Wednesday, January 31, 2007

May Is Preservation Month

[Source: National Trust] -- The National Trust for Historic Preservation will commemorate the third annual National Preservation Month in May 2007. And while the theme of this year’s National Preservation Month—Making Preservation Work—is new, the idea behind preservation month remains the same; celebrating the country’s diverse and irreplaceable heritage by participating in local events throughout the nation.

Throughout May, the National Trust and its thousands of partners across the country will demonstrate the importance of our nation’s heritage as they focus on many aspects of the preservation movement including historic travel, heritage education, historic homeownership, and community revitalization. Local celebrations will highlight the unique culture and traditions of different areas of the country, and the National Trust strongly encourages people to participate in National Preservation Month events being held in their communities.

Development draws closer to Casa Grande ruins

[Source: Brian Indrelunas] -- As a boy, Raymond Deazey hunted rattlesnakes and picked up arrowheads in the desert around the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. "It was all vacant, and we used to ride our motorcycles and all that stuff through here," the Coolidge native said. Now 49, Deazey returned to his former stomping grounds recently - to visit the dentist. The dentist's office is in a growing commercial zone directly across from the entrance to the monument, site of a 700-year-old structure called the "Great House." Today, the remains of an ancient Hohokam farming village face strip malls, restaurants, a drugstore, an auto-parts store, a supermarket and a Wal-Mart Supercenter. With new residents flooding into Pinal County, Coolidge, once a small farming community, is expanding around the 474-acre monument. Subdivisions are sprouting up just south and west. One development would put 1,700 homes in the square mile directly west of the ruins. One of the monument's new neighbors is Michelle Brimley, who said her family was priced out of the Valley. She can see the ruins from her kitchen window.

"My kids, when we first came here, called it the alien house," she said. "We've taken them over there quite a few times and tried to explain to them that it's not a saucer." The Great House is covered by a steel-and-concrete canopy built in 1932 to shield it from the elements. Chief Ranger Carol West said the monument is becoming an island in a sea of development. West said she visited the monument as a child, which made driving to the park in 2003, after she was offered her current position, a shock. "I nearly died," she said. "I remembered it being way out of the way - a sleepy place." West said housing developments near the monument threaten the ruins' desert backdrop. Monument staff members hope to annex 80 acres directly west of the current boundary line that are slated for the Cross Creek Ranch master-planned community. They also hope to annex some other sites, including unused land surrounding the Wal-Mart. "It's not just the archaeological sites," she said. "The context in which the Great House is built is in danger too."
U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi, whose district includes Coolidge, introduced a resolution in March 2005 that would have authorized an expansion of the monument, but it died in committee. [Note: To read the full article, click here. ]

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

2007 Willo Historic District Home Tour

Mark your calendar! The Willo Historic District Annual Home Tour is Sunday, February 11 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. The tour will feature superb examples of Tudor, Spanish Revival, Bungalow and Ranch style homes dating from the 1920’s through the 1940’s. Tickets are $15 the day of the and can be purchased at the neighborhood's Walden Park at 3rd Avenue and Holly, or online. Willo is just west of Central Avenue between Thomas and McDowell Roads from 1st to 7th Avenues. Trolley cars will carry you to various stops on the tour, or you can enjoy the traditional tour method of walking from house to house.

A Street Fair at the event will offer handcrafted goods, unusual gift ideas, jewelry, antiques, and local artwork. Food vendors will supply a variety of munchies. Willo Home Tour promotes the neighborhood through the advertising both at local establishments and in the media. The monies raised from this event enable the community to pursue neighborhood improvements including but not limited to traffic mitigation, community wide activities, the Willo web site, as well as subsequent Willo Home Tours. Between twelve and fourteen homes open their doors to the public.

5-ton slab falls from cliff, damages ancient dwelling at Mesa Verde National Park

[Source: Shannon Livick, Cortez Journal] -- Something looked different at the popular Square Tower House at Mesa Verde National Park when research archaeologist Julie Bell took visitors by the most photographed site at the park recently. Mesa Verde National Park research archaeologist Julie Bell takes notes on the damage done by a 4.5-ton slab of rock that fell from the cliff face at Square Tower House sometime during the holidays. Bell stands in front of the slab, which is setting on top of the wall of Kiva B. There was rubble where rubble should not be. A 4.5-ton slab fell on the picturesque ruin sometime last month, smashing a storage room, rupturing the wall of a kiva and coming to rest inside a two-story room at the far end of the site. “It pierced the kiva like a knife,” Bell said. “Fortunately, it didn’t get the tower.”

The site at the park is well known because it is easy to photograph in the afternoons and visitors take a short walk to an overlook where the 1,200-year-old ruins can be viewed. The site has the tallest tower in the park, measuring 26-feet high. The four-story tower sets among 80 rooms and seven kivas. The ruin has been closed to visitors since the 1950s, so Bell and a small group recently grabbed a ladder to assess the damage close-up. “It’s amazing it didn’t do more damage,” Bell said. The rock took out a 4-foot section of a wall at the site and completely destroyed another wall that was part of an alcove. Bell said there were original beams in one of the walls. The rock also pierced the walls of one of the kivas at the site and left rubble strewn about. Fortunately, the shock waves set off when the rock hit likely didn’t damage the tower, Bell said.

Slabs shearing off the sandstone cliffs isn’t a new problem at Mesa Verde. Preston Fisher, a structural engineer at the park, spends a good amount of time monitoring the sandstone that houses the park’s famous cliff dwellings. He places devices called crack monitors in the cracks to gauge when a slab might start to shift, but the one the size of a Volkswagen bug that fell recently wasn’t one that Fisher was worried about. “We look at alcoves from the bottom every year,” Fisher said. “We try to knock off what we can before sites are open to the public.” Fisher called what happened at Square Tower House “alcove exfoliation” and said it has been happening for centuries. Park employees are also on the lookout for small flakes from the cliffs as signs of a possible fall.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo courtesy of Mesa Verde National Park.]

Sunday, January 28, 2007

This day in history

January 28, 1986 : Challenger explodes. At 11:38 a.m. EST, on January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Christa McAuliffe is on her way to becoming the first ordinary U.S. civilian to travel
into space. McAuliffe, a 37-year-old high school social studies teacher from New Hampshire, won a competition that earned her a place among the seven-member crew of the Challenger. She underwent months of shuttle training but then, beginning January 23, was forced to wait six long days as the Challenger's launch countdown was repeatedly delayed because of weather and technical problems. Finally, on January 28, the shuttle lifted off.

Seventy-three seconds later, hundreds on the ground, including Christa's family, stared in disbelief as the shuttle exploded in a forking plume of smoke and fire. Millions more watched the wrenching tragedy unfold on live television. There were no survivors.

In 1976, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) unveiled the world's first reusable manned spacecraft, the Enterprise. Five years later, space flights of the shuttle began when Columbia traveled into space on a 54-hour mission. Launched by two solid-rocket boosters and an external tank, only the aircraft-like shuttle entered into orbit around Earth. When the mission was completed, the shuttle fired engines to reduce speed and, after descending through the atmosphere, landed like a glider. Early shuttles took satellite equipment into space and carried out various scientific experiments. The Challenger disaster was the first major shuttle accident.

Historic homeowners tax credit bill introduced

On Tuesday, January 23 Representative Russ Carnahan (D-MO) (pictured) reintroduced the Preserve Historic America Act (HR610) that proposes to extend the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit to owners of historic homes. The bill includes a number of provisions that: expand the credit to residential housing, create a credit to allow for moderately rehabilitated buildings, permit credits to be transferred or assigned, raise the tax credit rate to 25 percent for certified historic structures, change the definition of a qualified rehabilitated building to buildings older than 50 years, and raise the historic preservation rate to 130% for structures located within geographic designations considered low-income.

