Monday, May 28, 2007

This Day in History

May 28, 1937 : GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE OPENS. Workmen on catwalks (pictured) constructing the Golden Gate Bridge, in 1935. The Golden Gate Bridge opened to vehicular traffic on this day in 1937. One of the world's largest single-span suspension bridges, the Golden Gate Bridge was designed by Clifford Paine. Paine submitted the final blueprints for approval in 1930. With the official design completed, it took over three years for the builders to attain the approval of the military, the city financiers, and the voting public. Construction of the bridge commenced on January 5, 1933. The bridge's aesthetics were influenced greatly by an assisting architect named Irving Morrow. Morrow had no experience building bridges, but he convinced Paine to adopt many of the Golden Gate's most striking features.

It was his idea for the portal bracings above the roadway to diminish in size as they climbed, thereby creating the effect of heightening the bridge. The height of the towers over the water is a breathtaking 746 feet, and the length of the suspended structure is 6,450 feet. Over 80,000 miles of wire went into the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. Morrow was also the driving force behind the bridge's striking color, international orange; he believed a warm color should be used to contrast with the cold tones of the surrounding land. The Golden Gate Bridge cost the community nearly $35 million during its five-year construction. Its name is derived from the body of water over which it spans, Golden Strait. The "gold" comes from the strait's location at the mouth of the North Bay, beyond which lies the gold of California. Other have mentioned that the Golden Gate Bridge is the Gateway to the Land of the Setting Sun, but they didn't mention this until nearly 30 years after the bridge was originally erected.

Jerome Council postpones vote on historic hotel

[Source: Philip Wright, Verde Independent] -- The rear wall of the historically significant Sullivan Hotel on Main Street in Jerome desperately needs structural support. About $250,000 worth of work and materials. During a recent Town Council meeting it looked as though that work would be paid for, in large part, with an Arizona State Parks Historic Preservation Grand. The grant would provide $150,000, and matching funds from the property owners, Mary Wills and Sally Dryer, would add the additional $100,000. It looked like a done deal. Now there is a major glitch. The council had been asked to pass Resolution 451, which would give approval for the town to serve as the grant sponsor and the town staff to manage the grant. When first presented to the council the grant was thought to be a pass through grant. With that agreement, the town would accept no liability and would be paid a fee from the grant to act as the grant sponsor.

In a special meeting Wednesday afternoon, the council learned that the grant is not a pass through and that the town would not receive any fees for sponsoring it. But the terms of the grant get worse from the perspective of the town and probably the property owners. To allow more time to digest the actual terms of the grant contract, the council decided to postpone action on the resolution until May 29 at 9 a.m. Mayor Bob Bouwman said the main reason for postponing action on the resolution is because of the changing commitments required of the town. "The town would have to be put on the property owners' deed for the next 30 years," Bouwman said. "The town has to agree to maintain the property if the property owners did not." Balt Lozano, town clerk, said the town must commit to maintaining the building for the 30-year term. "We must guarantee that the building will never be torn down," he said. Vice Mayor Jane Moore said there is just too much new information regarding the grant for the council to have proceeded Wednesday. "The grant writer isn't here," she said. At this time it isn't known how the council will react to accepting such financial liability for a grant given to private parties. Nor is it known if the property owners will be agreeable to having the town listed on their property deed. The Sullivan Hotel is an important historical building in Jerome because Jennie Bauters, a famous saloonkeeper and madam, built it in 1899.

State grant helps restore Phoenix's first synagogue

[Source: Beth Shapiro, Jewish News] -- The Arizona Jewish Historical Society will receive a $150,000 grant from the Arizona State Parks Board to renovate Phoenix's first synagogue, according to Lawrence Bell, AJHS executive director. The synagogue renovation is part of a $4 million campaign to restore the site, now known as the CutlerAPlotkin Jewish Heritage Center, as an educational center, a Jewish history museum, an archive, AJHS offices and a venue for community events. Located at 122 E. Culver St. in Phoenix's cultural corridor adjacent to the Burton Barr Phoenix Public Library, the facility housed Congregation Beth Israel from 1922 until 1949, when it was purchased by a Chinese Baptist church. Later, it was sold to Iglesia Bautista, a Mexican Baptist church. AJHS bought the property in 2002.

According to Vivia Strang, historic preservation grant consultant to the state parks board, the grant is drawn from the state's lottery revenues, which support the state parks' Heritage Fund for wildlife conservation and historic preservation. "It's a competitive grant program, and a great deal of emphasis is placed upon project planning and the public benefit," said Strang. To be eligible, a project has to be more than 50 years old and either on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, Strang said. No more than $150,000 can be awarded at one time, but applicants can request more funds for a later phase. Bell told Jewish News that AJHS received the highest rating of all applications for this funding cycle because of the quality of the application and the value and importance of the project to Arizona. "Right now, there is no Jewish site in downtown Phoenix. I think our site will do a great service for the community by providing a Jewish location in the heart of downtown and a place for people of all different backgrounds to come and visit and connect with our community. It will educate non-Jews about who we are and what we've done and how we've contributed to the state and to this country."

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo: Concept drawing of CutlerAPlotkin Jewish Heritage Center.]

Hohokam Temple Park still on Mesa’s wish list

[Source: Sarah N. Lynch, East Valley Tribune] -- Archaeologist Jerry Howard has dreamed for years of transforming the Mesa Grande ruins near Brown Road in Mesa into a park for the public. The site is home to the ancient temple grounds of the Hohokam Indians, and it’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Mesa has owned the land since 1985, and archaeologists and volunteers from the Mesa Southwest Museum have been studying and preserving the land for more than two decades. But today, there is still a lack of funding for the park and the plan remains in limbo. The proposal has sat on a waiting list of capital improvement projects for more than 21 years. “It’s our greatest accomplishment,” Howard said, referring to public ownership of the mound. “But it’s also our greatest pain.”

The holdup, as usual, is money. The city this year will apply for $600,000 in Indian casino funds to help get the overdue project off the ground. The money would be used to build interpretive trails, signs, shade shelters and to pay for a study that would lead to an educational visitors center, said Tom Wilson, director of the Mesa Southwest Museum. The park enhancements would cost $5 million or more. When finished, it would be similar to the Pueblo Grande public recreation site in Phoenix. Mesa and museum officials hope to someday build an environmentally friendly 30,000-square-foot visitors center with exhibits on the Hohokam tribe, trails, parking and restrooms. The problem is, Mesa has applied for the casino money twice before and was rejected both times. This will be the city’s third attempt to secure the money to build a Mesa Grande park. It is one of 18 projects Mesa will pitch to Indian tribes for grant consideration, said Jerry Dillehay, the city’s grants coordinator. Altogether, the projects would cost $9.7 million to complete. Mesa Grande is one of the few surviving platform mounds in the Valley. It is larger than a football field. Between 1000 and 1450 A.D., it served as a place of religious significance for the Hohokam tribe, according to museum officials.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Lisa Olson, East Valley Tribune.]

Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission acts on downtown Civic Space

On May 21, the City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously on the following recommendations regarding the development of the downtown civic space: that it should return the A.E. England Motor Company building to productive use with activated spaces as part of the initial park development project; that the quality of the redevelopment of the A.E. England Motor Company building should be as high as possible; that the significant historic features of A.E. England Motor Company building should be preserved, while allowing appropriate modifications to open up the building to the park and to accommodate possible LEED certification; that the overall park development should respect the historic character and context of the three historic buildings in or immediately adjacent to the downtown civic space; that the project should engage the City and ASU to come to resolution on the use of the A.E. England Motor Company building; and that all downtown civic space plans should refer to the three historic buildings by their historic names, i.e. "A.E. England Motor Company building" rather than "424 Building" and "PESD Administration Building" rather than "Means" Building.

