Saturday, September 29, 2007

Phoenix's Franklin Police & Fire High School set to open Sept. 30

[Source: Betty Reid, Arizona Republic] -- The Franklin Police and Fire High School is set to open Monday, September 30. It will be the first stand-alone education facility in the Valley that delivers instruction to students interested in public-safety careers, district officials said. The school at 1645 W. McDowell Road will have 160 students, all juniors and seniors. Eventually it will have four years of high school.

Phoenix Union High School District bought the old Franklin School from Phoenix Elementary School District for $10,000 but put more than $6 million into restoration of the facility. It had been closed for decades. Firefighters often used the building for training. The school was scheduled to open in August but restoration of the building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, took longer than expected.

Approval to clean Franklin's dull red brick, for example, came from a historical expert. A special cleaning solution that preserved the color was required to clean the walls, said Marty Hoeffel, a Phoenix Union principal turned-construction consultant. He is relieved the work is completed. "It's been an incredible challenge to take a 1926 building and fully restore it," Hoeffel said. But it is worth it to preserve some of Phoenix's history, according to Hoeffel. [Photo source: Michael Schennum, Arizona Republic.]

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Open-space planning must start early, state parks director says

[Source: Sonu Munshi, Cronkite News Service] -- Leaders and citizens are failing to consider spaces that should be preserved at all cost as Arizona grows, and there's no way to replace what's being lost, the executive director of Arizona State Parks says. "Planning in the West is a four-letter word; it's a curse word. 'You're getting in the way of people's rights to do what they want,'" Ken Travous said in an interview with Cronkite News Service. "Well yeah, you are. At some point in time, let's get over it and talk about what's good for our neighbors also."

Travous said a combination of factors keeps Arizona from planning for open space ahead of growth, including a shortage of public funding for land acquisition and newcomers who lack a sense of Arizona's history and long-term needs. "There has to be some kind of a recognition that the cost of growth needs to be addressed in the early stage so it's healthy growth, so it's not malignant growth," Travous said. "It doesn't all need to be saved," he said. "But let's take a couple years, and let's take a couple million dollars, and let's get some good minds together and determine what is worth saving at all costs." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Plans progress on rehabilitation of Phoenix's Winship House

[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] -- The City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office staff met with representatives from the city's Parks & Recreation Department and EAS to discuss moving forward on the interior and exterior abatement of the Winship House. The house is planned to serve as offices for the Japanese Friendship Garden and Parks staff, and is located immediately adjacent to Portland Place condominium project.

Phase I rehabilitation work is slated to begin October 8 and be completed within 2 weeks. The project architects are finalizing the drawings to finish rehabilitation of the exteriors; this phase II rehabilitation work is tentatively scheduled for early 2008.

Tucson's Pottery Project preserves ancient ceramics

[Source: Lee Allen, Indian Country Today] -- It's called ''The Pottery Project: 2,000 Years - 20,000 Vessels''; and while China may have its ancient Great Wall, the Arizona State Museum in Tucson has its brand-new Great Wall of Pots. The wall, actually a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall display of whole-vessel ceramics, is just a portion of the pottery that spans 2,000 years of life in the unique environments of the American desert Southwest and northern Mexico. ''Every one of the contemporary tribes in the Southwest that makes pottery is represented here in the largest and most comprehensive collection on Southwest cultures anywhere,'' conservator Nancy Odegaard said. ''You can find other fantastic museum collections elsewhere, but ours is far-reaching and outstanding in the breadth of our older works. Our oldest vessel, discovered not far away from the museum location on the University of Arizona campus, is about 2,000 years old.''

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Arizona State Museum.]

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Phoenix Council may testify in W hotel trial; Court to decide if conflicts existed in talks with developer

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] -- Phoenix City Council members and their top aides may have to tell a court whether they had improper talks with the developer of a proposed $200 million W Hotel project. Last week, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ordered a trial to sort through conflicting accounts about how the developer tried to sway city leaders to build the project. That means council members and top aides may have to testify about the behind-the-scenes lobbying tactics in the controversial project.

Developer Suns Legacy Partners was poised last year to build a 39-story W Hotel near US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix. A key part of the project was an 11-story office and condo tower that would have been built on top of a historic warehouse, preserving it from being torn down. Even if Phoenix wins the court case, litigation and other problems have effectively killed the hotel project for now. Legal wrangling has delayed the project, and the developer's deal with W Hotel expired because ground was not broken by June 30. In his four-page Sept. 18 ruling, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Swann wrote that a trial would have to sort out whether Mayor Phil Gordon, his council colleagues, and their aides had improper talks with Suns Legacy Partners, the development group that includes Suns owner Robert Sarver and former Suns owner Jerry Colangelo.

The litigation is just about procedures; it's not about the City Council's decision to build a condo tower on top of a historic building, the mayor and the city attorney say. The city is weighing its legal options, City Attorney Gary Verburg says.

Gordon denies any wrongdoing. "There was no influence behind the scenes or any type of nefarious-type discussions," Gordon said. "Everything was public."