Desert part of Peoria theater

[Source: Cecilia Chan, Arizona Republic] -- From its shiny copper rooftop to its beige concrete masonry base, Peoria's modernistic theater is a visual product of its desert environment. The 20,000-square-foot Peoria Center for the Performing Arts is expected to debut Feb. 10 with a special two-day showing of Tea for Three. The main theater seats 280 and the black box seats 80. "It was a great, fun building for us," said the projects' lead architect Ronald Reed, principal of Westlake Reed Leskowsky. "There is nothing else I have done that looks like this building." The architectural firm got its start in Arizona when it renovated the historic Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix. Peoria awarded the company a contract in 2002 from among 10 others that applied to do the job. The firm stood out from the others based on its experience with both community theaters and large-scale theaters as well as its success with historical preservation or renovation, according to city spokesman Grady Miller.

Reed incorporated ground-faced blocks that give the $12.9 million building a granitelike fa├žade, colored like the desert floor. The building's origami-shaped roof - with several jutting angles coated with copper - evokes the outlines of distant mountains. Reed said the roof also helps to diminish the height of the stagehouse, which reaches almost 50 feet tall, so it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb in the neighborhood. At night, the roof gives the illusion it is hovering above the building, thanks to lights that will shine through glass that runs around the lobby between the roof and masonry.

"In a project like this, whether the city is looking for it to be a catalyst for economic development or creation of a more cohesive downtown area, it is to do something that is really unique that speaks about the client and the location which this is sitting and becomes sort of a magnet in its own right and make a statement," Reed said. "But at the same time you shoot for being a good neighbor. We very much wanted it to be a building where the coloration and material were appropriate and felt right in downtown Peoria." The functionality of the theater - how the city intended to use the facility, how often it was used and its target audience - also played equally into Reed's design. The materials chosen for the building lend itself to aging gracefully, such as the copper for the roof, Reed said, adding the metal was historically mined in Arizona. Over time, the reddish-colored metal darkens and eventually turns to a copper patina, which keeps the building looking fresh with its changes, he said.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo by Michael Schennum.]

Saturday, January 27, 2007

This day in history

January 27, 1888: National Geographic Society founded. On January 27, 1888, the National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, D.C., for "the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge." The 33 men who originally met and formed the National Geographic Society were a diverse group of geographers, explorers, teachers, lawyers, cartographers, military officers and financiers. All shared an interest in scientific and geographical knowledge, as well as an opinion that in a time of discovery, invention, change and mass communication, Americans were becoming more curious about the world around them.

With this in mind, the men drafted a constitution and elected as the Society's president a lawyer and philanthropist named Gardiner Greene Hubbard. Neither a scientist nor a geographer, Hubbard represented the Society's desire to reach out to the layman. Nine months after its inception, the Society published its first issue of National Geographic magazine. Readership did not grow, however, until Gilbert H. Grosvenor took over as editor in 1899. In only a few years, Grosvenor boosted circulation from 1,000 to 2 million by discarding the magazine's format of short, overly technical articles for articles of general interest accompanied by photographs. National Geographic quickly became known for its stunning and pioneering photography, being the first to print natural-color photos of sky, sea and the North and South Poles.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Old West shootout focus of Florence historic home tour

[Source: Kristi Eaton, Arizona Republic] -- Florence's western heritage is the focus of this year's annual historic home tour. One Straight Shootin' Home Tour pays homage to the 1888 Tunnel Saloon shootout between two former lawmen, said Jennifer Evans, manager of the Florence Main Street Program. The event will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 10. "We use themes to try to highlight the different aspects of our history," she said.

According to the stories, the shootout between ex-sheriff Pete Gabriel and his former deputy Joe Phy started in what was then the Tunnel Saloon and ended in Main Street. Gabriel survived and Phy died a few hours later. The self-guided two-hour walking tour will take participants throughout the town as they visit some of the oldest homes and commercial buildings, including what was Florence's first general merchandise store. John Swearengin, Florence's unofficial historian, will also offer a guided walking tour.

Evans said she is still finalizing which homes and buildings will be a part of this year's tour. She said the Pinal County Historical Society Museum will host a Chautauqua on John P. Clum, who published the first newspaper in Florence in 1879. Admission is $10 in advance, or $12 the day of the event. Children under 18 are admitted free. Proceeds go to the Florence Main Street Program.

Court denies Goddard claim of immunity against libel suit

[Source: Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services] -- The Arizona Court of Appeals refused a request by state Attorney General Terry Goddard (pictured) to throw out a libel lawsuit filed against him by developer George Johnson. The case stems from a February 2005 complaint filed by Goddard's office against Johnson and several of his companies in connection with efforts two years earlier to build a large residential community in southern Pinal County. The complaint also dealt with work along the banks of the Little Colorado River in Apache County.

In the lawsuit filed two years ago, Goddard's office, representing the state Department of Environmental Quality, accused Johnson of illegally using state and private land. He and his companies are charged with destroying Hohokam sites dating to A.D. 750 and killing more than 40,000 protected native plans including saguaro and ironwood on state trust lands. He also is charged with allowing sheep to graze on the land, causing an epidemic that killed 21 rare desert bighorn sheep. That case is pending.Johnson took offense to a news release that Goddard issued at the same time. In a counterclaim filed last year, Johnson asked the court to conclude that Goddard had libeled him and his companies. In his legal papers, Johnson expressed offense at several of Goddard's statements, including the attorney general's contention that Johnson and his companies committed "wanton destruction of Arizona's heritage resources." He wants $20 million for himself and his wife, and $10 million for each of two related entities. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

This day in history

January 26, 1788 : Australia Day. On January 26, 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip guides a fleet of 11 British ships carrying convicts to the colony of New South Wales, effectively founding Australia. After overcoming a period of hardship, the fledgling colony began to celebrate the anniversary of this date with great fanfare. Australia, once known as New South Wales, was originally planned as a penal colony. In October 1786, the British government appointed Arthur Phillip captain of the HMS Sirius, and commissioned him to establish an agricultural work camp there for British convicts.

With little idea of what he could expect from the mysterious and distant land, Phillip had great difficulty assembling the fleet that was to make the journey. His requests for more experienced farmers to assist the penal colony were repeatedly denied, and he was both poorly funded and outfitted. Nonetheless, accompanied by a small contingent of Marines and other officers, Phillip led his 1,000-strong party, of whom more than 700 were convicts, around Africa to the eastern side of Australia. In all, the voyage lasted eight months, claiming the deaths of some 30 men.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

APF's new "History & Adventure" blog

Hello fellow APF'ers and preservation enthusiasts! I am writing to you as the newest addition to the Arizona Preservation Foundation staff. Among the duties that I have assumed, I am now a newsletter contributor and editor. I will update the site every week so be sure to check-in for the latest news and events. I am very excited about this part of my job and, in my enthusiasm, I created my own blog for APF called, "History and Adventures in Arizona." It is a travel and photologue of places, events, and general Arizona history.

I just completed my first entry, an article on the history of Tombstone and the recent event celebrating the 125th anniversary of the shootout at the OK Corral (which I attended and photographed). As a newcomer to Arizona, I would love to hear from you where I should go next. Please send your ideas to Leanne Matzenger. To read my first entry, click on the 2nd link on the right, "APF's History & Adventure Blog." I hope you enjoy it! Leanne Matzenger, APF Administrator

Tucson developer lauded for downtown work

[Source: Teya Vitu, Tucson Citizen] -- Downtown housing developer Michael Keith marches to his own tune. He doesn't seek publicity and he's not one of the downtown builders with multistory projects. But Keith's devotion to historic details when he builds or fixes up houses downtown drew Mayor Bob Walkup's attention. Walkup on Thursday will give Keith the "Heart of Downtown" award at 10 a.m. at Keith's Franklin Court project, on the northeast corner of Franklin Street and Court Avenue. "Michael has been an active participant in downtown redevelopment efforts for many years," Walkup said in a statement. "He has volunteered countless hours to restoring downtown historic architecture and helping secure affordable housing for many of our residents."