Grand opening set for new Ajo School for artisans to live and work

[Source: Alicia Barrón, Fox 11 News] -- A new center for artisan housing and workspaces is opening its doors after undergoing extreme renovations in Ajo, Arizona. The grand opening of Curley School Artisan Housing is scheduled for May 29th. This project will have 30 units for artists to live in and work. The school will also include classrooms, workshops, an indoor and outdoor auditorium, a micro-enterprise center and a computer lab.

Among those scheduled to attend the grand opening ceremony is Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson, U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva who will be the keynote speaker, State Historic Preservation Office for Arizona State Parks James Garrison, and Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry among others. The Curley School was originally constructed in 1919 as a public school in Ajo. In 2003 the Pima County Board of Supervisors allocated $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for pre-development costs for converting the school into artisan lofts. In 2005 International Sonoran Desert Alliance (ISDA), a non-profit agency, secured additional funding from numerous sources to complete the project that cost over $9 million. The Curley School appears on the national register of historic places and qualifies as affordable housing units where artists of all mediums are welcome. For more information on the school, contact the International Sonoran Desert Alliance at (520) 387-6823.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Phoenix HP staff meets with Opus and Chase Bank to discuss 44th & Camelback property

[Source: Barbara Stocklin] -- On May 22, HP staff met with representatives from Chase Bank and Opus Development to discuss the potential for the proposed Opus new development project to incorporate historic site features, including palm trees, concrete mushrooms and concrete boomerang benches, into the new development project. It was agreed at the meeting that Opus would research further the possible in-site preservation, or possible temporary relocation and then re-installation of these features and report back to the City with the results in the next few weeks. [Photo source: Walt Lockley.]

Tucson architectural historian speaks out against the use of historical reconstruction

[Source: R. Brooks Jeffery, Daily Star] -- I am against the reconstruction of the Convento (and the Presidio wall) because it is inauthentic. The exact location of the Convento is not known, the building materials and construction systems will not be authentic to the original 18th-century building, and the spatial experience of the building will be compromised due to contemporary accessibility standards, not to mention other code requirements, such as fire sprinklers and air conditioning. All that will be left is a full-scale model of the building — a Disneyland-esque icon representing the political and economic values of the 21st century more than the cultural and technological values of the 18th century. David Yubeta, the pre- eminent adobe restoration expert who works for the National Park Service's Tumacácori National Monument and who coined the term "designer ruin," was asked to work on these projects for the city of Tucson. He told me that he chose not to, because the projects were not incorporating authentic building materials, nor construction techniques appropriate for their historic period.

He's not the only person who feels this way. The National Park Service and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) have codified standards that dismiss reconstruction outright due primarily to issues of authenticity. If these internationally recognized agencies don't support the reconstruction of historic monuments, why should the city of Tucson? I am a dedicated preservationist and I do want to honor the Convento site in a way that is appropriate to interpret Tucson's pluralistic heritage. In this site's richly layered history, I'm also afraid that the story of the Convento's slow demise and ultimate demolition by a generation more concerned with city building than the preservation of our heritage will not be told, thus condemning future generations to repeat its action (e.g., Marist College and Tumamoc Hill). I don't believe you need to rebuild a full-scale model of a building to interpret and honor that history. In the same way that, thanks to the Vietnam Memorial, we don't need to build statuary monuments to honor the casualties of war. The architectural firm for the Convento project is more than capable of creating a contemporary landscape that honors, informs and interprets this complex site without reconstructing a building. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Public record archives may leave Mohave County

[Source: Jennifer Bartlett, Kingman Daily Miner] -- When the new state archive repository is completed next fall, Mohave County public archives could find a new home. Public record archives currently stored at the Mohave Museum of History and Arts are tentatively set to travel to the new repository at the Arizona State Library in Phoenix, Museum Director Shannon Rossiter said. An early 20th century law requires public records to either be stored by the county government or by the Arizona State Library, according to Melanie Sturgeon, state archives director. Her staff routinely makes visits to the various counties who keep their own archives to ensure they are being kept properly, she said.

On one such visit, she said museum staff said they were aware that they shouldn't technically be keeping the archives and asked if the archives should move once the new building was completed. They are currently discussing the potential move, Sturgeon said. If the archives move, Sturgeon said the State Library would be responsible for the transfer. She explained that when the state archives were first being put together in 1937, officials were horrified to find that permanent records were being disbursed and lost. At that time, the Legislature looked into how records should be used and stored to ensure they would be around for hundreds of years. It created a law whereby only the county where the documents originated and the State Library could authenticate the records. For years, the museum has stored the county archives. While they cannot authenticate the records, the museum has seen that they are stored in ideal conditions to protect them. Volunteers wear cloth gloves to protect papers from body oils. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Thursday, May 24, 2007

In 30 years, Mesa museum becomes focal point for fossils

[Source: Sarah N. Lynch, Tribune] -- Mesa Southwest Museum was born inside a single room in the old city hall building in 1977. It only had one employee to oversee its exhibits. There were no moving dinosaurs or towering bones of a Tyrannosaurus bataar in the lobby. But despite its humble beginnings, the institution at 53 N. Macdonald has evolved from a one-room exhibit into one of the premier natural history research museums in Arizona. It houses fossils that have made scientific history. It helped Mesa acquire the mound of a Hohokam temple that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. And while budget cuts forced the museum to cut its staff in half, it has managed to survive, with its most recent success involving the excavation of one of the most complete Rhynchotherium skeletons ever found. This Friday, the museum will celebrate its 30th anniversary. The public is invited to celebrate and reflect on the institution’s history.

“It’s been tremendous,” said Jerry Howard, the curator of anthropology. “We’ve gone from what was a small, local museum before the (2000) expansion to a major museum. We’ve doubled our space.... As a result, our visitation has quadrupled.” The museum was the brainchild of the Mesa Historical and Archaeological Society, a group that wanted to create a space to honor Mesa’s history, Howard said. The city was excited by the prospect of a local museum and agreed to sponsor it. Over time, it acquired more of the city hall building as other departments left seeking larger quarters. Since its inception, it has undergone two expansions, including a $4.5 million addition in 2000. The museum was similar to others in neighboring cities, except for one thing — it always emphasized the importance of archaeology, which allowed it to evolve into a natural history research museum, said Robert McCord, the curator of paleontology. “Most cities have pure historical museums, and I think that was a little unusual,” he said. “In the early years, (archaeology) was our mission and that allowed us a certain flexibility. We had a drive to be bigger and try exhibits on a wide array of topics.” But what changed the museum’s focus to natural history was the addition of two popular exhibits.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Leigh Shelle Robertus, Tribune.]

Jerome residents meet to discuss historic preservation issues

[Source: Philip Wright] -- Bob Frankeberger (pictured), architect for the State Historic Preservation Office, met informally in a workshop with members of the Jerome Town Council, Planning and Zoning Commission, Board of Adjustments, Design Review, Jerome Historical Society and town staff. Frankeberger said that following a historic preservation program boils down to "specifically what the duties are of Design Review." He said that in the other 27 cities or towns in Arizona with preservation programs, their ordinances specify three duties for Design Review. The first is to identify historical properties. The second duty is to designate those identified properties, and the third is to protect the properties through Design Review.