The preservationists are prepping for trial, although no date has been set. They filed the lawsuit to protect the 1920s warehouse, the last vestige of Phoenix's old Chinatown. "Phoenix can do better with its historic structures." said Barry Wong, a former state lawmaker who is a spokesman for the coalition of preservationists and Asian-American community groups.

The City Council was essentially sitting as a judge when it overruled the historic-preservation officials who didn't think the condo tower should be built on top of the historic warehouse, the coalition argued in court. When acting as judges, council members can't have outside talks with the parties in the dispute, the preservationists argued.

The warehouse, the Sun Mercantile Building, is owned by the city. Suns Legacy Partners has a long-term lease agreement. Lawyers for both sides agree that preservationists and the hotel developer lobbied the City Council. However, the preservationists argue that council members and their top aides -- including the mayor's senior assistant, Bill Scheel -- may have been swayed by undisclosed talks with the Suns Legacy developer.

The contacts included a Dec. 6 letter from the developer's lawyer. The preservationists also point to a form letter that Scheel used to respond to several people who e-mailed Gordon about the project. In addition to replying on behalf of Gordon, Scheel lauded the project as a "reasonable and positive re-use" of the 1920s warehouse.

Scheel, who has helped run Gordon's election campaigns, downplayed the letter. Gordon said his staff gives him advice, but ultimately he and the rest of the council made the final call. In court, the city argued that council members were more aggressively lobbied by residents and groups that opposed the 11-story tower. The city's legal team also argued that the City Council avoided communicating with either side after it was clear that issue would be appealed to the full council.

Since council members are routinely lobbied on issues, it would have been impossible for them to know before the appeal that they should be careful about talking about the case, Verburg said. In affidavits, council members said that they did not talk to the developer after Suns Legacy appealed the decision the historic-preservation decision. Swann, however, ruled that any contact with parties in the hotel fight could fall under scrutiny.

[Click here to download Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Swann's ruling of September 17, 2007.]

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Will prayers be answered for Phoenix's First Baptist Church?

A Phoenix non-profit group, the Housing Opportunity Center, has acquired the First Baptist Church property at 402 W. Monroe St. with the intention of "converting" the church into a multi-use space, to include performance space, restaurant, coffee shop, and approximately 20,000 square feet of office space on the second, third, and fourth floors. Unique features include a fourth floor study with a fireplace and balcony and a belltower loft (with a possible three floor unit of approximately 2,000 square feet) overlooking downtown.

Westlake Reed Leskosky have been hired to perform the work and all that is needed is a long-term tenant to get this project started. With such a tenant, the necessary funding would be freed up and the restoration could begin. To view and download the plans (in PDF format), click here. For more information, call 602-254-1514.

[Note: First Baptist Church is listed on the Arizona Preservation Foundation's 2006 Most Endangered Historic Places list. For details, click here.]

For you mid-century modernists...

Glendale's old beet-sugar factory draws little interest

[Source: Carrie Watters, Arizona Republic] -- A 2002 Glendale plan contains a wishful sketch of the old beet-sugar factory remodeled into restaurants, shops and apartments. But the five-story factory at 52nd and Glendale avenues stands more or less empty, as it has since 1985. Every decade or so, a plan stirs hope that new life might be breathed into the brick fortress that towers over the eastern edge of downtown and is privately owned by the Ringer-Morgan family in Tucson. The family and a Valley developer forged a partnership to seek tenants in 1997. Ten years later, that partnership has dissolved. The state awarded the family a $250,000 preservation grant in 1998 to repair the roof and replace broken windows. The family returned the grant. Broken windows remain.

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

Phoenicians invited to 10/8/07 Hispanic Heritage Month event

[Source: City of Phoenix Histoirc Preservation Office] -- Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, Members of the Phoenix City Council, and the Historic Preservation Commission and Ofice invite you to attend a special Hispanic Heritage Month event.
  • Date: Monday, October 8
  • Time: 2 p.m.
  • Place: Phoenix Museum of History, 105 N. 5th St., Heritage Square, Phoenix

Features include:

  • Celebrate the new listing of ten historic Hispanic properties on the Phoenix Historic Property Register, like Sacred Heart Church at 801 S. 16th St. pictured above (scheduled to be voted upon by City Council on October 3)
  • Honor LULAC's Latino Leyendas
  • View a new video chronicling Hispanic history in Phoenix
  • Refreshments will be served
  • Parking available at Heritage & Science Garage (corner of 5th & Monroe Sts.)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Arizona Office of Tourism seeks free things to do

The Arizona Office of Tourism is looking for your free stuff to do with our visitors, including cultural heritage tourists. Travel companies often ask AOT for information about free attractions or activities that can be added to Arizona itineraries and tours. These help add value to new or existing travel packages for their leisure clients traveling to the Grand Canyon State. So, AOT is seeking free activities that are cultural, historical, nature-based, etc., and may include museums, zoos, observatories, events, tours, etc.