Keith doesn't build large, flashy loft projects. He builds homes that fit in with downtown architecture. Since 1985, he has renovated about 30 abandoned historic houses in downtown neighborhoods, mostly Barrio Viejo, and he lives in one of his rescue projects. "Everything I've done has been very detailed, historically compatible, using original materials like adobe and wood floors," said Keith, president of Contemporary West Development. He has also done 13 new houses downtown, including seven in Franklin Court. Most of his projects, old and new, include enclosed courtyards. "I believe downtown has come a long way in the past 10 years, much more than we're giving it credit for," said Keith, a native Tucsonan. "I believe Tucson is the next Western city that is going to have a vibrant downtown." [Photo by Jerry Peek.]

Quechan Tribe propose Yuma park

[Source: Darin Fenger, Yuma Sun] -- The Quechan Tribe recently joined forces with the city of Yuma to propose the $1.2 million Quechan Nature Park, 10-acres of tribal land along the Colorado River that would be transformed into a major recreational area. Local leaders say they envision families enjoying modern picnic facilities, nature lovers exploring miles of trail, and folks of all ages taking advantage of docks for swimming and boating. The area would also be replanted with native vegetation, including mesquite trees and local grasses.

"This park is just going to be really beautiful, going back to the traditional plants and trees that would have been there back in the beginning," said Mike Jackson, president of the Quechan Tribe. "We have been wanting this for a long time and the elders are really enthusiastic about it. They agree with the plans." Plans call for Quechan Nature Park to be located just northeast of the Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge, placing the new development where it will easily transition into work already done on the other side of the river — the East Wetlands Park. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Mining Asian history in Phoenix

[Source: Angela Cara Pancrazio, Arizona Republic] -- After more than six months of combing city records, gathering oral histories, and digging through archives of family photographs, the city's Asian-American Historic Property Survey is nearly complete. Before the project is finished, the city's Historic Preservation Office and historian Vince Murray of Arizona Historical Research are looking for feedback to make sure they haven't overlooked any significant properties. The findings will be used to nominate individual properties and neighborhoods to the Phoenix Historic Property Register as well as the National Register of Historic Places.

The Asian-American survey is the third in a series that includes the African-American Historic Property Survey and the recently completed Hispanic Historic Property Survey. The Historic Preservation Office is also planning a study of Native-American heritage in Phoenix. "We're just trying to find everything we can," said Murray, who has identified more than 100 historically significant properties associated with Asian-Americans in Phoenix. "I'm sure there are a lot more stories and properties out there that we don't know about." Murray, who was contracted by the city, has posted his draft report on his Web site, and is encouraging feedback on any locations that might have been overlooked. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

This day in history

January 25,1924: First Winter Olympics. On January 25, 1924, the first Winter Olympics take off in style at Chamonix in the French Alps. Spectators were thrilled by the ski jump and bobsled as well as 12 other events involving a total of six sports. The "International Winter Sports Week," as it was known, was a great success, and in 1928 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) officially designated the Winter Games, staged in St. Moritz, Switzerland, as the second Winter Olympics.

Five years after the birth of the modern Olympics in 1896, the first organized international competition involving winter sports was staged in Sweden. Called the Nordic Games, only Scandinavian countries competed. Like the Olympics, it was staged thereon every four years but always in Sweden. In 1908, figure skating made its way into the Summer Olympics in London, though it was not actually held until October, some three months after the other events were over.

In 1911, the IOC proposed the staging of a separate winter competition for the 1912 Stockholm Games, but Sweden, wanting to protect the popularity of the Nordic Games, declined. Germany planned a Winter Olympics to precede the 1916 Berlin Summer Games, but World War I forced the cancellation of both. At the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium, ice hockey joined figure skating as an official Olympic event, and Canada took home the first of many hockey gold medals. Soon after, an agreement was reached with Scandinavians to stage the IOC-sanctioned International Winter Sports Week. It was so popular among the 16 participating nations that, in 1925, the IOC formally created the Winter Olympics, retroactively making Chamonix the first.

Late opposition may upset plan for $50,000 steel flower garden

[Source: Carol Sowers, Arizona Republic] -- Scottsdale plans to spend $50,000 to erect a garden of steel flowers whirling atop 10- to 15-foot poles in a southern neighborhood as part an energetic revitalization program. But late-blooming opposition to the Cox Heights "garden," planned for Monte Vista and Hayden roads, could stall the project long enough to jeopardize its city funding. No one denies that the brightly colored flowers are whimsical and different from the standard horse statues that adorn the gateways to many Scottsdale neighborhoods. Some residents of the older neighborhood fancy the idea of wind-driven steel flowers, twirling behind a plastic picket fence. Others call it an eyesore.

Valerie Vadala Homer, of the Scottsdale Cultural Council, which oversees such projects, said members were blindsided by the protest. The plan had been presented to neighbors in September, but opposition didn't bubble up until December. "We were so far into the project and were not aware of the opposition," she said. So the council invited Cox Heights residents to its Wednesday meeting to hear more. Nine residents at the meeting were for the project; four were against. Still, there is enough ill will to try to find a compromise, says the council's Jana Weldon, who oversees the steel garden. But talk takes time and officials had hoped to have the garden planted by June 30, the end of Scottsdale's fiscal year. If not, the funding may evaporate, Weldon said. Plenty of people like the garden the way it is. Myron Brower who spoke in favor of the flowers called them "contextual art," a symbol of the rebirth of south Scottsdale over the past three years.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo by David Rencher.]

Art show to benefit Sonoita's Empire Ranch

[Source: Valerie Hing, Nogales International.com] -- This year's Empire 100 Western Art Show and Sale at the Northern Trust Bank in Tucson promises to be the best ever. The annual show, which starts Monday, Jan. 22, and runs until Feb. 26, breaks all records, reported the event coordinator Marion Hyland. The show benefits historic preservation of the Empire Ranch headquarters near Sonoita [pictured]. Those records include the most artists participating, widest range of prices and sizes of original paintings, and the highest total show value, $260,000. The paintings are mostly oils along with pastels, watercolors, pencils and acrylic. There are 15 bronze sculptures.

The show will be available for viewing daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and has become well known and has attracted many out-of-state artists through the Web site, said Hyland. Last spring's invitational photo shoot also brought in new participants, she added. There are many local artists from the Sonoita/Elgin and Patagonia area, including Robert Berk, Helen Chester, William Cook, Mick Davidson, Deborah and Fred Fellows, Keri Jelks, Joe Staheli and Katheryn Drummond. Among the newcomers to show are Narrie Toole from New Mexico, Howard Rogers of Scottsdale, Jove Wang of California, and Don Crowley, a Tucson Seven. Returning favorites include the show's signature artist Santos Barbosa, Tom Dorr, Michael Ewing, Fred Hambly, Chauncey Homer, Jessica McCain and Hank Richter.

There will be two receptions for the show. The first, on opening night, is for members of the Empire Ranch Foundation and the second, on Thursday, Jan. 25, is for the Friends of Western Art. The Northern Trust Bank is at 3450 E. Sunrise Drive in Tucson. Those interested in attending should contact the automated RSVP line at (520) 615-2391 or call Brooke Fawcett at (520) 615-2311. A full roster and many images of the show will be available online. Those interested in learning more about the foundation can also check the Web site. [Photo by TuleReed.com.]

Historical discovery aided by Arizonan

[Source: Anne Ryman, Arizona Republic] -- A University of Arizona professor is on a team that has discovered evidence that modern humans lived in parts of Eastern Europe as early as 45,000 years ago. The study is being published today in Science magazine. Vance Holliday was part of the international group working on the project, and he did the geological analysis at the rural sites, called Kostenki, 250 miles south of Moscow. Researchers found stone, bone, and ivory tools under volcanic ash left over from an eruption 40,000 years ago. The materials were dated using a scientific process that determines when the tools were last exposed to daylight.