Frankeberger said there is no language in Jerome's ordinance that tells how properties are identified and designated. "I don't know if you've been legal," he said. "Design review can be very subjective unless it has some ground rules," he said. He explained that the ground rules must be enforceable. "The design guidelines have to parallel the national and state programs." The basic process of using Design Review to follow the town's intentions for preservation come into play primarily through ruling on building permits and demolition permits. "That's about it," Frankeberger said. Vice Mayor Jane Moore said that Jerome's ordinance says the town uses the guidelines of the U.S. Secretary of Interior's standards. "Rather than design guidelines," Frankeberger said, "try to be more quantitative in ordinances." He said that concept is new in the design process and is called "Form Based Ordinances. It becomes a little bit more formal and more enforceable." Frankeberger told the audience that historical preservation involves four different treatments: restoration, rehabilitation, preservation and stabilization. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

How will Arizona grow? That's up to all of us says UA economist

[Source: Ann Brown, Daily Star] -- Talking about growth is a stroll through a garden of flowers and weeds. The stunning prospects of prosperity fed by newcomers can be choked by misinterpreted data and lack of public policy. Economists and public officials exposed 57 Western-state journalists and association executives to the thorns of growth Friday during "Covering Growth in the West," an educational symposium held at the Star. Here are a few tidbits from the symposium that might spark community conversation:

  • Arizona has been one of the fastest-growing states in the nation for more than 100 years. No one forecasts a reversal in that trend. Population growth will be a constant — how our state grows is up to us through public policies.
  • The possibility of a better life is what has attracted new residents to the West since the wagons left St. Louis and will continue to drive population here, said University of Arizona economist Marshall Vest, director of the Economic and Business Research Center at the UA's Eller College of Management. A warm climate, few natural disasters, relatively inexpensive housing, job availability and low taxes draw new residents here. However, Arizona has a reputation as a state of "haves" and "have-nots," with a mediocre workforce, a troubled school system and a poor quality of life.
  • The state has a high rate of population churn — people moving in and out of the state. It is difficult to develop sensible, sustainable public policy when a quarter of the population wasn't here five years ago, said Vest. Many newcomers don't know the history and culture of the community and may not be fully engaged or invested. However, that churn also means there are fresh ideas. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Rio Nuevo's latest plan: $100M science center

[Source: Tom Beal, Daily Star] -- A $100 million Science Center with planetarium, Imax-style theater, permanent exhibits and space for traveling national exhibits would anchor the cultural plaza of Rio Nuevo under the latest plan sent to the Tucson City Council by City Manager Mike Hein on Thursday. The Science Center would share space with a $30 million Arizona State Museum of anthropology on the east side of the cultural plaza, along the banks of the Santa Cruz River south of West Congress Street. The city would foot the entire $130 million cost. On the west side of the cultural plaza the city would build:

  • An $80 million Arizona History Museum, which would house historical exhibits, the offices of the Arizona Historical Society and an "e-library" with 100-150 computer terminals and some books and other materials. The city would contribute $50 million to those two programs.
  • A $20 million Tucson Children's Museum, with the city footing half the cost.

Hein also asked the council to commit:

  • $102 million for an arena, expansion of the Tucson Convention Center and a convention hotel.
  • $170 million for parking, infrastructure and streetscape improvements Downtown.

The plan was given a unanimous and enthusiastic endorsement Thursday by members of the City Council's Rio Nuevo/Downtown Subcommittee, which includes council members Jose Ibarra, Steve Leal and Nina Trasoff. The full council will review the plan Tuesday. Leal said he was never sure he would be in his seat when Rio Nuevo's musical-chair game stopped. "I'm relieved," he said, "and I'm so excited." Ibarra said he had favored the grander plans for a Science Center but was happy that "we're finally going to bring the U of A to the neighborhood." Interesting the children of Tucson in math and science is the most important aspect of the plan, he said. "All of a sudden it's like it's all coming together," said Trasoff. She added that "it's important to note we're not committing every penny," after Rio Nuevo Director Greg Shelko told the council that about 9 percent of the total remained to be doled out. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

APF extends deadline for 2007 Most Endangered Places nominations

Nominate a property and help in the effort to preserve Arizona's Most Endangered Historic Places! The Arizona Preservation Foundation is now accepting nominations for our 2007 Most Endangered Historic Places list. Compiled by preservation professionals and historians, the list identifies critically endangered properties of major historical or archaeological significance to the state. Properties selected for the Most Endangered Historic Places list will receive the Foundation’s assistance in developing support to remove the threat. The list will be announced at a press conference during the 5th Annual Arizona Statewide Historic Preservation Conference, June 15-18, 2007 in Prescott, AZ.

To apply, email to receive a nomination form (Microsoft Word file) and submit one hard or digital copy on disk or via email of the completed form with all supporting materials to: Arizona Preservation Foundation, P.O. Box 13492, Phoenix, AZ 85002 or Completed nominations must be received electronically or postmarked by May 23, 2007. A separate application form must be submitted for each nominated property. Selections will be made based on their significance as determined by the Foundation.

To be considered for our 2007 list, there must be a degree of endangerment by owner neglect, proposed demolition, rezoning, redevelopment, or other human or environmental factors. Additionally, the property must be listed on or be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, our state historic register, or a local register. Visit the Endangered Places section to view the Foundation’s 2006 Most Endangered Historic Places list. [Photo: APF 2006 Endangered Property, Geronimo Station, Geronimo.]

Sunday, May 20, 2007

This Day in History

May 20, 1862: UNION CONGRESS PASSES HOMESTEAD ACT. The Union Congress passes the Homestead Act, allowing an adult over the age of 21, male or female, to claim 160 acres of land from the public domain. Eligible persons had to cultivate the land and improve it by building a barn or house, and live on the claim for five years, at which time the land became theirs with a $10 filing fee. The government of the United States had long wrestled with the problem of how to get land into the hands of productive farmers. Throughout the 19th century, politicians had pursued a variety of schemes to raise revenues from land sales, but the results were always mixed.

By the 1830s, Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton proposed a program that would allow citizens to claim land from the public domain to develop farmland. By 1890, only about three percent of the lands west of the Mississippi had been given away under the act. This measure was far less effective in making vacant land productive than were liberal mining laws and grants to railroads. Nevertheless, it stands as a shining example of legislation that passed in the North while the South had seceded from the Union.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Tucson's Presidio re-creation set to open

[Sourcec: Teya Vitu, Tucson Citizen] -- The history of downtown comes full circle this weekend with the dedication of the $2.8 million Presidio San Agustín del Tucson, the first finished artifact for Tucson Origins Heritage Park. The rebuilt half-acre of adobe-brick presidio at Washington Street and Church Avenue is an homage to the presidio that emerged on that spot from 1776 to 1783. This version telescopes several features spanning different eras onto a half-acre patch. The 1780s torreón (tower) stands a few feet from an 1830s Mexican-era streetscape. In between is a small hole in the ground evincing a 2,000-year-old pit house. The adobe bricks come as close to authentic as modern building codes allow. "We matched the adobe as much as we could for texture, color and size," said Eric Means, president at Means Design and Building Corp., which rebuilt the presidio. "Mexico still has 1700s buildings. We copied those."

