that reflect your history," said Debbie Abele, Scottsdale's preservation officer. The 1950s were Scottsdale's "boom period, when we rose to national progress," she said. It is the era when Motorola came to town and GIs returned from the war, she said. Now that many of these Scottsdale neighborhoods have turned 50, they have reached the magic number to qualify them for historic status. Scottsdale's aggressive efforts to hang on to its significant buildings "make it a local leader" in the Valley, said Kathryn Leonard, National Historic Register coordinator for the State Historic Preservation Office, which keeps an eye on cities' preservation efforts.

Mesa and Phoenix have post-World War II neighborhoods on their historical registries, but they were not mass-produced, making them less typical of the era, said Liz Wilson, a Phoenix preservation planner, who has worked in Mesa and Scottsdale. Wilson says Phoenix is interested in garden apartments but has not surveyed the city to decide if any can be preserved. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]