By October 5, 2007 click here to respond and write “Free Stuff” in the subject line. Be sure to send all the particulars including the attraction, location, contact information, a short description of the activity, and any other information you think AOT should include. Also include special notes if it is a seasonal activity, group friendly, etc.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tucson minidorm developer threatens $12M suit

[Source: Rob O'Dell, Daily Star] -- A developer of minidorms near the University of Arizona has threatened a $12.6 million lawsuit against the city — which his lawyer hopes will turn into the first test case for a new law protecting private property rights. Clint Bolick, of Rose Law Group, sent a letter to the city asserting new city restrictions on demolishing houses have hurt developer Michael Goodman's property values. At issue is a regulation passed by the City Council in June that requires a historic study be done on any 45-year-old or older building in Tucson's historic core — identified as the area inside the city limits on Oct. 6, 1953 — before it can be torn down. Following the study, the city could delay demolition for up to six months while it decides if it wants to buy the property or find a private buyer. Bolick called for the city to either change the regulations, give Goodman a waiver or compensate him for his lost value. Otherwise he said he would file the $12.6 million suit under Proposition 207, a ballot initiative passed last year requiring governments to compensate landowners if land-use rules lower their property values. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Phoenix begins search for new Points of Pride (what historic places would you nominate?)

[Source: Michael Clancy, Arizona Republic] -- Phoenix once again is looking for Points of Pride, locations like the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park (pictured at right), that evoke pride in city residents. It's a nice idea, conceived at a time when the city was struggling with recession and, as former Mayor Paul Johnson says, people needed to be reminded of all the good things in Phoenix. Still, the passing years make some of the points look silly or even just plain wrong.

Take Patriots Square, which became a Point of Pride in 1992. "We thought it was something unique at the time," Johnson said of the downtown park. Now, he said, we know better. Never a favorite of downtown workers or visitors, the Square's laser was supposed to become a worldwide tourist attraction. Instead, it was a big bust. Now, the city has approved plans offered by a private developer to reconstruct three blocks into the new "Cityscape" project, including the Patriots Square block at Central Avenue and Washington Street. Not everyone is happy with the results, but construction is expected to begin by the end of the year.

Then there is the Thomas J. Pappas School, which joined the list in 2004. The county-run school educated homeless children, and became a favorite place for Valley residents to drop off school supplies and Christmas gifts. But then Maricopa County Schools Superintendent Sandra Dowling, who oversaw the school, was indicted and subsequently resigned as the sole member of the Pappas governing board. The entire top tier of district administrators was suspended. And with declining enrollment, the school at Fifth Avenue and Fillmore Street may be in jeopardy of closing. "I think we've outlived the need for Pappas," Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox said earlier this month.

Conchita Kollmann, chair of the Points of Pride Committee, says the group has discussed the issues but will make no decision about them until the school and the park are no more. She adds that there are plenty of new locations worthy of consideration, but as chairman of the committee, she would give no ideas.

Meanwhile, residents are encouraged to submit new Points of Pride to Kollmann's committee by Nov. 9. Nominations are on the city's Web site. The Phoenix Pride Commission will review the nominations in November and select 10 locations that will be voted on by the public early in 2008. The commission will evaluate the sites receiving the most votes and consider designating one or more as a Phoenix Point of Pride.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Arizona hotels flash back in time

[Source: Business Journal of Phoenix] -- Three Arizona hotels will Fall Back in Time in November as part of a program through the National Trust Historic Hotels of America. Seventy-five hotels across the U.S., including Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Hassayampa Inn in Prescott and Tubac Golf Resort, will offer promotions based on the year they were incorporated. Hotel Valley Ho, for example, is touting 1956 with a Twist. Guests will receive a two-night stay in a signature guest room, the first night at the prevailing rate, the second at $195.60. Champaign for two and historic tours also will be offered for $19.50. The Tubac resort is the oldest among the three Arizona properties and is offering a six-night stay for two including breakfast, golf, spa treatments and other amenities for $1,789. [Photo source of Hassayampa Inn: Dick Gerber.]

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

$200 million W Hotel proposal is dealt a killing blow by ruling; Lawsuit arose in bid to save Sun Merc

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] -- A proposed $200 million boutique hotel in downtown Phoenix was on life support, but a judge's Tuesday ruling has effectively killed the existing deal, the developer said. Phoenix Suns majority owner Robert Sarver was poised to build a 39-story W Hotel near US Airways Center. The development would have included an 11-story office and condo tower built on top of a historic 1920s warehouse.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Swann ruled that a jury should decide whether the Phoenix City Council had improper talks with Sarver before it decided the fate of the warehouse on the hotel site. That litigation could drag on for a year or two years on appeal, said Robert Yen, an attorney who represents several groups that want to protect the Sun Mercantile Building, which is considered by many to be the last vestige of Phoenix's once thriving Chinatown.

"It was a building built by a very prominent Chinese family," Yen said of the Sun Mercantile. Back in the 1920s, the property housed a wholesale grocery store owned by Shing Tang, a Chinese immigrant. The Tang descendents, many of whom still live in Phoenix, include the late Thomas Tang, a former Phoenix City Councilman and federal judge.

The hotel project had another problem, Sarver said Tuesday. The agreement with Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.'s W Hotel brand expired because the project didn't break ground by June 30, he said. "It's too bad, because that's a part of Phoenix that needs development," Sarver said.

[Click here to download Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Swann's ruling of September 17, 2007.]