The Means team also studied the remains of presidio wall foundations. It learned that the Spanish used two methods to craft the 22-by-11-inch bricks. One had a brick made in a form on the ground, and then the brick was lifted into place; the other had the mud poured into a form in place on the wall. The adobe composition matched the 18th-century brick (except that cement was added to stabilize the adobe): 50 percent sand, 25 percent clay and the rest silt and straw. Tucson Adobe in Marana crafted the bricks, which re-create the whimsy of different colors used in the original walls. Beyond that, presidio proponents and designers had to draw on imagination because no records exist regarding what the presidio looked like. Artist Bill Singleton translated all that imagination into a 53-by-13-foot mural that gives a snapshot of presidio life. Means cut six embrasures (gun slots) at the top of the torreón walls. "We have no idea if they had embrasures or not," Means said. The torreón is 20 feet high. Means rebuilt the torreón a few feet east of the original tower, for which foundations for the 44-inch-thick walls still exist. Across a presidio entryway, Means built a 15-by-30-foot barracks that would have housed about a dozen soldiers. Boards are built into the wall to create little shelves. The ceiling is river hardwood with saguaro ribs, topped with 4 to 12 inches of mud. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Impact of Northwest Corridor Light Rail discussed between Valley Metro and Phoenix HP staff

[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] -- On May 11, City of Phoenix Historic Preservation (HP) Office staff met with representatives from Valley Metro to discuss previous commitments that Valley Metro and the City have made to the Historic Preservation Commission regarding impacts of the Northwest Corridor extension of light rail on historic properties. Because the plans have changed since they were last presented to the Commission, Valley Metro agreed to return to the Commission in September or early fall 2007 to provide an update.

Tribes set to battle Federal Government on eagles' status

[Source: Kate Nolan, Arizona Republic] -- Federal wildlife authorities may face lawsuits from Indian tribal leaders in Arizona who are upset over the handling of their views on the proposed delisting of bald eagles as endangered species. Tribal leaders walked out of a Wednesday session at Cabela's in Glendale, threatened legal action and affirmed their unified opposition to taking the bald eagles off the list. Benjamin Tuggle, Southwest regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, invited 13 Arizona tribes to the hearing after the tribes charged they hadn't been consulted on the issue. The San Carlos Apaches had passed a resolution against delisting. The bald eagle is sacred to many Native Americans, and 20 percent of the animals' 50 breeding areas in Arizona are on Indian land.

Tuggle called the meeting so tribes could express concerns and he could clarify the eagle delisting process, which Fish and Wildlife first proposed in 1999. After Tuggle acknowledged that the delisting decision was beyond the scope of his regional office, tribal leaders increasingly questioned whether their comments would have any impact. Tuggle said the decision would be based entirely on scientific findings. Paul Schmidt, a Fish and Wildlife official from Washington, D.C., explained that the agency would protect bald eagles if they are delisted, but his comments stirred debate about why he wasn't specifically addressing Arizona's bald eagle population of 43 breeding pairs. The Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity and Maricopa Audubon have sued the government, making a case that Arizona's eagles are an endangered population segment apart from the 20,000 eagles in the rest of the country that appear to have recovered after being decimated by pesticides in the 1950s. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

NAU's research into preserving orchards bears fruit

[Source: Associated Press] -- Wolf River. Rome Beauty. Baldwin. Arkansas Black. And, of course, the Red and Yellow Delicious. Slide Rock State Park in Oak Creek Canyon isn't just about swimming, sliding and sunning. The park, which is the site of the Pendley family homestead, has a number of historic buildings and apple orchards. "The reason historical trees are interesting is because the industrialization of agriculture took the place of local home-growers,'' said Kanin Routson, a graduate student at Northern Arizona University specializing in environmental sciences and policy. Routson's specialty is fruit-bearing trees, and he has been working on helping Slide Rock State Park officials preserve the orchards.

Of the more than a dozen varieties of apples that used to exist in the orchards, only six remain, Routson said. Varieties were lost by fire, or drought or other natural causes. Northern Arizona University, through the work of the Center for Sustainable Environments, has been attempting to help preserve the remaining historical apple trees. The importance of preserving apple varieties centers on disease, Routson said. For instance, if there is only one kind of apple available worldwide, and a disease that targets that specific apple tree kills all the trees, apples will cease to exist. The more varieties of apples, the less a chance of losing apples to time. Routson said that before the 1930s, there were more than 14,000 apple varieties available worldwide. Only about 10 percent of the apple varieties exist today. The reason for the reduction is finding a consistently good-tasting, hearty variety that would sell well at market, Routson said. No longer were apples sought for specialties _ like one apple for making cider, and another apple for making apple pie. At the park, the largest volume of trees _ about 200 of the 300 _ bear Red Delicious apples. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Proposition 207 hinders historic preservation in Scottsdale

[Lindsay Butler, Tribune] -- Three years ago, Scottsdale started a program to preserve its 1950s neighborhoods, hoping to tell the story of postwar life in the city. In 2005, two neighborhoods were placed on the city’s historic register, and Scottsdale was on its way to approving a third neighborhood as well as one of the city’s oldest shopping districts. Those plans are now being hobbled by a new law that gives property owners the right to sue if a government action reduces the value of a property. The law was created by Proposition 207, which was approved by voters in November. “With Prop. 207, we’re dead in the water,” said Debbie Abele, Scottsdale historic preservation officer. Abele said efforts across the state are facing obstacles. Most supporters of historic preservation argue that it increases property values. But some disagree, claiming such a designation places too many restrictions on home construction and takes away the right of homeowners to improve their property.

The possibility of litigation is having a chilling effect on historic preservation programs. “Everybody is afraid at this point,” said Ken Strobeck, executive director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns. “Anyone can sue over pretty much anything.” In order to avoid a lawsuit, many Valley cities are requiring property owners to sign forms waiving their right to compensation in the event the value goes down. For instance, Mesa now requires every homeowner in a neighborhood to sign a waiver to achieve historic designation, said Stephanie Bruning, historic preservation officer. “If 100 percent is not signed, staff will recommend denial,” she said. “It’s up to the City Council to make the final decision.” In the meantime, Bruning said she is trying to educate Mesa residents on the benefits of owning historic property. “It doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. It doesn’t freeze it in time,” she said. Some say the restrictions are far from flexible. “What I don’t agree with is the city is coming in and forcing everyone in the neighborhood to freeze the value of the property. They can no longer do what they want,” said state Sen. Chuck Gray, R-Mesa. “Who wants to buy that house knowing they can’t restore it? It dampens investments in the neighborhood.”

Other historic programs are trying to decide how many waivers should be required for designation. Phoenix is working on a policy that would require 80 percent of residents to be on board, said Kevin Weight, lead historic preservation planner in Phoenix. “Right before Proposition 207 passed, the historic preservation commission needed to have the petition signed by two-thirds of property owners,” he said. Scottsdale is moving forward to designate the 1950s neighborhood Scottsdale Estates 4 and the downtown Fifth Avenue shopping district — but just a little more slowly. “A number of neighborhoods have approached us,” said city historic preservation director Bob Cafarella. “We will work with them and get as many waivers signed as possible and approach the City Council.” But how many waivers it would take to gain council approval and move the process forward is unknown. “Do we need to show that 80 percent of homeowners have signed off? Do we need 100? Fifty? That’s what we’re all talking about,” he said.