Researchers also found shell ornaments and a carved ivory head, which may be the earliest piece of figurative art in the world. Holliday, a professor of anthropology and geosciences, visited the sites three times beginning in 2001 to do field work. He often works in the U.S., so it was a different and exciting change, he said. "Here in the New World you don't have sites that old," he said. Scientists have long sought to trace the early routes of modern humans. The latest finding appears to show they made their way into central Eastern Europe several thousand years before they spread across Western and Eastern Europe. Prior studies have estimated migration into Europe at 40,000 to 43,000 years ago.

Man's legacy: a saga of growth, as planner Taylor leaves city job

[Source: Tom Beal, Daily Star] -- Taylor looks at numbers and sees people. For three decades, Taylor has been principal interpreter of the Tucson zeitgeist, a man with a firm grasp of the region's history, an encyclopedic knowledge of its demographics and an affection for its people, disguised in satire that nips and occasionally bites. He's crunched the numbers, and he's got us down. "You and I came with a thirst for space," he said in a 1999 speech. "We have decided we want 17 acres and a horse for Johnny. We want Camelot among the saguaros. Most Tucsonans I know want a six-lane divided interstate at the end of their mailbox . . . that goes directly and without a light to their shaded parking space at their place of work." Taylor, 66, will end his 30 years as a city planner this week.

Trained as an anthropologist, Taylor first found work as a "fake planner" under Tucson Planning Director Paul Zucker in 1976. It was the heyday of a Comprehensive Planning Process spawned by a political populism that decried the ill effects of urban sprawl and suggested controls on the region's growth. The plan was denounced as a "communist manifesto" by business leaders who rose up to defeat it, Taylor said. "The business community convinced us that more is better and too much is just right." In subsequent decades, we spread, as Taylor would say, "like peanut butter on a hot car hood." As the population soared, the region's density was halved. Wages shrank. Tucson's median wage dropped steadily between 1970 and 1990. Things have improved since then, Taylor said, but we're still not up to 1970 levels in real dollars, and our density remains less than half what it was in the early '50s — and it continues to drop.

Taylor embraced every opportunity to remind us of our conflicting desires to grow and to preserve our way of life, and of the effects of not doing either well. He spoke to groups of all stripes at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and provided the leavening quote in every well-baked story about the region's growth. Jack Camper, president of the Metropolitan Tucson Chamber of Commerce for much of Taylor's tenure as principal planner for the city, said he always could rely on Taylor for humorous speeches and hard facts. "That was the key," Camper said. "You didn't get a bunch of fluff from Dave Taylor. He told it like he saw it. He was a terrific source of reliable information." [Note: To read the full article, click here.

Florence continues work on downtown business

[Source: Mark Cowling, Casa Grande Valley Newspaper] -- Twenty elected and appointed town officials met last week with staff to discuss how the town's new Downtown Commercial zone might best help to achieve goals for downtown. Several of the ideas aired at last Thursday's work session will likely reappear in coming weeks before the Planning and Zoning Commission and Town Council for action. Those two panels met in last week's work session, along with the Historic District Advisory Commission and Downtown Redevelopment Commission. With DC zoning at last in place on North Main Street and a block on either side, officials spoke of the opportunities presented as well as lingering concerns.

Officials eagerly anticipated National Bank of Arizona's relocation to the corner of Main Street and Butte Avenue. Florence Planning Director Mark Eckhoff said the bank's architect spent some time studying local architecture to design a building that would fit well into downtown. However, the new bank will have a drive-through, which is not currently allowed in the DC zone. Barbara Parkin-McBride, a member of the Historic District Advisory Commission, said the commission would be in favor of allowing the bank's drive-though, "given the architectural provisions and the streetscape provisions that have been made." [Note: To read the full article, click here.

Oldest hotel in Lake Havasu City to be renamed and remodeled

[Source: Tony Raap, News Herald] -- One of Lake Havasu City's oldest hotels is about to get a new name. The Nautical Inn, a 169-room resort on the Island, is having a renaming contest. People may send in their suggestions on what they want the hotel to be called. The person with the winning suggestion receives a three-night stay at the Inn, said Vern Porter, the hotel's general manager. The Inn also is changing the name of its restaurant - the Captain's Table - and golf course - Havasu Island Golf Club. Prizes for those winning suggestions include a $300 restaurant tab and three rounds of free golf.

“Why not involve the community in changing the names? Why not have some fun?” Porter said. “We want to be part of the community, so let's let the community be part of us and let them select some names.” The hotel's ownership changed hands in May. Its new owners - LH Ventures- want a revamped, more modern image. The name changes coincide with that, Porter said. A four-judge panel will select the winners in February. The changes don't stop with names. Ownership also is remodeling its hotel rooms. Each will have a tropical interior along with granite countertops and new furniture. Mimi Ayres, assistant sales and marketing manager, expects that to be finished by April.

To take part in the renaming contest, send suggestions by e-mail by Feb. 15. You also can mail the suggestions to Nautical Inn, 1000 N. McCulloch Blvd., Lake Havasu City, Ariz., 86403 or call 855-2141 ext. 432. Be sure to include contact information.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

This day in history

January 24,1924 : Ford creates a village.
Glenn CurtissKingsford, Michigan, the Ford Motor Company's planned community, was incorporated as a village. The company owned large tracts of timber in the area, which were used to produce wooden auto-body panels like those commonly seen on its station wagons in later decades.

Tucson neighborhood preservation zones hearing set

[Source: Tom Beal, Arizona Daily Star] -- The city of Tucson wants to give urban neighborhoods a chance to create their own zoning rules — a tool it hopes will protect the character of residential areas as it tries to repopulate and redevelop older parts of town. Critics say any additional layer of regulation would thwart the city's professed desire to fill in vacant and underdeveloped areas by driving builders from the city. They warn that with the recent passage of Proposition 207, property owners can claim a monetary loss from new zoning that limits development. The Neighborhood Preservation Zone would allow areas with a common style of development, or those threatened by what they consider inappropriate development, to create a plan for ensuring neighborhood compatibility that has the force of zoning law.

A land-use code amendment allowing the zones is set for a public hearing before the city's Planning Commission on Feb. 7. The first zone attempted under the ordinance is expected to be in the Jefferson Park Neighborhood, north of the University of Arizona, where an invasion of student-packed housing on residential streets provided the impetus for a re-examination of neighborhood planning. Citing the city's inability to prevent "minidorms" — along with its plans to lure apartments, condominiums, and mixed-use developments to the transportation corridors that border older residential areas — a group of neighborhood leaders formed the Neighborhood Infill Coalition and lobbied the City Council and the Department of Urban Planning and Design for protection.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo by Jerry Peek.]

Hotel-condo project planned for downtown Scottsdale

[Source: Peter Corbett, Arizona Republic] -- A six-story luxury hotel and more than 200 condos, some of them going for more than $1 million, would be built in downtown Scottsdale, according to plans a development group plans to submit to the city Monday. The unnamed project would be built on 10.37 acres southeast of the Arizona Canal and northeast of Camelback and Scottsdale roads along a nearly half-mile stretch of aging apartments on 73rd Street. It would include improvements to the canal bank and two pedestrian bridges, linking the development with the Safari Drive condos under construction northwest of the canal. It also would be linked to Scottsdale Fashion Square to the west, and Scottsdale Waterfront to the southwest.