Prescott's Elks Opera House to undergo renovations

[Source: Elisabeth Ruffner, Chairman Elks Opera House Capital Campaign] -- When the Elks Opera House in Prescott goes dark for 6 weeks on October 1, a renovation of the inner lobby will commence with a grant from the Arizona Heritage Fund matched by Prescott Questers groups and the Elks Opera House Foundation. Both Billy G. Garrett, co-founder of APF (with Elisabeth Ruffner) and James W. Garrison State Historic Preservation Officer will be present for a hard hat party on Sunday 7 October when the demolition is celebrated with tours of the theatre and food, music and dancing. Guests may sign the bare walls and studs and become a part of the grand old house forever!

Renovation will commence on the next day and will result in a restored stencilled ceiling, a renovated concessions stand with state of the art refrigeration, new carpeting and replica chandelier, according to Nancy Burgess, City of Prescott Preservation Officer who will manage the construction project for which she prepared the successful grant proposal, rated 100% by the review panel. The Elks Opera House is owned by the City of Prescott on a condominium basis and the restoration/renovation is being undertaken by the foundation under a memorandum of understanding with the city. As one of only three remaining Elks opera houses in the country, and the only one in public hands, the Prescott venue is now and will be in the future used by many different performers, young and adult, for graduations, memorial services, conventions, concerts and theatrical and musical presentations.

Brown Bag luncheon in Phoenix explores building inclusive communities

The city of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office will highlight its efforts to build inclusive communities at the free Faces of Diversity Brown Bag luncheon series noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, at the Phoenix City Council Chambers, 200 W. Jefferson St. In 2003, the Historic Preservation Office developed a multi-year survey and designation plan that provided for three ethnic historic property surveys - African-American heritage, Hispanic heritage and Asian-American heritage. The three surveys document the history of these communities and identify the number and location of historic properties associated with their ethnic heritage and significance to the community.

Barbara Stocklin and Kevin Weight, city’s Historic Preservation Office, as well as others directly involved with the project, including Frank Barrios, a Phoenix resident; Jim Boozer, former city of Phoenix Housing Department director; Karen Leong, associate professor of Asian Pacific American Studies, ASU; and Jean Reynolds, public program historian, city of Chandler; will share their experiences. Bring your lunch and enjoy a cultural experience. No reservation needed. For more information, call 602-261-8242 or 602-534-1557/TTY or click here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Arizona Preservation Foundation hosts annual membership meeting in Glendale

APF invites you to review the year with us and exchange preservation efforts and information at this year's annual membership meeting. The Board will be electing officers and directors for the new term. There will be food and beverage. The meeting (which will run from 4 p.m. - 5 p.m.) will be followed by a guided tour of the turn-of-the-century National Register property, Manistee Ranch in Glendale, led by the President of the Glendale Historical Society.

Members are invited to bring a guest. $10 per guest; members are FREE. RSVP by September 18. For more information and to RSVP, send an email to Leanne Matzenger at The meeting will take place at Manistee Ranch, 5127 West Northern Avenue, Glendale.

East Valley historic sites are fighting for survival

[Source: Ed Taylor, Tribune] -- Arizona State University may have done a nice job restoring its Old Main building, but the demolition of a former Valley National Bank branch with an unusual geodesic dome early this year has put the university in bad odor with historic preservationists. Fourteen buildings owned by the university on or near the university’s campus in Tempe and one in Scottsdale appear on the 2007 list of the state’s most endangered historic places compiled by the Arizona Preservation Foundation. The nonprofit group has been drawing up the list since 2001 to bring public awareness to historic districts and buildings in danger of falling to the wrecking ball or just deteriorating from neglect. “These buildings are the physical representation of our heritage,” said Vince Murray, president of the foundation’s board of directors. “We recognize that the issue of property rights is something that everyone in the West thinks is important, too. What we want is for people to make good choices about what to do with their properties. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.” In all, 16 districts and individual buildings were designated statewide on the 2007 endangered list, including several in the East Valley.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Ralph Fresno, Tribune.]

Lot of love left for Seligman's threatened Harvey House

[Source: Connie Midey, Arizona Republic] -- A century ago, the now-abandoned Havasu Harvey House in Seligman offered repose to rail travelers, fed hungry townsfolk and satisfied the adventurous spirits of its staff and of pioneers pressing westward. It also nurtured love. The former restaurant and hotel, built about 1905, is where Don Gray's grandparents met in 1915. Clara Stork was a Harvey Girl, one of the young women hired by the Fred Harvey Co. to work as waitresses at Harvey Houses along Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway routes. She and a friend persuaded their parents to let them leave their homes in Wisconsin to take the jobs in Seligman. Charles A. Greenlaw Jr., the son of a Flagstaff pioneer, owned a garage in Seligman and dined at the then-bustling town's Harvey House.

"My grandparents met there, fell in love and married, and my mother was born," says Gray, 58, who lives in Lake Havasu City. "I owe my life to that house, and now they're going to demolish it." Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, successor to the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, has decided to take down the building, Burlington spokeswoman Lena Kent confirmed on Wednesday, but "not this year, and we don't even know if it will be in 2008 yet." Gray is not the only one saddened by the thought of losing a piece of history. Mary Clurman, who lives outside the town proper, says the informal Friends of Havasu has found three potential investors and hopes at least part of the property can be restored, as was La Posada Harvey House in Winslow.