Mayo Clinic sells Brusally Ranch to developer

[Source: Ari Cohn, Tribune] -- The sun is setting on Brusally Ranch, a centerpiece of Scottsdale’s horse history. Some, including a member of the family that started it, are upset the ranch has been sold off to developers who plan to build houses on the land. Others, like neighbor Larry Heath, want to make sure it’s preserved. “To have this be the end of its lifespan seems to be a bit of a tragedy to me,” Heath said. Many Arabian horses can trace their lineage back to those bred at Brusally Ranch by Ed Tweed, the founder and first president of the state’s Arabian Horse Association. Only six acres of the original 160-acre ranch remain. Tweed’s daughter donated the family home, on 84th Street north of Cholla Street, to the Mayo Clinic in the mid-1990s. Since 1999, recipients of organ transplants at the clinic have spent time recuperating there. The 6,000-square-foot Spanish colonial-style ranch home is known as the Arizona Transplant House.

Shelley Trevor, Tweed’s granddaughter, said she is not happy about the sale. “My mother had given it to the Mayo Clinic to be used for charitable means,” she said. “But money always wins, I guess.” The house is no longer large enough to accommodate the number of patients seeking to stay there, said Tom Davie, executive director. The nonprofit’s current facility houses patients from the Mayo Clinic who are recuperating from kidney, liver, heart, pancreas or bone marrow transplants. The transplant house, in return, asks $25 a night for room and board, if the patient can afford it. “We provide lodging for patients and their caregivers, both pre- and post-transplant,” Davie said. “We’ve served several thousand patients in those years.” The facility, however, only has seven rooms. So the decision was made to move to a new location to be built at the Mayo Clinic’s Phoenix campus at 56th Street and Mayo Boulevard.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo: Barn at Brusally Ranch.]

This Day in History

May 13, 1607 : JAMESTOWN FOUNDED. Some 100 English colonists settle along the west bank of the James River in Virginia to found Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America. After only two weeks, Jamestown came under attack from warriors from the local Algonquian Native American confederacy, but the Indians were repulsed by the armed settlers. In December of the same year, John Smith and two other colonists were captured by Algonquians while searching for provisions in the Virginia wilderness. His companions were killed, but he was spared, according to a later account by Smith, because of the intercession of Pocahontas, Chief Powhatan's daughter. During the next two years, disease, starvation, and more Native American attacks wiped out most of the colony, but the London Company continually sent more settlers and supplies.

The severe winter of 1609 to 1610, which the colonists referred to as the "starving time," killed most of the Jamestown colonists, leading the survivors to plan a return to England in the spring. However, on June 10, Thomas West De La Warr, the newly appointed governor of Virginia, arrived with supplies and convinced the settlers to remain at Jamestown. In 1612, John Rolfe cultivated the first tobacco at Jamestown, introducing a successful source of livelihood. On April 5, 1614, Rolfe married Pocahontas, thus assuring a temporary peace with Chief Powhatan. The death of Powhatan in 1618 brought about a resumption of conflict with the Algonquians, including an attack led by Chief Opechancanough in 1622 that nearly wiped out the settlement. The English engaged in violent reprisals against the Algonquians, but there was no further large-scale fighting until 1644, when Opechancanough led his last uprising and was captured and executed at Jamestown. In 1646, the Algonquian Confederacy agreed to give up much of its territory to the rapidly expanding colony, and, beginning in 1665, its chiefs were appointed by the governor of Virginia.

NMSU facility digs up national honor

[Source: NMSU Sun-News] -- The New Mexico State University Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center, also known as the college ranch, has been used as a place to test border security technologies and to conduct research on ecology, range science and livestock. Now the ranch has added another distinction. The Summerford Mountain Archaeological District that lies within the ranch's boundaries has been named to the National Register of Historic Places. "This is the first time that any site on the college ranch has been put on the National Register," said Beth O'Leary, NMSU associate professor of anthropology.

More than 350 petroglyphs (etched into the rock) or pictographs (painted on the rock), arrowheads, pottery and other artifacts have been found at 12 prehistoric rock art sites in the archaeological district, O'Leary said, asking that the exact locations not be revealed because of possible looting or vandalism. Furthermore, the sites can be excavated and Carbon-14 dating used to give a better insight into the history of the people who lived in the area between 5000 B.C. and A.D. 1400. "We're on the border in the Jornada Mogollon cultural area that includes the Mimbres area, too," O'Leary said. "So there was a lot of movement back and forth of prehistoric people in the Deming area, the Mimbres, the Gila, through here, and into Mexico. These sites reflect that. There are images that are found in Mexico, around Casas Grandes, and brought into the Southwest. "We nominated the district to the National Register because it is a significant area that documents the migrations of people into and from the Southwest. The Anasazi start a little north of Truth or Consequences. The Kachina cult, which Pueblos embrace as their religion, came through the Mogollon and Jornada area. And we can see the beginning of Pueblo religion in the rock art sites, too."

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

Phoenix HP staff meets to discuss St. Paul's Preparatory Academy

[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] -- At the request of Councilman Greg Stanton, Historic Preservation staff met with Hal Elliott, headmaster of St. Paul's Preparatory Academy, on May 1 to discuss the Academy's plans for a 1930s house located near the southwest corner of 30th Street and Fairmount Avenue in Phoenix. Initially, the Academy indicated they would demolish the existing building and replace it with a new dormitory structure, but they are now considering rehabilitating the existing structure and building the dormitory on an adjacent parcel. Jeff Covill, an associate of the headmaster, also attended the meeting and indicated that he was working with a developer, Desert Viking, who specializes in rehabilitation of historic buildings. Desert Viking will provide cost estimates for rehabilitating the 1930s house, which appears to be eligible for listing on the Phoenix Historic Property Register. If rehabilitation appears to be feasible, the Academy may request historic designation and a Demonstration Project grant for the property.

Old Town Scottsdale looks forward to its past

[Source: Stephanie Berger, East Valley Tribune] -- There’s history hidden within downtown Scottsdale’s posh hotels, swanky bars and eclectic Western shops, and the city wants residents and tourists to find it. As part of a trend to honor local history, officials on Monday began tacking up new posters in downtown kiosks showing the area’s historic buildings and other features (pictured). The posters continue a theme of the city touting its history for residents and tourists. Scottsdale recently designated two neighborhoods as historic, including a cluster of ’50s-era apartment buildings west of downtown. It also pushed to list the Hotel Valley Ho on city’s historic register. One of the goals is for visitors to enjoy the city’s history in addition to its sunny weather and Western charm. Scottsdale markets itself as a Western mecca with a distinctive past.

“The historic angle really helps give Scottsdale a sense of place,” said Laura McMurchie, Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau vice president of communications. “There are resorts and interesting shopping areas everywhere in the world, but history really grounds Scottsdale’s offering as being particularly unique.” In Old Town, at the entrance to Civic Center Mall at Main Street and Brown Avenue, visitors can pick up walking tour brochures that give them a guide to historic locations downtown. The spots include the “Little Red Schoolhouse,” the site of the current Scottsdale Historical Museum. “My parents went to school in the Little Red Schoolhouse,” said JoAnn Handley, the museum’s manager. “A lot of people go into a city and they like to know about the history when they visit,” she added.

That’s no surprise to John Dant, a retiree who volunteers at the Civic Center’s visitor cart and often offers brochures and history lessons. When asked for a “Southwestern lunch spot” on a recent afternoon, Dant told the tale of Los Olivos Mexican Patio, a Mexican restaurant established more than 50 years ago by the Corral family. “That’s exactly what I’m looking for,” said Shelly Murray, of Gaithersburg, Md. “Whenever I go somewhere, I want to find places that you’re not going to have back at home.” [Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Paul O'Neill.]