In addition, 73rd Street would be realigned with Buckboard Trail, allowing a safer crossing at a traffic signal for pedestrians going to and from the W Hotel Scottsdale and nightclubs south of Camelback. "This ties all the quadrants together," said development attorney John Berry, representing Scottsdale Canal Development LLC. The two principals, John Wanninger and Mark Madkour, have development experience in the Minneapolis area. They are seeking a rezoning that would allow a 72-foot-tall hotel and condos of up to 65 feet high. Parking would be underground. Their plan includes 190 condos plus 16 penthouse units of up to 5,200 square feet. They would feature far more outdoor living space than other luxury condos are offering, Wanninger said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

National Trust extends nomination deadline for most endangered places list

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is accepting nominations until Friday, Jan. 26 for its 2007 America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list. Issued annually to raise awareness of historic sites at risk from neglect, deterioration, lack of maintenance, insufficient funds, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy, the list marks its 20th anniversary in 2007. Since its founding, the endangered list has been one of the nation’s most successful tools in the fight to save America's irreplaceable architectural, cultural and natural heritage.

Among the many sites that have been listed are Historic Neighborhoods of New Orleans; Ellis Island in New York Harbor; the Kennecott Copper Mines in Alaska; Bethlehem Steel Plant in Bethlehem, Pa.; the World Trade Center Vesey Street Survivors’ Staircase; and “The Journey Through Hallowed Ground” Corridor in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Each represents preservation challenges facing thousands of communities.

To ensure that the most threatened sites are chosen, the National Trust uses three primary criteria to determine the 11 finalists: significance, urgency and potential solutions. For more information about the nomination process and to download the nomination form, click here or e-mail Carrie Johnson. Completed nominations must be received by Friday, January 26, 2007. The 2007 list will be announced in May.

Historic designation for Phoenix's Cartwright School

[Source: Barbara Stocklin] -- On January 10 Historic Preservation (HP) staff gave a presentation to the governing board of the Cartwright School District regarding historic designation for Cartwright School. The school is located at the southeast corner of 59th Avenue and Thomas Road. The property has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1993 but has never been listed on the Phoenix Historic Property Register.

The proposed HP zoning overlay would include three structures fronting Thomas Road—a 1924 school building, a 1928 teacher/principal house known as the “Heritage House,” and a ca. 1955 school building. The remaining buildings on the campus would not be included in the HP zoning overlay. Following staff’s presentation, the governing board voted 4-0 to support the historic designation. Staff will request that the HP Commission initiate HP zoning for the property on January 22, 2007. [Photo source: Leanne Matzenger.]

Buckeye increases grant to $10,000 for revamps

[Source: Arizona Republic] --Downtown business and building owners wanting to improve their Buckeye properties can apply for twice as much funding. The Main Street Coalition's Fast-Track Grant Program will allow applicants to seek up to $10,000. The Town Council recently approved the increase from $5,000, citing the high costs associated with building improvements.

"When you're talking about doing facade improvements on the older buildings, $5,000 doesn't even touch it," Mayor Bobby Bryant said. "This will give business or building owners more financial means to do it correctly." The Fast-Track Grant Program funds immediate visual improvements in historic downtown Buckeye and has helped revamp such popular downtown spots as the Butcher and the Farmer Market and Millstone Cafe.

Aboretum expands birdwalk program

[Source: Larry Copenhaver, Tucson Citizen] -- Whether it's Rufous-backed robin sightings, a brown thrasher, house wrens, broad-billed hummingbirds or other colorful feathered friends, parts of Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park are going to the birds. It's a treat for visitors, said Paul Wolterbeek, volunteer program coordinator at the arboretum, one of Arizona's state parks that recently expanded its guided bird-walk volunteer roster. Bird walks are offered at 8:30 a.m. on the first and third Saturday and also the second and fourth Sunday during February, March and April, he said. The walks are included with admission, $7.50 for adults, $3 for ages 5-12. An annual membership begin at $45 per couple. Boyce Thompson Arboretum, 37615 U.S. Highway 60, is about 12 miles east of Florence Junction. [Photo by Steve Davidson].

This day in history

January 23, 1849: First woman M.D.
Elizabeth Blackwell is granted a medical degree from Geneva College in New York, becoming the first female to be officially recognized as a physician in U.S. history.
Blackwell, born in Bristol, England, came to the United States in her youth and attended the medical faculty of Geneva College, now known as Hobart College. In 1849, she graduated with the highest grades in her class and was granted an M.D. In 1857, after several years of private practice, she founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children with her sister, Emily Blackwell, also a doctor. In 1868, the institution was expanded to include a women's college for the training of nurses and doctors, the first of its kind in America. The next year, Blackwell returned to England, where in 1875 she became professor of gynecology at the London School of Medicine for Women, a medical discipline she had helped to establish.

Fiesta Village called eyesore in Mesa

[Source: David Woodfill, East Valley Tribune] -- A 15-acre shopping center at the northwest corner of Alma School Road and Southern Avenue in Mesa could sit mostly unused for up to a year, city officials said. The Fiesta Village Shopping Center, which dominates a high profile location in the shopping hub anchored by Fiesta Mall, has become a major bone of contention between city officials and the owner, W.M. Grace Development Co. Despite its location, the owner is allowing the plaza to sit empty, creating an eyesore for an otherwise successful retail hub, said Teri Kilgore, interim director in the city’s Office of Economic Development.

The empty plaza is drawing the ire of surrounding residents and businesses, too, she said. “We get lots and lots and lots of calls into our office about what’s the city going to do about that property,” Kilgore said. “The answer really is it’s not our property.” Kilgore said company officials became embittered after requesting financial assistance from the city to redevelop the property. “I think we are kind of just at a standoff,” she said. The company declined to comment. [Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo by Tim Hacker.]

Friday, January 19, 2007

San Manuel stacks topple into history

[Source: Max Jarman, Arizona Republic] -- The toppling of two 500-foot smokestacks in San Manuel on Wednesday symbolized the bittersweet transition of this 4,500-resident community from a rambunctious mining town to a haven for retirees. The stacks, which were the most prominent reminders of the southeastern Arizona community's mining days, were leveled with 320 pounds of explosives that caused the giant towers to topple like felled trees. Jamie Dicus, who has lived here for 53 years, cried when the dust settled and the familiar landmarks were no more. She worked in Tucson for a while and always was relieved when she topped the hill and the towers came into view. "When I saw them, I'd say, 'Thank God, I'm home,'" she said.

Added Charlie Looney, "It's the end of an era. Generation after generation worked here, and now it's ending," said Looney, a longtime miner. Many old-timers thought that, as long as the stacks stood, there was a possibility the mine, which closed in 1999, could reopen. But as the chimneys fell Wednesday, they were forced to accept that San Manuel's mining days were over. Controlled Demolition Inc. of Maryland handled the job, first weakening the stacks' bases and then creating notches that made them fall in the prescribed direction. The company holds the U.S. record for demolishing a concrete chimney, a 750-foot stack brought down near McGill, Nev., in 1993.

Built a decade before Sun City, San Manuel was Arizona's first Del Webb community. It was built in the early 1950s by Phoenix contractor Del E. Webb as a company town for workers at Magma Copper Co.'s nearby San Manuel Mine. And, although it never was intended as a retirement community, most of its residents are now retirees. When the mine closed, taking away the livelihoods of more than 2,000 miners and their families, it looked like San Manuel might die. But as the miners moved on, retirees began buying up their houses, breathing new life into the community.

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

Lettuce is Yuma celebration's main course

[Source: Marija Potkonjak, East Valley Tribune] -- The next time you eat a crisp lettuce leaf, think of Yuma. This town known for its sand dunes and territorial prison produces 3.6 billion heads of lettuce between November and March. “We’re the winter lettuce capital of the world,” says Dorothy Young, an event coordinator for Heritage Festivals. Yuma’s agricultural claim to fame will be celebrated this weekend during Yuma’s Lettuce Days celebration. Almost 40,000 people (most of them winter visitors) are expected to mob this small town in honor of lactuca sativa. “People really enjoy coming down to see the farm equipment,” says Young. “It’s just become a thing to do.”