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

Arizona Office of Tourism needs calendar of events

AOT is requesting information to be considered for the calendar of events posted at The calendar is currently updated with events through December 2007, and will soon be adding 2008 information. Events to be considered must be open to the public and of interest to participants or spectators from neighboring communities across Arizona or from out of state. Submissions should include the date, including the year; community in which the event takes place, name of event; venue; venue address; description; admission price, event time; phone number and/or Web site for the public to obtain additional information. Please include your contact information so that we may reach you with any questions we may have prior to posting your event. Photography is encouraged, (images should be a minimum of 300 DPI at 4"x5" original size) and we can supply you with an image information form. Additional events through December 2007 may also be submitted immediately if the event is not posted. Please check the Web site to see if your event is already included. If you have questions or would like an event submission form, please contact Marjorie Magnusson at 602-364-3695, by fax at 602-364-3702 or via e-mail at

Who's Herbert Oxman?

Because folks in Tucson want to know... J. Herbert Oxman was an architect/builder who developed a 1960s subdivision called Windsor Park on Tucson's east side, near Camino Seco and Speedway. The development company appears to be "Meadowlane Estates." Any information on Mr. Oxman or the development would be appreciated by Tucson's Modern Architecture Preservation Project.

Free Digital Humanities grant workshop in Phoenix

You are invited to participate in a free grant workshop October 1 on the Digital Humanities Initiative (DHI) of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Brett Bobley, DHI Director and NEH Chief Information Officer will lead the workshop. Registration begins at 9:00 and the workshop starts promptly at 9:30. Please RSVP to (or 480-965-5775) or (or 480-965-5779) so that we have enough materials and seating available for those attending—we need your name and e-mail address.)

This workshop will explore grant support available from NEH for projects that utilize or study the impact of digital technology. NEH is interested in supporting a wide variety of projects that (a) digitize important materials thereby increasing the public’s ability to search and access humanities information; (b) deploy digital technologies and methods to enhance our understanding or a topic or issues; (c) study the impact of digital technology on the humanities. Grants begin at $5,000 with greater funding available depending on the project. The DHI includes joint grants with IMLS and other government agencies. (More information is available at

The workshop will highlight projects NEH hopes to fund, discuss successfully funded proposals, offer suggestions on writing a good proposal, discuss budgeting, note the different funding streams for digital projects at NEH, and highlight the review process. Following the NEH presentation and discussion, the morning will close with a short session conducted by the Arizona Humanities Council highlighting its grants. The workshop concludes by 12:15. Pueblo Grande Museum, 4619 E. Washington, Phoenix (located west of the Washington exit on SR 143.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Glendale City Council forms Centennial Legacy Project Committee

[Source: Elizabeth Jackman, Glendale Star] -- An ad-hoc Arizona Centennial Legacy Project Committee will be formed after council gave their approval during a workshop Tuesday afternoon. Arizona became a state Feb. 12, 1912, and will be the last of the 48 contiguous states to reach 100 years. Steve Methvin, assistant to the mayor, said Glendale had two special anniversaries coming up. “We will be celebrating the 100th year of the incorporation of the city in 2010 and two years later the 100th anniversary of the state in 2012,” Methvin said.

Arizona cities, towns, counties and Indian tribe communities are being encouraged to create ‘Legacy Projects’ that can include creation of public art in commemoration of events or for the centennial; restoration of historic properties to public access and use; publication of books or articles that enhance knowledge of Arizona’s history through new research; or public exhibits and programs. The state legislature appropriated $2.5 million in fiscal year 2006-07 for the legacy projects. Before the appropriation can be spent by vote of the legislature, a matching amount of $5 million must be raised statewide from non-state sources. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Florence redevelopment panel likes Silver King plan

[Mark Cowling, Florence Reminder] -- Town officials will begin negotiations with three businessmen interested in renovating the historic Silver King Hotel for an Irish-themed sports bar, restaurant and banquet facilities. The Florence Redevelopment Commission, after further discussions with Mark Irby, Everett "Sonny" Lee and Timothy "Ray" O'Sullivan, voted last Tuesday to recommend that the town pursue contract negotiations. Commission President Dr. John Riley said the project will be "a big spark" for downtown. "I think downtown in the next two years is going to make a big transformation. This project is going to be key to downtown moving forward with other projects," Riley said.

The plan is to turn the old hotel into the latest R.T. O'Sullivan's, which currently has two locations in Mesa and one in Glendale. The partners figure the complete renovation of the Silver King could cost $2.5 million and take up to two years to complete. Irby, a Tempe architect who has experience restoring historic properties, told the commission last week the partners still have "a lot of concerns" and "we'll need help from the city to make this a reality. ... We're going to be partners in this project." He asked the commission and town officials what the town is doing to help its downtown, and where downtown is headed. Irby further asked what liabilities come with the federal funds available to help renovate the old hotel, and what are the town's plans to create more access to Main Street from the north. "We still need to do a lot of work on our side," Irby continued, such as how to restore the balcony, which would now be in the town's right-of-way; how to provide handicap access; and a cost analysis. He said the partners "have a pretty good idea" of their costs, but still need to develop a budget that the business can afford.