Tranquil ruins at Homol'ovi mark an ancient past that endures

[Source: Ron Dungan, Arizona Republic] -- You can see for miles on Arizona 87 as it comes down the flats of the Hopi Reservation. The mesas fall behind, miles go by and the road vanishes into the horizon until a few hills push up from the earth. The Hopi called this place Homol'ovi, which means "place of the little hills." Their ancestors came here about 1260 to make a life on the edge of the Little Colorado River, building homes of stone and planting crops. Homolovi Ruins State Park doesn't have the large structures and towers found at some archaeological parks. Most of the walls have crumbled. Wind and rain have worn them down until only a few stones remain. You look at the rubble, read the signs along the way and look out at the land. The walls and the land tell stories that archaeologists try to piece together.

Each summer they conduct classes, digging until they have exposed more of the walls, then covering up their work. The Hopi feel strong ties to Homol'ovi and visit often. Tribal members hold cultural workshops in the park; several are planned in the upcoming months. Artists will demonstrate their crafts, speakers will address subjects ranging from medicinal herbs to dry farming. On July 7, Suvoyuki Day will feature a corn roast, a 2K and 5K run at sunrise and a program by Hopi dancers. Archaeologists and tribal members will be on hand. The celebration is a joint effort of the Hopi people, Arizona State Parks, and the Homolovi Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society. Although the area shows signs of small-scale use as early as 600, it became a gathering place in the 1200s as villages in the Four Corners began to collapse. The park has two ruins, Homol'ovi I and II, for visitors to examine, although eight ruins scattered throughout the area once comprised the site. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Boulder covered with petroglyphs stolen near Yuma

[Source: Associated Press] -- A boulder bearing Indian petroglyphs several hundred years old has been stolen from federal land near Yuma, authorities said Thursday. "We know the boulder was there a few months ago because the area was monitored by an Arizona site steward,'' said Sandra Arnold, an archaeologist for the Bureau of Land Management. The boulder, estimated at 500 pounds, was about 8 inches thick, 16 inches wide and 24 inches long, said Keith Dorsey, a BLM law enforcement ranger. As with many archaeological sites, its exact location is confidential to deter vandalism.

"It was quite obvious by the tracks that someone dragged the boulder to their vehicle and left the area,'' Dorsey said. Petroglyphs are designs or figures that have been pecked or scratched into rock surfaces. Many Indian groups consider them just as important today as they were hundreds of years ago. "This is their written history,'' Dorsey said. Dorsey said there is a $500 reward for information leading to the boulder's return. Anyone with information regarding the artifact can call him at 928-317-3212.

Key challenges mount against Yuma refinery plan

[Source: Ken Alltucker, Arizona Republic] -- A federal judge has ordered a temporary halt to construction or other land-disturbing activity on acreage near Yuma that could become home to the nation's first oil refinery in three decades. A tribal lawsuit and the judge's order are the latest obstacles for plans for the new refinery in Arizona. The nation's critical shortage of refining capacity is one factor that has led to higher prices at the pump as fuel companies increasingly are forced to import finished gasoline to meet the nation's thirst for fuel. For the Quechan Tribe, which filed the suit, the problem isn't the refinery but the cultural artifacts that may be disturbed.

Its lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, claims the federal government did an inadequate environmental review of artifacts and cultural resources before transferring the land. The 3,500-member tribe wants to "prevent further destruction of Quechan cultural sites and resources" and force the federal government to follow environmental- and historic-preservation laws that govern such land transfers, tribal attorney Frank Jozwiak said. "Once the tribe is satisfied that its historical and cultural interests are identified and appropriate steps are in place to protect and preserve those interests . . . the tribe will not oppose the land transfer or the refinery," Jozwiak said. Arizona Clean Fuels Yuma has been attempting to build the refinery for more than a decade. Backers say the late March purchase of the 1,460-acre chunk of land near Tacna, about 40 miles east of Yuma, shows that the long-planned refinery project has made progress. Arizona Clean Fuels has secured a federal air-quality permit needed to build a 150,000-barrel-per-day refinery, the first new U.S. refinery project to obtain such a permit in 30 years. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tempe's architectural heritage at risk

[Source: Vince Murray, Arizona Republic] --Two and a half months ago, Arizona State University removed the golden geodesic dome from a former bank building and razed the rest of the structure. Now, the building (pictured) is gone and one would think that was the end of the controversy. However, there is more to the story than most people know and certainly more that they should. Though it seemed at the time to be a local issue, one confined to the Southeast Valley, all Arizonans should be concerned about the issues that led to the day ASU demolished the former Valley National Bank building at Rural Road and Apache Boulevard. With the recent restoration of Old Main and other properties on campus, most advocates for historic preservation thought ASU had changed course from the legacy it set in 1986 when it disassembled the Frankenburg House to build a new Architecture College. The home sat in storage for years until it was reassembled on another site.

ASU had often asserted that it wanted to be more holistic in its dealings with the community - specifically the citizens of Tempe - and everyone looked forward to them doing so. Then, in 2004, the drive-through First National Bank building at University Drive and Mill Avenue was demolished. In this earlier case of old bank versus New American University, we were told the university planned to build an Art and Business Gateway at the site. After a review by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), it was determined that the integrity of the motor bank had been altered enough that it was ineligible for the National Register of Historic Places and therefore not officially "historic." This descriptive appellation is important because an individual can consider anything historic, but for it to be historic in the eyes of the state, it must have some determination as such by the SHPO. The SHPO, in turn, uses standards based on federal historic preservation laws. Usually one of these requirements is that the building be at least 50 years old. However, in the case of the former Valley National Bank building, or the nearby Gammage Auditorium, age isn't as much of a factor as architecture and location. In fact, Gammage was built two years after the bank and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1985.

ASU: bank in the way
According to ASU's Comprehensive Development Plan, one of the planning principals for the Tempe campus is to "create a campus which is responsive to the unique history, place, climate and sustainability of our region." These were just words, though, for in this same document ASU subtly detailed how the Valley National Bank building -- the epitome of the unique history, place, climate and sustainability of Tempe -- was to be replaced by a residential life complex. Almost two years later, ASU notified the SHPO the former bank building, which the university had been using as a visitors center for the last two decades, was in the way of progress. ASU asked the SHPO what measures it needed to take to deal with the building that was in the new Barrett Honors College's "potential area of effect." This is important, because Arizona Revised Statutes requires state agencies such as ASU to consider existing historic structures in their undertakings. While it can be expected that not all historic buildings will be preserved under this law, it was written with the intention that state agencies will at least try to save the cultural resources under their control.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Walt Lockley.]