Agriculture is Yuma’s primary industry, representing one-third of the total agricultural base for the state, says Kurt Nolte, agricultural agent for Yuma County. “Everything that you have seen in the grocery store, we produced,” says Nolte. That includes romaine, green leaf, red leaf and iceberg lettuce. From Interstate 8 Yuma doesn’t look like the agricultural mecca it is. Rolling sand dunes dominate the landscape. But beyond the freeway, the waters of the Colorado River and Yuma’s mild winter temperatures make it an ideal place to grow lettuce. Yuma produces 95 percent of the country’s winter vegetable supply. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Provide your ideas about Papago Park

Mark your calendar for a Tri-city Papago Park planning meeting, Monday, January 22 at 3 p.m., Phoenix Zoo, Stone House Pavilion, 455 North Galvin Parkway. At this meeting, leaders from Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, and other key Papago Park stakeholders will provide the accomplishments to date and ongoing efforts to renew, rehabilitate, protect, and preserve Papago park. The public will have an opportunity to provide input.

Elected officials scheduled to attend include: from Phoenix - Councilman Greg Stanton, District 6; from Tempe - Mayor Hugh Hallman, Councilmembers Mark Mitchell and Barb Carter. The elected officials will be joined by the Jeff Williamson, CEO/President, Phoenix Zoo and Board President, Papago Salado Association. Email Kathi Reichert with any questions.

Mesa Historical Museum receives $10,000 grant

Former Mesa Mayor Wayne Pomeroy and his wife Cecil have made a $10,000 grant to the Mesa Historical Society and Museum for the purpose of developing an entrance garden and plaza area on the museum campus. The area, to be known as "Pomeroy Plaza," is part of an ongoing renovation effort for the buildings and landscaping on the museum campus on Horne, north of McKellips. "This is a generous and wonderful 40th anniversary gift for the Mesa Historical Society,” commented Dennis Kavanaugh, Chair of the Mesa Historical Society. Kavanaugh added "we hope this gift will set the tone for other support for the museum from Mesa residents and businesses."

The Mesa Historical Museum is in the former Lehi Elementary School, the oldest surviving school building in the City of Mesa, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum has just opened its first new permanent exhibit in twenty years, “Searching for Mesa: Finding Ourselves in our History.” The exhibit covers over 2000 years of Mesa’s history, from the prehistoric Hohokam to the modern city of almost 500,00 people.

History Channel's "Save Our History" grant program now accepting applications

Save Our History is a national history education and preservation initiative that raises awareness and support for preserving local heritage. The History Channel created Save Our History to support local history education and historic preservation efforts in communities across America. The deadline for submitting an application for the 2007-2008 cycle is Friday, June 1, 2007. For updated guidelines and criteria, descriptions of past grant winning projects, and to apply, visit the Save Our History website.

Over the past three years, The History Channel has awarded $750,000 in Save Our History grants to 82 historical organizations, large and small, urban, suburban, and rural, in the north, south, east, west and central United States. This is a special year for the program -- 2007-2008 grant recipients will represent $1,000,000 in grants awarded by The History Channel through Save Our History. You can send an email with any questions, comments, or suggestions.

UA wants $62M for Rio Nuevo museum

[Source: La Monica Everett-Haynes, Tucson Citizen] -- Arizona's first inhabitants gathered more than 10,000 years ago with nothing more than spears to hunt mammoths. The Clovis people were hunters, and their story is told in bones and spear points excavated from the San Pedro Valley. But those clues to our past are in storage -- along with other treasures -- at the Arizona State Museum. Also tucked out of view at the museum on the University of Arizona campus are ancient tools, vessels, turquoise jewelry, ceramic figures, effigy pieces, trade items, and Quechan Indian dolls.

The artifacts, and the UA museum's decades of research, chronicle the region's history and origins, which is why UA officials say the city should fund expansion of the museum downtown with Rio Nuevo funds. UA is seeking $62 million to build a branch of the museum just south of Congress Street and west of the Santa Cruz River. That is where a farming culture developed some 4,000 years ago. If that happens, the public will finally be able to see, on consistent display, thousands of items excavated in Arizona.

"People want to see these things," said Michael J. Riley, the museum's associate curator and head of public programs. "The biggest critique is, 'You don't have enough stuff up.' Our job is to tell the stories of groups of people." The museum's collection traces the evolution of prehistoric humans, revealing their hunting styles, migration patterns, farming techniques, technology, and trade interests. It speaks to climate changes, culture, and religion, and may be important to American Indians trying to gain land and water rights, Riley said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

New Mexico's Acoma Sky City becomes 28th National Trust historic site

[Source: National Trust for Historic Preservation] -- Sixty miles west of Albuquerque, atop a sheer-walled, 370-foot sandstone mesa, Acoma Sky City has remained suspended in time for two millennia. The oldest continuously inhabited community in North America, Acoma Sky City has an eye toward the future with today’s announcement that it will become the 28th National Trust Historic Site. Overlooking a vast desert-and-mountain sweep of northern New Mexico and dating back to 1150 AD, Acoma Sky City is a vibrant community characterized by its adobe houses, plazas, walkways, and the San Esteban del Rey Mission Church, completed around 1640.

The Acoma people have long welcomed visitors to their community, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and a Save America's Treasures (SAT) site in 1999. Today, approximately fifteen families live year-round on the 70-acre mesa. The Pueblo of Acoma owns Acoma Sky City, and the tribal council is responsible for all decisions and operations. By entering into the agreement with the National Trust, the pueblo will avail itself of the National Trust’s expertise in preservation, conservation, and interpretation as well as national standards, best practices, and legal advocacy. Furthermore, the agreement allows Acoma Sky City access to technical services, special grant funds, and cooperative marketing programs available only to National Trust Historic Sites.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Rick Scott.]

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tickets on sale for March Modern Phoenix Home Tour

The Modern Phoenix Neighborhood Network and The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art are pleased to announce their new collaboration in presenting the 3rd Annual Home Tour and Expo on March 24 and 25, 2007. This year's theme is "Progress + Preservation," and the event spotlights the urgent need to practice preservation for midcentury modern design, while also honoring the independent spirits that create contemporary design in Phoenix. A little education, a little networking, a lot of eye candy, and a load of fun, the Modern Phoenix home tour has gained notoriety as a first-rate special event.

Here's why: The free expo will introduce you to Modern Phoenix member-owned businesses and services from real estate to furniture to fine art. On Saturday, keynote speaker Alan Hess, author of "The Ranch House," will discuss the hidden history of Mid-Century Modern design and remind us of the "true variety, vitality, and excellence of architecture in the mid 20th century." Bob Mather will discuss history and design preservation guidelines for Ralph Haver Homes. Troy Bankord will share design techniques for connecting indoor and outdoor spaces and Michael P. Johnson will recount the adventures of an architect transforming Midcentury Modern homes.

The event will culminate on Sunday with a walking tour through select Ralph Haver-designed homes in the uptown Phoenix neighborhood Marlen Grove. For a complete itinerary and photos of Marlen Grove, visit the Official Tour Home Page. Call the box office at 480-994-2787 to reserve your tickets. Seating for the speakers is limited, and only 400 home tour tickets will be available.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

This day in history

January 16, 1920: Prohibition begins.
Prohibition of alcohol began today when the 18th Amendment went into effect. On this day in 1920, The Evening Gazette printed a statement from Morris Sheppard, author of the amendment. Sheppard stated that prohibition meant "a rise to a higher and better plane of civilization for the United States. It means more savings, more homes, better health and better morals. It means that the American republic has achieved a distinctive triumph for right and righteousness in the low and bitter struggle between good and evil." Prohibition ended when the 18th Amendment was repealed in 1933.