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

Main Street programs in Pinal County honored

The Florence Main Street Program won its share of honors in the recent Arizona Main Street Awards, and board member Gary Pranzo was runner-up for Arizona Main Street Individual of the Year. The local program won first-place awards for "Best Large Scale Renovation Project" (Brunenkant Bakery building) and "Best Promotional Material" (program Web site).

The Florence and Casa Grande programs also received national Main Street accreditation, along with Pinetop-Lakeside, Nogales and Sedona. Casa Grande won several awards, including first places for "Small Scale Project" (The Alley) and "Medium Scale Project" (Cook E Jar). The Casa Grande program received finalist awards for "Economic Restructuring Project" (Palo Verde Plaza); "Business Excellence" (Old Town Custom Framing & Gifts); "Promotional Materials" (video montage); and "Special Event" (Historic Downtown Street Fair). Apache Junction won for "Public/Private Partnership" (Phelps Drive Project.) In all, Pinal County programs took home 10 of the 23 awards presented statewide. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Monday, September 10, 2007

A model program for Route 66 motels

[Source: Route 66 News] -- The City of Flagstaff, Ariz., may be onto something big with its Route 66 Motel Preservation Program. According to the Arizona Daily Sun, the city isn’t just giving lip service to historic motel owners along the Mother Road. Through the Route 66 Motel Preservation Program, the city is encouraging local hotel owners to apply for state and federal historic preservation grants to help restore their hotels to the glory days of Route 66. So far, six hotels have indicated an interest in the program, hoping the grants can help them boost their business. Eberhard suggests if the local hotels embrace their historic roots, they could tap into Route 66 aficionados looking for boutique, niche lodgings. He says some tourists, mostly Japanese and Germans, still seek to get their kicks along Route 66. “They want to have an authentic stay on Route 66,” Eberhard said. Ideally, Eberhard hopes the participating hotels will form a common marketing and booking system to direct interested tourists to rooms. Eberhard said the city has already set aside about 10 Internet domain names to possibly advertise the hotels and has also spent roughly $1,000 on the entire program. This definitely bears watching. Route 66 motels were recently place on the National Trust of Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered list. It’s creative program like this that can reverse the tide. Incidentally, the Daily Sun cited La Posada in Winslow, Ariz., as the model for motel preservation. [Photo source of La Posada Hotel: La Posada Hotel.]

Historic Scottsdale horse ranch corralled

[Source: Ari Cohn, Tribune] -- The last vestiges of Brusally Ranch, a key property in Scottsdale Arabian horse history, received approval Thursday to be subdivided for houses. Scottsdale’s Development Review Board voted 4-0 to approve developer Starpointe Communities application to subdivide the 5.7-acre site on 84th Street north of Cholla Street to accommodate four houses in addition to the original 6,000-square-foot Spanish colonial-style ranch home now known as the Arizona Transplant House, used by recuperating organ transplant patients. Starpointe’s lawyer, John Berry, said deed restrictions prevent the original home’s demolition for 15 years. City Councilman Bob Littlefield said that’s better than nothing. “I hate to lose anything historic, but I think that’s probably a better outcome than we could have expected,” Littlefield said. Many Arabian horses can trace their lineage to those bred at the original 160-acre Brusally Ranch by Ed Tweed, founder and first president of the state’s Arabian Horse Association. Tweed’s importation of about two dozen Arabians from Poland in the 1960s put Scottsdale on the equestrian world’s map, according to historian Tobi Taylor, owner of Coronado Ranch in Tucson, which breeds Brusally Arabians.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Arizona Transplant House.]

Downtown Phoenix hotel eye-catching or eyesore?

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] -- The design is supposed to echo Arizona's breathtaking landscape and rich history. But when Scottsdale resident Terrence Hanson looks at the 1,000-room Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel rising on Third Street, a less flattering image comes to mind: a 1950s-era Las Vegas hotel ready for implosion. "This is not acceptable," said Hanson who's served on Phoenix arts boards. "Let's have something more inspiring." It's not finished yet, but the largest hotel in the state is already generating sharp opinions about how it looks. While some rave about its innovative design, others dislike the rows of burnt gold and rust-colored squares on the building. It's the first hotel to be built downtown since 1976 and is a key part of plans to revitalize downtown Phoenix. It's expected to open in October 2008. The $350 million hotel is bound to draw passionate responses because it's financed by public money, experts say. While the project has some fans, they may be in the minority.

