Thursday, September 21, 2006

A walk down memory avenue in Tempe

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

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

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

Northern Pima Co. chamber needs more room to sell tourism

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

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

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

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Rustic red roof for Santa Cruz Historic Museum is temporary

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

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

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

Friday, September 15, 2006

"Historic" label dividing Tempe neighbors

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

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

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

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Heritage Square restaurateurs juggle two careers

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

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Indians say Arizona ski resort desecrates mountains

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

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

Saturday, September 09, 2006

$5,000 raised to help preserve Fry Cemetery

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Coolidge tries to revive dormant downtown

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

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

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

Arizona receives $515,549 in Scenic Byways grants

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

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Status of Casa Grande historic buildings worries city, state officials

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

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

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

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

Volunteer advisers sought by parks group

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

Oro Valley archeological site open for tours through September 8

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

Monday, September 04, 2006

Inaugural tour of downtown Phoenix religious buildings set for October 21

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

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

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

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

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

On September 11 Phoenix seeks public input on downtown Taylor streetscape

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

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Proposal revives old Tucson street names

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

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

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

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Historic Tombstone lacks means to shore up image

[Source: Dan Sorenson, Arizona Daily Star] -- Tombstone's historic credibility is either gut shot or better than ever, depending on which of the town's many historians you're asking. Meanwhile, City Hall is crumbling and full of bees, bats and mold, and the mayor says he's willing to name it after Wal-Mart, Costco, Bill Gates or anyone who would give him the money to fix it up. The credibility problem — the National Park Service declared Tombstone's National Historic Landmark status "threatened" nearly three years ago — concerns Mayor Andree DeJournett, although it doesn't have the immediacy of the crumbling walls, bees, bats and mold. He says the town has a grant writer who is working on finding money for the tough town's crumbling past and present. "This place needs millions of dollars," he says. "We need money for all the buildings here. We probably got $250,000 to $300,000 (in grants) this year."

But while the City Council needs a safe place to meet — free of 1880s-era crumbling walls and modern bees, bats and mold — and the police and fire departments need new radios, the mayor also knows the importance of the city's historical status. "Tourism," DeJournett says, "that's all we have here." And tourism's economic clout is easily quantified, in some cases. DeJournett says visitor donations alone at the city-run Boot Hill Graveyard (& Gift Shop) topped $115,000 for the most recent year. Every year, he says, roughly 600,000 people visit Tombstone. Meanwhile, there's a ballot question in the November election that asks voters if they want the city to continue operating the famous boneyard or turn it back over to a contractor — the way it was for many years.

DeJournett says he's for keeping it under city control. He figures there's no way the town will make as much money off the property by leasing it out as by running it. He also supports a proposed ordinance that would declare Boot Hill a historic district, making it hard for anyone — including a possible future Boot Hill concession operator — to do anything to damage the graveyard's historic credibility. Things are bad enough already, says Bill Pakinkis, a retired Marine and amateur history buff who sits on the council's historic districts commission. He's a major force behind the historic district proposal. "People feel cheated when they come in here," Pakinkis says. "It looks like everyone was buried the same day," Pakinkis says, referring to the nearly identical beige-painted metal grave markers. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

September 20 groundbreaking set for state archives

[Source: Vince Murray, Friends of Arizona Archives] -- Supporters of Arizona's history (in general) and a new state archives (in particular) are urged to mark their calendars for a long-awaited special day. The groundbreaking ceremony for the Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building will be on Wednesday, September 20, 2006.

The location of the building site is on the west side of 19th Avenue between Jackson and Madison streets. The ceremony will be at Noon at the site. At 12:45 p.m., there wll be a Supporters Sculpture unveiling in the 1938 Addition of the State Capitol. Then at 1 p.m., FAzA will host a Reception and Celebration in the Capitol Museum Parlor.