Talking Rock, Phoenix Home & Garden team up to support Prescott's Sharlott Hall Museum

[Source: PRWeb] -- Talking Rock and Phoenix Home & Garden recently named Sharlot Hall Museum the recipient of all proceeds at the Spring 2007 debut of The Idea House (pictured) -- a 5,200 square foot ranch-style compound consisting of three separate buildings that will feature reclaimed wood floors, intimate flowing open spaces, uniquely designed ceilings and fireplaces, custom library shelves and more. A unique parcel of Prescott, AZ real estate, the Idea House will showcase the best of old-time craftsmanship and also the best of what is new.

The Idea House will open for tours three consecutive weekends (Thursday-Sunday), June 7-24, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Event proceeds will benefit Sharlot Hall Museum and help promote their ongoing dedication to the preservation and education of Prescott history. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

As new year begins, much work remains to save Florence history

[Source: Florence Reminder and Blade-Tribune] -- In the spring of 2006 a group of citizens banded together to celebrate National Historic Preservation Month by reminding Florence citizens of the importance of preserving our heritage by continuing to rehabilitate our historic structures. At that time several buildings were given the designation of "Florence's Most Endangered Historic Properties" and 'Treasures of Concern." This article will update you on the status of several of these buildings. Properties receiving the "Most Endangered" status were: (1) Lopez House, 25 North Bailey Street; (2) 1st Pinal County Courthouse (pictured), NW corner of Main & Ruggles Streets; (3) John Clum House, NW corner of Granite & 10 Streets; and (4) the 2nd E. N. Fish & Co./Collingwood & Co. Store (American Legion Building), NE corner of Main & Ruggles Streets.

The Lopez House, John Clum House, and American Legion Building have not received any rehabilitation work during the past six months. The 1st Pinal County Courthouse (McFarland Historic State Park) is undergoing diagnostic testing including soil analysis to determine the appropriate treatments for rehabilitation. One of the major problems with the building is the buckling and cracking of the adobe caused by moisture reaching the adobe. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Feedback good for infill homes in Phoenix historic area

[Source: Linda Helser, Arizona Republic] -- They're open and modern on the inside, but appear vintage and historic on the outside. The four new single-family infill houses just completed in the downtown Phoenix Garfield Historic District are proving to be all-around winners. A joint project of the Garfield Organization, Neighborhood Housing Services of Phoenix, and Phoenix's Neighborhood Services Department, the new construction infill homes were designed to fit in rather than stick out in an otherwise historic neighborhood dating back to 1883 through 1942.

"That's the most important feedback we got during neighborhood meetings," said Jonathan Peiffer of Roberts/Jones Associates, the principal architect who designed the four bungalow-style homes. "They wanted the garage in the rear and the big porch in the front and they wanted the houses to look like all the others in the neighborhood."

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

Friday, January 12, 2007

Safford historic district question arises

[Source: Aimee Staten, Eastern Arizona Courier] -- A Safford woman caught a glimpse of a future in which the older, statelier homes of yesterday are replaced or crowded cheek by jowl with mobile or manufactured homes, and she didn’t like what she saw. As local cotton fields and desert areas are slowly taken over by new housing developments, Susan Elsberry, owner of the historic William Talley House, is trying to preserve the integrity of the oldest homes and businesses in the Gila Valley by the formation of a historic district. She is also attempting to protect the dignity of the neighborhoods that hold these structures.

The William Talley House on 11th Street in Safford is one of 22 local structures on the National Register of Historic Places for the state of Arizona. Elsberry’s house is neighbor to some of the oldest homes built in the Gila Valley. From her front porch one can see the Olney House to the west, and her home is surrounded on three sides by the William Charles Davis House, the Hugh Talley House and the James R. Welker House — all of which are listed on the National Register. The William Talley House is not the grandest in its neighborhood, nor is it the most modest. The Spanish Revival model home, which boasts clean lines, a ceramic shingle roof and Moorish windows, is down the road from a grand Queen Anne-style home and directly across the street from two tiny, historical homes that sit side by side on a small piece of property.

These differences are what make the neighborhood not only valuable but also correctly reflect the history of the area. While the homes reflect their builders’ preferences in style and period, their walls also echo with sounds of past families living, rearing children for future generations of the Gila Valley, celebrating triumphs and mourning losses. As of the year 2000, Graham was the only county in Arizona that did not have a designated historic district, according to the state preservation plan update from the Arizona State Parks. Both the style and the historical significance of each is why Elsberry believes it is so important to preserve these structures, so she is busy trying to gather community support to petition for the historic district designation. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

New effort made on Renzi bill to expand Casa Grande Ruins

[Source: Brian Ahnmark, Casa Grande Dispatch] -- A congressional bill introduced by Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., proposes to add 257 acres to the grounds of Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. The Casa Grande Ruins represent the architectural remnants of the Hohokam culture, which flourished along the Gila River in the 13th and 14th centuries. The Hohokam implemented one of the most complex and effective irrigation farming techniques known to man, but their culture dissolved, leaving behind a collection of ruins including the "Casa Grande," or Great House. Spanish explorers came upon the Great House in the 1600s, describing a 1,200-acre settlement ringed by irrigation canals. Congress declared a portion of this settlement a "reservation" in 1889 and designated the property as a national monument in 1918.

Now, the monument is entering a phase of "redefinition," according to Superintendent Jason Lott, who wants the settlement's untold stories to come to light. Renzi introduced HR1019 in March 2005. The current grounds of the monument, established by Congress in 1889, consist of 480 acres, less than half of the settlement's estimated size of 1,200 acres. HR1019 aims to bring more archaeologically significant land within the scope of the monument boundaries. "These plots are remarkably well preserved," Lott said. "There is a huge research potential. This is the most advanced prehistoric civilization in America. We need to preserve this, from an archaeological standpoint. Once we construct houses and developments, these sites are gone."

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo by QT Luong.]

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Tucson's Fox Theatre receives preservation award

[Source: Teya Vitu, Tucson Citizen] -- The Society of American Travel Writers gave the Fox Tucson Theatre the Phoenix Award for its $13 million restoration of the downtown movie palace that had been shuttered for 30 years. The Fox reopened a year ago and since then has hosted 158 events that brought in 60,000 people. The award recognizes conservation and preservation efforts of individuals and organizations that further the appeal of travel destinations in North America.

The Fox was painstakingly restored to the smallest detail of its unique Southwest Art Deco design. "I've had a number of travel writers through the building, and they're certainly blown away and appreciate how beautiful the building is," said Herb Stratford, executive director of the Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation. The Fox was among only seven entities to get the Phoenix Award for 2006. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

To preserve health and heritage, Arizona Native Americans reclaim ancient foods

[Source: Jane E. Brody] -- Going back to one's roots could soon take on a more literal meaning for the native Americans of the American Southwest, as well as for peoples elsewhere in the world who are poorly adapted to rich, refined foods. For the sake of their health, as well as their cultural heritage, the Pima and Tohono O'odham tribes of Arizona are being urged to rediscover the desert foods their people traditionally consumed until as recently as the 1940's. Studies strongly indicate that people who evolved in these arid lands are metabolically best suited to the feast-and-famine cycles of their forebears who survived on the desert's unpredictable bounty, both wild and cultivated. By contrast, the modern North American diet is making them sick.

