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If you have walked around the neighborhood on the tour or since, you have seen some of the messages in chalk highlighting elements of our community. Thanks to Janet Miller for the chalk work and to Glenda Bonin for photography. Get out to see them in person before they fade away.
This is another example of why Armory Park is a great place to live.
Home tour organizer, Anne Cooper, has published a summary of the 2017 tour. There were 59 homeowners and supporting volunteers who made the tour possible. She estimates that there were 350 paid ticket sales but there are donations still coming in. If you would like to donate too, just go to https://ArmoryParkTucson.org/donate/. As of 11/15, total revenue amounted to $7,012. From that total, expenses (about $500) must be deducted. Of the final net amount, 75% will be donated to Neighbors Feeding Neighbors.
The revenue and support of a worthy cause are important but for me not the most important benefit of the tour. Bringing so many neighbors together to work for a common cause and reminding all of our historic heritage is the greatest reward. All of us who opened our homes, volunteered as supporters or spruced up our sidewalks were enriched by the experience of working with our neighbors.
Armory Park is such a great place to live.
Anne Cooper and her team presented an excellent selection of Armory Park architecture this your. If you didn’t tour, you really missed a great experience. At least, here is a brief description of each place on the tour.
U 406 S. 4th Avenue – Philip Hughes Commercial Building Built between 1899 and 1907, the rusticated, locally-adapted Palladian features of this building are unique in Armory Park. Note the symmetrical and formal plan of the house and the simplified entrance with an arched window over the door and side window panels. The presence of sash windows on the interior of the entry hall is also unusual. Cannon & Associates, Inc. undertook a brick addition to the building in the 1990s, building in the back porch and adding office space on the upper and basement levels. The rock foundation was left exposed. Little of the original building has changed, and it is a fine example of adaptation of an historic house for commercial use.
136 E. 14th Street – Gomez House This 1906 Queen Anne Bungalow style, brick and stucco is one story with a hip roof. The original owner, Teofilo Aros (1860-1924), was the founder of the town of Sasabe and a wealthy cattleman with extensive Tucson realty holdings and mineral interests in Arizona, California and Mexico. But he also had enemies, who made at least two attempts on his life. In the second attempt, which occurred in 1916 or 1917, the house was bombed with dynamite in the middle of the night. Tucson realtor and developer Roy P. Drachman (1906-2000), who was then living on South Stone, remembered hearing a “tremendous explosion” that “shook the whole south end of Tucson.” According to Drachman, the entire front of the Aros home was blown off, and Drachman’s Safford School classroom lost all its windows and had a six-inch wide crack in one corner.
505 S. 6th Avenue – Whitaker House This 1902 two-story Queen Anne style residence has an Edwardian exterior with open and enclosed wooden porches, a decorative glass bay and oval windows, and an attic with gables. Used at various times as a doctor’s office and an antique shop, the house may have also been a bandit hideout. The stable/carriage house to the rear has been converted into an apartment. A Sears-Roebuck catalog kit house, added in the 1920’s, is accessible via its own entrance on 15th St. Behind the kit house and the stable/carriage house is the original workman’s house built around 1880.
447 S. Stone Avenue – The Gill/Porter House A 1922 custom built home for Demitrio Gill and his family in 1922. The architect was Henry O. Jaasted, a prominent architect in Tucson and also Mayor. The home stayed in the Gill family until 1991 when it was sold to Penelope Porter. The home has 4 bedrooms, a bath, living room, kitchen and dining room. There is also a screened-in sleeping room on the back. The house is built of the locally made soft bricks. There is a small guesthouse at the end of the drive way and a long shed that housed the Gill tent and awning company. On the east end of the property there was an adobe building of 7 or 8 rooms and a long screened porch. Left to deteriorate after years of neglect, it was refurbished by Ms. Porter into a garden and a covered patio.
475 S. Stone Avenue – Velasco House Don Carlos Ignacio Velasco bought this lot on 1878 and published Tucson’s first Spanish language newspaper in the building on the west end (Velasco house). He built the adobes at the east end for his family in the 1880’s and 1890’s and lived there with his wife until his death in 1914. The structures are Transformed Sonoran style. Looking at the simple front of this house, you would never guess what a large and beautiful garden hides behind it.