This Day in History

May 10,1869: TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD COMPLETED. Today, a golden spike was driven in at Promontory, Utah, to link the First Transcontinental Railroad. This joined the Union Pacific Railroad, running east to Omaha, and the Central Pacific, running west to California. "The long-looked for moment has arrived," a dispatch from May 10, 1869, read in The New York Herald. "The inhabitants of the Atlantic board and the dwellers on the Pacific slope are henceforth emphatically one people." The event was a turning point in American history, opening up the West and truly making the United States a coast–to–coast nation. Although the completion of the railroad was celebrated on May 10, it did not actually reach the Pacific Ocean until later in the year. On May 10, the rails stretched to Sacramento, where passengers were transferred to river steamers on their way to San Francisco.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Preservation, Growth Plans Must Dovetail

[Source: Daily Star] -- Members of the City Council must give serious thought to how they want Tucson's neighborhoods to evolve. With the area's population growing and the amount of usable land diminishing, it will take a sensitive eye and a creative hand to blend the old with the new in a manner that enhances urban living. We saw the beginning of this shift in urban design in recent months as city planning officials grappled with a controversial attempt to limit the creation of "mini-dorms" in neighborhoods near the University of Arizona. The conflicts are a reflection of shifting demographics and changing economics. The noise and activity level in neighborhoods adjacent to the university inevitably changed as the student population grew to roughly 40,000. The neighborhoods also changed because the university is a ripe market for retailers and for those who own rental property. Some property owners built additions and larger homes that ended up being, in essence, miniature dorms. These places don't violate existing zoning regulations, but they change the character of older and once-tranquil neighborhoods where most homes were owner-occupied.

More students crammed into mini-dorms meant more late-night parties, more noise, more cars competing for limited parking, and a qualitative change in the ambience of the area. Absentee landlords raked in rent and were happy, while residents living in owner-occupied homes grew increasing unhappy. The city's initial remedy was to create an amendment to the land-use code that would create an "overlay" zone. It essentially said that existing zoning for a neighborhood would remain unchanged, but within a portion of a neighborhood the residents could choose to establish different conditions governing, for example, architectural styles or the size of setbacks (the distances between the property line and a structure). In a way, the overlay zone would create a village within a village. That change ran into problems because initially the process of creating the overlay zone, or Neighborhood Preservation Zone, NPZ, could be launched if only 25 percent of the property owners signed a petition requesting it. The residents could not establish the NPZ with 25 percent, but that amount allowed them to begin the process that might lead to one. The City Council would have the final say. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Napolitano Unveils New Quarter Design

[Source: Associated Press] -- Gov. Janet Napolitano says her chosen design for Arizona's state quarter represents the Grand Canyon State's diverse landscape. Napolitano on Tuesday unveiled the design, which shows both the Grand Canyon and a saguaro cactus in a desert landscape, at a Phoenix elementary school. "This state quarter will be a little piece of Arizona history and U.S. history that people can put in their pockets," Napolitano said in a statement. The Arizona design was the last one chosen among the 50 states. The other four states with quarters coming out in 2008 - Oklahoma, New Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii - had announced their designs previously.

The design, chosen by Napolitano from among five finalists, includes a "Grand Canyon State" banner across the middle of the quarter, separating the canyon view with a multi-rayed sun above and a stately saguaro in a desert landscape below. The Arizona quarter, 48th in the state-by-state series, will be released in May 2008, followed by Alaska and Hawaii. One of the other four finalist designs showed a version of the Grand Canyon scene by itself while a second consisted of the Saguaro desert landscape. The third showed 19th Century explorer John Wesley Powell in a boat on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, and the fourth was of Navajo codetalkers - U.S. Marines who used their native language to thwart Japanese eavesdroppers during World War II. The combination design was the overwhelming favorite on 112,830 entries submitted to an online poll conducted by Napolitano's office. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

2007 Dozen Distinctive Destinations Announced

[Source: National Trust] -- From a charming Colorado mining town nestled among spectacular red sandstone bluffs where Puebloan ruins abound, to a Southern city that’s home to a presidential library and linked forever to a defining moment in American history, America offers alternative vacation destinations that symbolize an increasing dedication to historic preservation. In recognition of this travel trend, The National Trust for Historic Preservation has announced the selection of its 2007 Dozen Distinctive Destinations, an annual list of unique and lovingly preserved communities in the United States. The 2007 America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations are:

1. Charlottesville, Va. 2. Chatham, Mass. (pictured) 3. Chestertown, Md. 4. Durango, Colo. 5. Ellensburg, Wash. 6. Hillsborough, N.C. 7. Little Rock, Ark. 8. Mineral Point, Wis. 9. Morgantown, W.Va. 10. Providence, R.I. 11. West Hollywood, Calif. 12. Woodstock, Ill.

In addition, the National Trust recognized the city of New Orleans for exemplary achievement in heritage tourism. The citation reads, “New Orleans is a richly unique, authentic, historic community that is reinventing itself through preservation-based revitalization. The National Trust salutes the unflagging spirit of the people of New Orleans.” For more information on the Dozen Distinctive Destinations, visit the National Trust Website.

Women's Commission Work Revitalizes Johnson House

[Source: B. Poole, Tucson Citizen] -- Decades of blood, sweat and tears are nearly over for the Pima County/Tucson Women's Commission, which is about to wrap up a key phase in the restoration of its 19th-century adobe home.
But work on the Royal Johnson House, 240 N. Court Ave., will likely never end, said Arthur Stables, an architect who helped add new windows, doors, floors, roofing, heating and cooling to the home built in the shadow of the Tucson Presidio. "Historical things don't just exist in one time. They keep evolving as people use them," Stables said during a presentation Thursday marking the close of $173,000 in work funded by the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund. The building's origin is unknown, but by 1881 it was owned by local ice merchant Royal Johnson, who lived and maybe kept ice there for 12 years, said Annette Campbell, who is on the commission committee that guided the work. It sits just one-half block from the uncovered portion of the presidio wall that will become part of the city's Origins Heritage Park. "This building is one of the first buildings that grew out of the development of the fort," Campbell said.

State-funded renovations began in 2001 with the hiring of architects, adobe experts and craftsmen, but the love began pouring into the structure in the early 1980s, said commission Executive Director Sandy Davenport. In 1981, the fledgling group asked the city not to demolish the ramshackle house and to let it move in. Starting in 1983, the commission rented the city-owned property for $1 per year, and volunteers set to work with hammer and nail. Eventually the landlord came calling, Davenport said. "As it got better and better, at one point the city wanted to take it back," she said. The commission held its ground, and by 2000 the city had turned over the keys for the price of a month's rent. Some of the volunteers' work in the 1980s had to be undone to meet federal Department of Interior standards for historic restoration to be on the Register of Historic Places. You have to be very careful what you do and don't do," said Heritage Fund grant coordinator Vivian Strang. There were plenty of surprises as the home's walls and roof were pulled apart, Stables said. The roof - 18 inches of hard-packed mud on top of two layers of saguaro ribs - was basically supported by two-by-fours. There were cavities of several cubic feet inside the adobe walls caused by leaks in pipes and the roof. There was asbestos in window frames and under tile. Despite the transformation, there is plenty left to do. Flooring and lighting are next, and other interior work remains, Davenport said. "There is plenty of work to go around," she said. To make a tax-deductible donation to the restoration effort, call Sandy Davenport at 624-8318.

Prehistoric Camel Bones Found in Mesa

[Source: Christian Richardson, Tribune] -- When digging holes for citrus trees, nursery owner John Babiarz is used to encountering river rock and caliche, but finding a pre-historic camel is a bit of a rarity. However on Wednesday, that is exactly what the 59-year-old discovered after a backhoe plunged into earth and dumped dirt and bones onto the ground along Lindsay Road near McKellips Road in Mesa. “I was quite shocked to see a camel down there,” said Babiarz, the owner of the Greenfield Citrus Nursery and paleontologist on the side for the last 30 years. “You never know, somebody could have buried their pet llama 20 years ago, but this thing is in undisturbed rock.”