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

As Marana grows, town hopes to save history in heritage park

[Source: Brian J. Pedersen, Daily Star] -- Before it became one of the fastest-growing towns in Arizona, Marana was a small farming community that sprang up thanks to its proximity to both the railroad and the Santa Cruz River. Now, Marana has more rooftops than crop fields, and many of its newest residents have little or no knowledge of the town's roots. Town officials hope the Marana Heritage River Park, which is under construction, will help shed light on Marana's rich history. "Marana is building up, going from a rural community to a suburban community, and a lot of people here don't know about the town," said Tom Ellis, Marana's parks and recreation director. "Without the railroad and the availability of water, it would have just been another spot in the road." Along the banks of the Santa Cruz River in southwestern Marana, the Marana Heritage River Park eventually will consist of 290 acres of farmland, historic buildings, a museum, an amphitheater and a train ride.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source of train car that will run at the Marana Heritage River Park: Jim Davis, Daily Star.]

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Phoenix's 1909 Morin House moved to new location

From the first Arizona Preservation Foundation "Action Alert" on November 15, 2006 to early this morning, it's been a wild ride to save the 1909 M. Edward Morin House. Dan Klocke, Roosevelt neighborhood resident and purchaser of the building, wrote the message below after getting a few hours of sleep from last night's move. Congratulations and thanks to Dan and to everyone who supported Dan in making this happen.

At approximately 4:30 this morning the Edward Morin house began its next century at 621 North 5th Avenue. The house is still raised up on wheels, but is placed where it will sit for at least the next 100 years.

The journey could not have been better. For a trip that was supposed to take 4-6 hours to be complete in 2 1/2 hours shows just how great of a job everyone did. Almost every utility, traffic light, and streetlight was down by the time we pulled off the lot at 2 am so the house "cruised" through the downtown streets without stopping except for 10 minutes at the hardest crossing where APS managed to lift the high powered wires and get us through. I know it may sound a bit much and perhaps it is because I have not slept in awhile, but the City, APS, Cox, Contractors West, the city and county police, and of course the house mover Canyon State Performance, could not have done anything else to make it smoother. It truly was an amazing thing to watch -- and many people did. There is nothing quite like watching a house take up the full width of a street. I think many spouses were receiving cell phone photos around 3 a.m.

The next steps are to get the wheels out from the house and stabilize it. A foundation should begin in the next two months, as well as alot of the site work. Then once permits and certificate of appropriateness are approved for the porch a new one will be built and the interior clean-up will begin as well. The hope is to have the building done and a tenant in it by next July. Thanks again to all of you for working so hard to make this happen. There is a lot more work to be done, but perhaps the most daunting part is complete.

[Note: Click here for some photos and video snippets of the "historic" move.]

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

2007 Most Endangered Historic Places announced by Arizona Preservation Foundation

[Source: APF Board of Directors] -- The Arizona Preservation Foundation has released its 2007 list of Arizona’s most endangered historic places. Compiled by preservation professionals and historians, the list identifies critically endangered cultural resources of major historical significance to the state. “Each of the sites we have named are important historic landmarks in Arizona, but unfortunately are in grave danger of collapse, demolition, or destruction,” said Vince Murray, APF Board President. “It is critical that residents and government officials act now to save these elements of their cultural heritage before it’s too late.”

The 2007 list is as follows. Click here for descriptions, rationale for listing, photographs, and links to lists of other Western states.
  • Arizona State University Historic Properties, Tempe, Maricopa County
  • Buckhorn Baths, Mesa, Maricopa County
  • Camp Naco, Huachuca City, Cochise County
  • Empire-Cienega Ranch, Pima County
  • Glendale Tract Community Center, Glendale, Maricopa County
  • Havasu Hotel, Seligman, Yavapai County
  • Kerr Cultural Center, Scottsdale, Maricopa County
  • Kingman Multiple Resources, Kingman, Mohave County
  • Maple Ash Neighborhood, Tempe, Maricopa County
  • Marist College, Tucson, Pima County
  • Old U.S. 80 Bridge (Gillespie Dam Bridge), Arlington, Maricopa County
  • Sage Memorial Hospital School of Nursing, Ganado, Apache County (pictured above)
  • San Ysidro Ranch Ruins, Yuma County
  • Second Pinal County Courthouse, Florence, Pinal County
  • Valley National Bank, 44th Street & Camelback Road, Phoenix, Maricopa County
  • White Gates House, Phoenix, Maricopa County

The 2007 list adds to APF’s 2006 Most Endangered Places List. For updates on the twelve properties listed last year, click here.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation hires Robert Jones to head conservation of historic properties

[Source: The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation] -- Robert A. Jones, AIA NCARB, has joined the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in the newly created position of Vice President of Campus Planning, Restoration and Development effective today, announced Philip Allsopp, president and CEO. Jones will assume responsibility for all facility-based initiatives and maintenance for Taliesin and Taliesin West, the Foundation's estates in Scottsdale and Spring Green, Wis., respectively. He will manage the development and execution of a master plan to stabilize, restore and manage the buildings, land and infrastructure as well as develop new facilities and manage the facilities department.

The properties, both former homes of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Foundation's founder, are designated national Historic Landmarks. Architects, engineers, historians and urban planners worldwide esteem the properties as the epitome of Wright's genius for architectural design innovation. The dual campuses, which also house the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives, foster research, debate, education and creative solutions regarding issues of the 21st century built environment. "I am delighted to have Rob become part of my senior leadership team," Allsopp said. "He brings a wealth of experience in operations, project management, construction management, planning and programming that will be essential to the realization of our multi-million dollar plan to preserve our key physical assets.