24 E. 15th Street – Amado House The Amado House is a two-story Queen Anne Victorian style home built in 1905 by prominent Southern Arizona cattleman Manuel Amado and his wife Ismuel. It was their home until sometime in the 1940’s. The Symphony Women’s Association (TSWA) purchased the home in the 1970’s and restored it to its original glory. The Amado House is listed on the U.S. National Historic Register. TSWA has operated The Treasure Shop in the house since 1984, selling antiques and collectables. All proceeds go to the Tucson Youth Music Center giving free music lessons, instruments, and books to underserved children.
236 S. Scott Avenue – Bring Funeral Home Bring Funeral Home was founded in 1928 by Alvin and Ella Bring and their son, Howard. The two-story, 13,845 square-foot building had a major addition in 1942. Howard’s daughter, Susan Bring, continued to operate the business until her retirement in 2011. The building sits on three parcels with a total lot size of 22,003 square feet. It adjoins the new 20,490 square-foot lot that Stone Avenue Homes, an affiliate of Holualoa Companies, purchased for a row housing construction project. The building currently houses The Owl’s Club, Ace of Escape, and Exo Coffee, with plans to add more retail shops and studios.
545 S. 5th Avenue – St Andrews Episcopal Church The Church consists of three sections constructed at intervals of twenty to thirty years apart. Each section reflects popular architecture of the time when it was built The original Mission Revival section, which faces 16th Street, is constructed of adobe and has a bell tower. It was desgined n 1930-31 by Josias T. Joesler, who was also the architect for St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church. Broadway Village Shopping Center, the Arizona History Museum and many beautiful Tucson homes. The “modern’ addition, facing 5th Avenue, was built between 1957 and 1959 and includes the brick chapel used by the congregation for services. It was designed by Ann Rysdale, the only registered female architect practicing in Arizona at that time. Finally, in 1987, a choir loft, complete with a new pipe organ, was added.
520 S. 4th Avenue This 1901 Victorian Queen Anne bungalow style house is constructed of double brick. The California bungalow-style porch was probably added in the 1920’s. Built to accommodate the large number of railroad personnel, the building was a duplex, and there are still two front doors. Significant renovations by the current owners, who purchased the house in late 2015, have restored some of the house’s original character as well as making it a single-family residence.
637 S. 4th Avenue Constructed in 1905, this traditional Anglo-Territorial bungalow is constructed of double brick with modern additions. It displays the hipped roofs and gable vents frequently found in Amory Park. Like several other 4th Avenue homes, the house sits on a large lot and has a guesthouse at the rear. For many years it was the residence of the Higuera family, a large extended family of Tucson and Sonora, Mexico. Renovated in the mid-2000’s, the current owners have added period electrical lighting and energy efficiency items throughout the property.
811 S. 4th Avenue – Stockman House Built in 1908, this Queen Anne cottage consists of a large living space, one bedroom, two bathrooms and a loft. Ten foot ceilings, heavy original baseboard, picture rail, and crown molding help create a period interior. Outside, the hipped roof has a tall ridge running north to south with decorative Dutch gable ends. A stone stem wall elevates the house, and creates a prominent front porch which is supported by two simple spindles under a small detailed frieze.
620 S. 3rd Avenue – Sils House Constructed for Southern Pacific boilermaker Joseph Sills in 1910, this Queen Anne style house is built of double brick on a stone foundation highlighted with salmon colored stone belt coursing. It has a high gable roof and turret. A classical Palladian motif occupies the south gable as an attic ventilator, and the gable ends are filled with stucco. Irregularity of massing is echoed in the complexity of the roof lines. The original screen porch has been expanded to include an additional bedroom, bath and family room and the original cellar is now a study.
485 E. Laos Street – Armory Park del Sol Built in 2004 by John Wesley Miller, this three-bedroom, two-bath home in Armory Park Del Sol features energy-efficient construction and solar panels. Masonry-filled double-block walls provide a heat/cold barrier mass; inner walls have steel studs; and floors are made of poured and polished concrete. The home is disability-accessible with wide doorways and a walk-in shower area. Armory Park Del Sol is a neighborhood-within-a-neighborhood consisting of 99 homes. Residences on the interior streets feature front porches surrounded by attractive flora. They are connected via lighted central sidewalks running the length of each row of houses, inviting leisurely strolls and neighborly visiting. Home exteriors are designed to complement the historical ambience of the larger Armory Park Neighborhood.