Brad Archer, curator of the R.S. Dietz Geology Museum at Arizona State University, estimates that the young camel — the size of a small pony — is 8,000 to 10,000 years old and could be a remnant of the Ice Age. The bones were preserved four feet down in an area known as the Mesa Terrace where the Salt River was located during the Ice Age, Archer said. It appears that an intact set of bones became disturbed first when crews dug a trench for a water line, then filled it in, only to dig another hole for a citrus tree, Archer said. The excavation has produced teeth, a lower jaw section, a hoof, a humerus, scapula, vertebrae and some rodent bones, Babiarz said. Archer called this a unique find for Arizona and said it is the first prehistoric camel to be unearthed in the Valley. Babiarz said he will work on the dig throughout the weekend. Then, he must get back to planting the citrus trees at the future Wal-Mart site. Babiarz is well versed in finding bones. In Wyoming he discovered Tyrannosaurus Rex bones, and 10 years ago worked with Archer to find a Colombian mammoth in Chandler.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Programmatic Agreement for HUD Funded Projects

[Source: Barbara Stocklin] -- On May 1, 2007, the Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation signed and executed a Programmatic Agreement between the City, the State and the U.S. Government to delegate federal cultural resource compliance reviews for HUD funded projects in Phoenix to the City Archaeology and Historic Preservation Offices. This agreement, which has been in the works for several years, sets the stage for quicker turnarounds of federal funds for city development and grant projects.

House With History Sells for $1.2 Million

[Source: Glen Creno, Arizona Republic] -- A modernistic Phoenix house first owned by the late political heavyweight Burton Barr is for sale for $1.195 million. The nearly 2,500 square foot house (pictured) was commissioned by Barr and designed by noted architect Al Beadle. The low-slung place has big windows, custom cabinets and Beadle's trademark carport. The home's architectural details are intact and Beadle's original drawings - showing the house's asymmetrical, winged shape - come with the house. "It's totally original," said Roger Williams, the Russ Lyon agent listing the house. "It still has the original Formica, all the wood, all the cabinetry." Barr was well known in Arizona politics. He served in the Arizona House of Representatives for 22 years. For 20 of those years, he was the Republican majority leader and acknowledged master of steering legislation and legislators.

He lost the 1986 GOP gubernatorial primary to Evan Mecham, who was elected, then later impeached. Barr died in 1997. His name is memorialized on the Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix. The house is east of State Route 51 and north of Bethany Home Road in Phoenix. Williams said he thinks Barr lived in the house into the late '60s, maybe into the early '70s. The current owners, Stephen and Amy O'Meara, are looking for a place that will accommodate a larger studio. Stephen O'Meara is a sculptor and silversmith. Amy declined to say what her husband paid for the house but said he bought it about 10 years ago "when real estate was crashing in Arizona." The house has been listed for about a month. There have been some lookers but no offers. The couple think the house will sell. Amy said that about six times a year, someone leaves a business card on their front door telling them to get in touch if they decide to sell. "This is a really interesting time in history," Amy said. "There's a revival of 1950s retro cool going on. People really are appreciating it more than they did 10 to 20 years ago."

May is Preservation Month: Making Preservation Work!

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 we focus on many aspects of the preservation movement, including historic travel, heritage education, historic homeownership, and community revitalization. Local celebrations will highlight their unique culture and traditions, and the National Trust strongly encourages people to participate in National Preservation Month events being held in their communities.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

This Day in History

May 5, 1862 : CINCO DE MAYO. During the French-Mexican War, a poorly supplied and outnumbered Mexican army defeats a French army attempting to capture Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. Victory at the Battle of Puebla represented a great moral victory for the Mexican government, symbolizing the country's ability to defend its sovereignty against threat by a powerful foreign nation. In 1861, the liberal Mexican Benito Juarez became president of a country in financial ruin, and he was forced to default on his debts to European governments. In response, France, Britain, and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz to demand reimbursement. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew, but France, ruled by Napoleon III, decided to use the opportunity to carve a dependent empire out of Mexican territory. Late in 1861, a well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz, landing a large French force and driving President Juarez and his government into retreat.

Certain that French victory would come swiftly in Mexico, 6,000 French troops set out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles. From his new headquarters in the north, Juarez rounded up a rag-tag force of loyal men and sent them to Puebla. Led by Texas-born General Zaragoza, the 2,000 Mexicans fortified the town and prepared for the French assault. On the fifth of May, 1862, Lorencez drew his army, well-provisioned and supported by heavy artillery, before the city of Puebla and began their assault from the north. The battle lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers to the fewer than 100 Mexicans killed.

Although not a major strategic victory in the overall war against the French, Zaragoza's victory at Puebla tightened Mexican resistance, and six years later France withdrew. The same year, Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, who had been installed as emperor of Mexico by Napoleon in 1864, was captured and executed by Juarez' forces. Puebla de Los Angeles, the site of Zaragoza's historic victory, was renamed Puebla de Zaragoza in honor of the general. Today, Mexicans celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla as Cinco de Mayo, a national holiday in Mexico.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Senate Passes Bill to Punish 'Cactus Rustlers'

[Source: Brandi Grissom, Austin Bureau] -- Pilfering desert plants for profit could mean punishment and penalties under a bill the Texas Senate unanimously approved today. "We have unique Chihuahuan desert heritage that deserves protection," said state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, who wrote the bill. The legislation aims to end so-called "cactus rustling" in Texas by subjecting those who try to sell plants yanked out of the desert to hefty fines and even jail time. With the increasing popularity of xeriscaping, a landscaping method that conserves water, Shapleigh said native plants like barrel and rainbow cacti are selling for a pretty penny. In states like California and Arizona, he said, a single barrel cactus could go for upwards of $300.

Cactus rustlers, he said, swoop into areas like Sierra Blanca and round up hundreds of plants to sell for big profits. Since Arizona and New Mexico have adopted tough anti-cactus rustling laws, Shapleigh said, the practice has proliferated in Texas. Almost 100,000 cacti worth about $3 million were shipped from Texas to Arizona from 1998 to 2001, according to a Senate analysis. Often the plants rustlers dig up are ones birds, bats and other animals use for food and shelter. "The Chihuahuan desert does have one of the highest diversities of cacti species on the planet, so it's something we need to keep an eye on," said Kevin Bixby, executive director of the Southwest Environmental Center in Las Cruces. Bixby said he has seen rustlers in action in his own Las Cruces neighborhood, though he and some neighbors were able to scare off the succulent stealers. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Gerald A. Doyle, Jr.

Gerald A. Doyle Jr., 84, passed away Thursday, April 12, 2007 in Clemson, South Carolina. Surviving are his wife, Dorothy DeVaughn "Dev" Doyle, daughters; Claudia Redfern (Kurt, deceased), Gwen Jones (Ron), Trish Kossick (Tom), stepchildren; Deborah Zupcak and Douglas Dent, and eleven grandchildren. 1964 through 2006 Jerry was principal architect of Gerald A. Doyle and Associates. Jerry's exacting standards for authenticity and documentation have produced an admirable record of excellence. Jerry was awarded The American Institute of Architects Certificate of Fellowship "Fellows" in 1986 for his notable contributions to the advancement of the profession of architecture. In 1989 Jerry was awarded the Governor's Award for historic preservation. He directed the authentic and sensitive restoration of Arizona's most prominent historic properties, including the Arizona State Capitol, the Carnegie Public Library, the Corpstein Duplex, and the Evans House.