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

Monday, September 03, 2007

Tempe high-rise could go above Monti’s on Mill Avenue

[Source: Garin Groff, Tribune] -- Plans to redevelop the historic Monti’s La Casa Vieja call for building a 24-story tower directly above the downtown Tempe landmark. The restaurant is one of the state’s most treasured landmarks - and a place history buffs have feared could be bulldozed to make way for a high-rise building. Restaurant owner Michael Monti said constructing a building on top of the restaurant is the only way to preserve the beloved adobe building. Monti has struggled to make money in recent years as his loyal customer base ages and is turned off by downtown’s urban transformation. The high-rise proposal would let Monti keep the restaurant while allowing redevelopment of a property at the gateway to downtown.

“I view this project as saving that building by making that corner economically viable,” he said. Monti recently inked a deal to sell the La Casa Vieja building and about 2.5 acres of land to Scottsdale-based 3W Companies. The company’s plans call for the new building above Monti’s and a 26-story building to the west, with a total of more than 1 million square feet of available space. They’d each stand about 300 feet tall. The high-rise concept got a less-than-welcome reception from the state’s historic preservation officer, James Garrison. While historic building advocates generally acknowledge economic forces demand additions and changes, historic buildings are supposed to remain a dominant feature in a development, he said. “It’s hard to imagine that this would be compatible with the historic property,” Garrison said. The building is a rare - and perhaps the best - example of an adobe building from that era, Garrison said. He considers it the Valley’s most important historic structure.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Monti's.]

Back to bunker: Tucson restores its 1950s building

[Source: Tom Beal, Daily Star] -- George Caria feels quite safe in his new offices at 149 N. Stone Ave., where the city of Tucson has restored a former bank building to its 1950s concrete-bunker glory. It's a victory for the modern architecture preservation movement — salvation of a building that had grown so nondescript that most folks who walked by it daily couldn't tell you what it looked like. Opinion was divided when the city bought the building several years back, said Bruce Woodruff, a city of Tucson architect and project manager for restoration of 149 N. Stone Ave. "Half the guys said, 'Tear it down'; the other half said, 'Look at the bones.' " The systems — electrical, heating and cooling — were shot, Woodruff said, and they were stripped out. The windows — single-paned curtain walls with aluminum frames that spanned the north and south sides of the building for three of its four floors — were energy sieves. But it was "the bones" of the building — four stories of re-enforced concrete — that persuaded the city to keep it and spend $4.7 million to transform it into usable office and retail space.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Welman Sperides Mickelberg Architects.]

Arts groups: Tucson should redevelop warehouses, report says

[Source: Andrea Kelly and Gerald M. Gay, Daily Star] -- The city of Tucson should preserve and redevelop the dilapidated buildings in its Downtown warehouse arts district, a new report says — even though it might take millions of dollars to bring some of them up to city code. The suggestions, part of a 58-page draft report assessing Pima County's cultural viability, will be presented to city officials and local arts organizations in November. The report is part of a joint study by the Tucson Pima Arts Council (TPAC); the Nature, Arts, Culture and Heritage Organizations, an alliance of local arts, culture, nature, and heritage nonprofit organizations; and private consultants. Funding came from a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a combined matching amount from the city and the county. Tucson's warehouse district has long been home to artists who have worked — and in some cases, lived — in buildings inspectors have said have unsound roofs and/or floors, crumbling walls and unsafe wiring. The Arizona Department of Transportation owns the buildings and originally planned to tear them down to make room for a new road, but now plans to sell them. The city wants to buy the buildings and eventually sell them to the artists, but so far has plans to buy only two warehouses.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source of Steinfeld warehouse in Downtown's warehouse district: Kelly Presnell, Daily Star.]

Old Tucson college building on endangered places list

[Source: Teya Vitu, Tucson Citizen] -- The crumbling adobe Marist College building in downtown Tucson is one of 16 properties statewide to make the Arizona's Most Endangered Historic Places list, the Arizona Preservation Foundation announced Thursday. The 1916 three-story structure on the grounds of St. Augustine Cathedral is the tallest adobe structure in southern Arizona, but monsoon storms in recent years have torn away part of the the northwest corner and weakened the other corners. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson and city officials have wrestled since last year with what role taxpayer money could or should play in the estimated $1 million to $3 million cost to stabilize the Marist building and fix it up for a new tenant.

"It does have an interesting and rich history behind it," said Vince Murray, the Tempe-based preservation foundation's president. "It is also imminently endangered. It's got some serious structural problems. It really does need somebody to step up to the plate." The Endangered Historic Places list is meant to focus attention on historic properties facing serious problems. "We've been working with the diocese to see if we can find a private development partner," said Marty McCune, the city's historic preservation officer. "We do have it on our preliminary list of Pima County bond projects for $2 million." The Marist College served as a school until 1968 and then housed diocese offices until it was vacated in 2002. The Empire-Cienega Ranch near Sonoita was the other Pima County property to make the 2007 endangered list. [Photo source: Gary Gaynor, Tucson Citizen.]