330 E. 13th Street – Clum House This turn-of-the century structure illustrates the “layering” of different architectural styles common n Armory Park. The original building, most likely a two-room late transitional adobe, is now the kitchen and west wing. It was soon remodeled into an Anglo-Territorial residence. Major remodeling took place around 1915, with construction of the red brick east wing and present roof and addition of the excellent bungaloid woodwork was in the original rooms. The Mission Revival Fagade, west gateway and original garage may have been built at the same time. Most recently A casita for guests, two-car garage with workshop, solar panels, landscaping and a pool/spa were added after 2012. Among the most colorful of the house’s many residents over the years is John Clum, who started the Tombstone Epitaph.
417 S. 4th Avenue – Bernard/ Cannon House This Queen Anne Style house was built between 1895 and 1897 by Noah Worthington Bernard, a stockman and first postmaster of Arivaca, Arizona. It has 13-inch thick brick walls and dormer and lunar windows. Drip pendants were placed under the eaves of the front porch and there is a partial basement. The porch at the rear of the house was closed in and bathrooms added for multifamily use around 1921. Additions also occurred between the 1950s and early 1980s to allow increased occupancy. These were demolished by the current owners, who restored the original front and rear porches and balusters. Author Ray Bradbury lived here as a preteen in 1932-33.
Following the tour, Esthermarie Hillman hosted and organized a great “thank you” event for those who opened their homes and the great volunteers who helped the homeowners and visitors. All of the food and drink was donated. These are the business who donated to the event.
- Mama Louisa’s, pasta, salad, breadsticks & dressing
- Isabella’s Ice Cream, ice cream
- BBQ 4 U, 5 full tri-tips
- Food city, 4 cases of water
- Wild Horse Oasis, spring rolls
- American Ice Company, 3 20lb bags of ice
- Micha’s, Mini chimmies & salsa
- Play Ground, veggie tray
- Johnny Gibson’s, chicken enchiladas and salad
- Thunder Canyon Brewery, case of beer
When you head out for shopping or dining, please think of these supportive businesses.
Here is what our Ward 6 councilmember, Steve Kozachik, had to say about the city election:
“I thanked people in the “Be Kind” section for calling out congratulatory comments as we pass on the street or out on the Loop. As I hope you know, last Tuesday we held citywide elections. Three council seats were up for grabs, plus a few ballot measures. I’ll share the final tallies here.
“We have over 400,000 registered voters in the city. Just under 35 percent took part in the election. While people who follow this stuff consider that a “good” turnout, I’m disappointed that only one third of registered voters participated. We address some important quality of life issues, manage a billion dollar budget, and there were important propositions on the ballot. There are still people who are mentally working through the November 2016 election, which many considered a surprise result at the presidential level. Please don’t sit out the 2018 elections coming next fall.
“Thank you to the 48,892 who voted in support of rehiring my staff and me for another four years. I think UA football coach Rich Rod would take a 60-32 final score every week if he could manage it. We at the Ward 6 office are grateful for your very solid vote of confidence. We look forward to continuing the partnerships we’ve established over the past eight years.
“I’ll add that Green Party candidate Mike Cease is a quality guy. He stopped by to congratulate me. He ran a principled and focused campaign and he’ll be around advocating for important environmental issues. I appreciate his involvement in the democratic process.
“We have a new member of the council. Paul Durham will join us after defeating firefighter Gary Watson. Both of those guys ran good campaigns and each is an asset to the community. I look forward to serving with Paul in the coming four years.
“Up above in the “Be Kind” section [of Steve’s weekly email] I wrote about the zoo propositions passing. We needed to adopt both in order for the one-tenth cent sales tax increase to become law. It will sunset in 10 years. During that time, we will see important investments in the zoo facility, including some not so sexy stuff like water lines and other infrastructure, and in other cases new and expanded exhibits for the animals. The zoo tax will help the Tucson Zoo at Reid Park to maintain their accreditation. One reason that’s important is the international wildlife conservation work they do. Without the accreditation by the Zoo and Aquarium Association, that work wouldn’t be possible. Thanks to all of you who saw the importance in passing these two measures. Soon we’ll be talking about management structure out at the zoo. These new dollars will be an important piece of that conversation.