With rich food perpetually available, weights in the high 200's and 300's are not uncommon among these once-lean people. As many as half the Pima and Tohono O'odham (formerly Papago) Indians now develop diabetes by the age of 35, an incidence 15 times higher than for Americans as a whole. Yet before World War II, diabetes was rare in this population. Similar problems have been found among Australian aborigines, Pacific Islanders and other peoples whose survival historically depended on their ability to stash away calories in times of plenty to sustain them during droughts and crop failures. The Pima and Tohono O'odham Indians seem unusually efficient at turning calories to body fat; nutritionists say they gain weight readily on the kinds and amounts of foods people of European descent can eat with no problem. Preliminary studies have indicated that a change in the Indian diet back to the beans, corn, grains, greens and other low-fat, high-fiber plant foods that their ancestors depended upon can normalize blood sugar, suppress between-meal hunger and probably also foster weight loss. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix's Carraro Cactus Garden undergoes renovations

The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department and Historic Preservation Office will offer visitors a chance this winter to explore the newly renovated Carraro Cactus Garden surrounding the landmark Tovrea Castle. The city of Phoenix will offer guided, one-hour tours every other weekend from late January through April, 2007. There will be five tours per day between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. The tours will cost $15 per person; proceeds from the tours will help to fund future castle and garden rehabilitation and improvements. Those interested can register for the tours online by selecting the classes and programs link.

The tours kick off the weekend of Jan. 20-21 and will run through early May. Friday tours will be available on selected weekends. The tours will only cover the grounds and do not include access to Tovrea Castle, which is closed as part of ongoing rehabilitation and renovation. Parks staff has been working for years to slowly restore the plants in the garden and recently employed a cactus specialist to restore and rejuvenate many of the cactuses on site. Using period photos, staff also has been repairing and improving the grounds to more closely resemble the way they looked when the castle and cactus gardens were newly completed in the early 1930s. In addition to online registration, those interested also can call 602-256-3220 for more information.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Phoenix's St. James and Madison hotels to be boarded up pending fate

[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] -- City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office staff met the property owners and a board-up team at downtown's historic St. James and Madison hotels. The HP Office agreed to board up the structures, to protect them from vandalism, while the owners decide an ultimate disposition for the properties.

The St. James Hotel, 21 E. Madison Street, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places but not the Phoenix Historic Property Register. The Madison Hotel, 35 E. Madison Hotel, is eligible for historic designation, but is not listed on either the city or national registers.

Inventor pushes concept of pyramid homes

[Source: Amanda Baillie, Sierra Vista Herald] -- Gary Robertson believes in the power of the pyramid. So much so, that he wants to live in one. The full-time inventor has spent the last three months building a model pyramid home, which he says has more to offer than a conventional house. He hopes to build the real thing and sell the concept to home buyers. "My main reason for wanting to do this is because pyramid homes are so energy efficient," he said. "They are much cheaper to build and the maintenance costs are a lot lower."

This is not the first time the military veteran, who worked on nuclear submarines, has looked at the advantages of a pyramid home. "About 24 years ago, I actually built a pyramid home in Arkansas, which I lived in for a couple of years," said the father of five. "It was very, very energy efficient. I remember when it snowed, and there was about a foot of snow all over the house. The house was so warm and out of the three months of winter I only had to heat it for about a month. And in the summer it stayed very cool."

The Sierra Vista resident is no stranger to the world of inventing and engineering. Last year, Robertson came up with an idea called the Solar Tree, which he described as "an innovative, new solar-powered home-improvement product that will help lower utility bills." His invention, which looked like a tree, was designed to use solar power to heat water, a swimming pool, or to power lights, and it received a lot of interest. However, after later discovering several other similar products already on the market, Robertson decided to concentrate his efforts on his pyramid house. "It's still being developed. It's not at the point where I want it yet," he said. "There's a lot of things I want to change, following my previous experience of living in a pyramid house."[Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Tempe co-op buildings torn down to make way for high-rise

[Source: Katie Nelson, Arizona Republic] -- Stucco siding fell like cardboard with each swipe of an excavation truck's clawed arm. Chunks of building, shelving and retaining wall clattered to the ground, relegating the old Gentle Strength Co-op buildings to memories for organic food fans. The aging structures at the intersection of University Drive and Ash Avenue were demolished to make way for a 21-story condo complex and a corporate health-food store. The demolition last month was the first visible sign to the community that the Mosaic project is under way.

"It's kind of sad to see it go," said Chris Corwin, who was working at the new Gentle Strength Co-op location at Mill and Southern avenues during the demolition. "But it's a dual thing. Everyone is trying to focus on our new future here." Developers also are scheduled to rip out at least three smaller buildings near University Drive and Forest Avenue in the coming weeks. The work will clear land for a massive mixed-use building with three towers, called University Square. One of the Arches buildings will be torn down, as will the building that housed the Trophy Den, said Tony Wall, one of the project's developers. The entire block could be cleared as early as February, Wall said.

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

Historic Buckeye home may get builder's help

[Source: Kelly Carr, Arizona Republic] -- It's been months since the Raney House was moved onto Buckeye's historic main street, saving it from demolition. Now Verrado's developers may help the town rebuild the 115-year-old home, which sits on a raised platform waiting for a foundation, a new roof and a complete interior renovation. When finished, it will become the new offices for Buckeye's Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Coalition.

Originally, the project was scheduled to be finished for the holiday season. The coalition wanted to have Santa sitting on the front porch of the house for the town's annual celebration. But the intense job of moving such an old structure and converting it into commercial space hasn't been easy. Members of the Main Street Coalition now are hoping a potential partnership with DMB Associates, builders of Verrado, will get the plans for the house moving.

The coalition's president-elect, Karla Walters, said DMB recently expressed interest in helping renovate the Raney House as an effort to encourage revitalization in historic Buckeye. The agreement might fall under DMB's "Rebuilding Together" program, which helps refurbish homes. DMB and town officials will meet this week at the Raney House to discuss the project. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Thursday, January 04, 2007

2007 National Main Streets conference registration now open

On March 25-28, 2007, economic development and preservation-based community revitalization practitioners from all over the nation will gather in Seattle to share their expertise and proven strategies for building sustainable commercial districts. In addition to sessions that focus on the annual theme, the conference offers tutorials on the Main Street Four-Point Approach™, a proven strategy for comprehensive commercial district revitalization, as well as sessions on related topics ranging from fund raising, organizational development, volunteer recruitment, planning, and advocacy to marketing and business assistance. Online registration now available!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Call for Phoenix History Ball award nominations

Each year at the Phoenix History Ball, the Phoenix Museum of History honors individuals, families, businesses, and organizations that have made significant and enduring contributions to the history of our community. Last year’s honorees included local pioneers the Martin Gold Family, civil right’s activists Lincoln and Eleanor Ragsdale, and the law firm Fennemore Craig. The Phoenix History Ball raises essential funds to support the Phoenix Museum of History, who is celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2007.

The museum has opened the nomination process to the entire community by calling for nominations from the public. The public can nominate individuals/families and businesses/organizations in the following categories:
  • Pioneer person or family (whose roots in the Valley pre-date statehood-1912) who was important to the history of Phoenix.
  • Statehood person or family (whose roots post-date statehood) who was important to the history of Phoenix.
  • Organization or business that has made a significant contribution to the history of Phoenix.

Does your family have a remarkable history in the Valley? Want to see your business recognized for its contributions to the city? The nomination process is easy. A person simply needs to fill out a one-page nomination form that describes the nominee’s connection and contribution to Phoenix and the Salt River Valley. Nomination forms are available at the museum’s front desk or via email. For more information about the Ball, the nomination process, or to request a nomination form to be sent in the mail call 602-253-2734.

A nine-member committee of community volunteers and museum staff will review the nominations and select the final honorees. The honorees will receive their awards at a presentation honoring their contributions at the Phoenix History Ball, April 21, 2007 at the Ritz Carlton, 2401 East Camelback Road. Deadline for submitting nominations is January 10, 2007. Nominations must be postmarked on or before that date, delivered in person to the Phoenix Museum of History, or received by email or fax (602-253-2348) on that date.

Did you know?

Jan. 3, 2007. On this date in 1924, 117 automobiles stalled in the mud near Casa Grande. The vehicles had to be towed to the Southern Pacific railroad tracks, where they bumped over the ties for a mile and a half before reaching a stretch of road they could negotiate.