“I don’t know of many (any?) people who don’t recognize the value of preschool education. Proposition 204 brought that discussion out into the light of day. I was on record not supporting 204, not because I disagree with the notion of quality preschool training, but because I felt the proposition as it was written was flawed in some important ways. Probably most importantly was that it was $50M per year forever, with few specifics drafted into how it would be allocated. The voters evidently saw that and other issues as it went down by nearly a two-to-one margin.
“Council members are paid $24K annually, plus a car allowance. That’s how it’s going to stay, 70 to 30.
“Political signs are coming down. Enjoy the clean medians and street corners. The 2018 election cycle will be here before you know it.’
Thanks to all of you who voted and especially those who supported Steve. –Ken
Another excellent home tour is just behind us and it would not have been possible without the contribution of many neighbors. Those who opened their homes allowed their neighbors and others to see more of the historic structures that help make Armory Park so special. Volunteer docents made it possible for many of us to open our homes to visitors. Even more, the tour showcased the sense of community that makes this a wonderful place to live.
Donna and I were pleased to open our home but it would have been much more difficult without our volunteer helpers. They managed the flow and answered many questions about the house. The two of us could not have managed without their help.
All of us who conducted the tour were given free tour tickets; that is entirely appropriate in return for the effort contributed. Nevertheless, many of us would still like to contribute financially to the worthy causes APNA supports. Fortunately, that is easy. If you click on https://armoryparktucson.org/donate/, you will be taken to a page on the APNA website where you can contribute to one of our worthy causes. Our personal favorite is Neighbors Feeding Neighbors. If you are feeling charitable, you can contribute there even if you were not able to participate in the tour.
Regardless of whether you choose to contribute money, we are grateful for the contribution of your time and effort.
I’ve been browsing through the Arizona Daily Star archives trying to learn more of the early history of Armory Park. Since we are about to have another home tour, that is a subject I decided to research.
The oldest tour I found was in May of 1975. The Star Article had this to say, “Armory Park began its flourishing career in the 1880s with the arrival of the railroad. It is “a showplace” for the evolution of architect styles of that era, according to Robert Giebner University of Arizona associate professor of architecture.”
ARMORY PARK HOME TOUR Sunday May 6th, Noon to 5
5.00 per couple, 3.00 per person. Self guided tour
begins on 15th St., between 3rd & 4th Avenue
The above appeared as a personal classified ad in the 5 May 1979 Star. You can see that prices have gone up slightly since then. The means for advertising our tour have become more sophisticated over the years. Electronic media and more comprehensive news articles spread the word of our tour across Tucson.
The 1981 tour featured 26 homes on this seventh home tour though the interiors of only ten of them were open:
- The Galloway House, 630 S. Third Ave. This house was built in 1904 and is an interpretation of the Queen Anne style. Past owners of the home have kept it in its
original form, including the Victorian woodwork and fireplaces.
- The Brockman House, 420 E. 18th St. Built in 1902, this home is of Anglo-Territorial style and has high ceilings, French doors, and a recently restored narrow front porch.
- The Evans House, 520 S. Fourth Ave. Built in 1901, this is a Victorian-style house constructed of double brick. It also has a California bungalow-style porch, probably added in the 1920s.
- The Contzen House, 611 S. Fifth Ave. An Anglo- Territorial-style house built around 1900, this home still has its original wood shingle roof. The front windowsills are of volcanic breccia, probably gathered in the Tucson Mountains.
- The Winsor House, 422 S. Fifth Ave. Built in 1902, this stucco-on-brick house was designed by early Tucson architect Henry Trost. Both the inside and outside of the house have been extensively restored.
- The Lowry House, 436 S. Fifth Ave. This is a Victorian-style house built in 1901. The front porch was remodeled in the bungalow style sometime after it was originally constructed.
- The Whitaker House, 509 S. Sixth Ave. Built in 1902, this is a Queen Anne house that has been completely restored.
- The Immaculate Heart Academy, 35 E. 15th St. The first Catholic school in Tucson, this building was constructed in 1886 and was also used as a convent. Stone from the “A” Mountain quarry makes up the lower floor.
- The Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave. Built as a cultural center in 1920, this two-story Spanish Colonial Revival building has 20,000 square feet that includes a theater and dance studios.
- The Debrig House, 245 S. Fourth Ave. This house was built in the early 1870s as two Sonoran-style adobe structures. The original building has a two-room living area and a detached kitchen that were later joined by a hallway.
In 1982, the Star said this about our neighborhood, “Armory Park is one of Tucson’s oldest neighborhoods and is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites and Places. The area was home to many well-to-do railroad employees and their families during the late 1800s. Many of the homes they built were in the Anglo-Territorial Style, characterized by wide, deep verandas and high pyramidal roofs.”
From 1981 through 1986 there were home tours every year, In some years there were two tours with one of them to raise funds for some special cause.
About the featured home for the October 2000 tour, the star had this to say, “Territorial
surveyor George J. Roskruge built the Queen Anne cottage in 1895. Its architect, James Miller Creighton, designed Old Main on the University of Arizona campus. Artist Georgia O’Keeffe used to paint in a studio next door.” The article continued with a photo and comments on the excellent woodworking detail on the cottage. This house was also a featured property in the “armory park:74 ff” study which led to Armory Park becoming a federally recognized historic neighborhood. If you want to read more about what the study had to say about this house, click here.
In March of 2000, the Star said this: the “…building is known as the Velasco House after a former owner, Carlos Velasco, who ran a print shop there, publishing Tucson’s first Spanish-language newspaper, El Fronterizo. The 1850s building predates Armory Park, the historic neighborhood it’s part of, and even the Gadsden Purchase….” The 1974 study also included this house. To learn more, click here.
Home tours are a long time and important feature of our neighborhood. Not only do the tours raise money for worthwhile causes, they also introduce other Tucsonans to our special community. Donna and I were introduced to AP by the 2015 tour and our 1905 brick bungalow is on this year’s tour; we hope to see you here.
Earlier this month I attended a Zoning Examiner hearing for a large Fry’s store, gas station and other stores in the Houghton East neighborhood planning area. The community was annexed into the city with a detailed and restrictive neighborhood plan as a precondition. The debate is about whether the project complies with the neighborhood plan. This was a rehearing because the first one did not include sufficient notice.
Most of the arguments pro and con were as expected. The church owning the property wants the cash from the sale of the property. The developer and some individuals tout the positive economic impact and convenience for those living in the area. Some opponents object to additional traffic, noise, artificial lighting and the usual sorts of things which might annoy those living nearby.
Those arguments were not the interesting part of the presentations. The Houghton East Neighborhood Association (HE) had several presenters who pointed out more substantive problems with the project. City code requires zoning actions to comply with neighborhood plans. These plans can be modified by a specific process which has not been done in this case. Among the plan’s requirements is substantial open space which must be undisturbed with original vegetation and no structures. It must also be contiguous. The project includes grading the entire area and constructing retaining walls and drainage within the “open space” which is also broken up by paved driveways. The city is evaluating the project as neighborhood commercial (small retail) while the over 100 thousand square feet of retail space seems more appropriately classed (by the code) as a Large Retail Establishment which has a much more stringent approval process. The proposed gas station is within the 100 year floodplain.
The HE neighborhood abuts the transition zone to the Saguaro East park and is considered by park staff to be an important part of the park’s environment. The large lot residential development does not negatively impact the transition zone or the park. The park superintendent testified against having a large business development within the HE neighborhood.
What does all of this mean for Armory Park? It is alarming that PDSD staff so readily disregards city codes (city laws) to approve a project seen as having economic benefits. We see evidence of this same approach to code compliance in the five HPZs (Armory Park is one). If we want to preserve our historic character, we may need to mount a vigorous defense as the Houghton East people are doing. We should watch how their case unfolds. I wish them luck.
At its October meeting, our historic board had one informal review to consider. Informal reviews are offered to help those who propose projects in our historic zone to avoid design problems at an early and hopefully less expensive point in their project’s development. This is what was posted in the Legal Action Review:
4. Informal Review, 726 S Bean Ave. Brian Kassel, property owner. Proposed construction on vacant lot. Members identified a number of issues Mr. Kassel will have to look at, covering both HPZ and other Code requirements. He was given the names and contact info for several City officials who could assist him in working through them before he completes his plans.
There were many issues likely to cause difficulties for the project as proposed so there were vigorous discussions and numerous possibilities offered. Issues of building height, two structures on a relatively small lot, a sewer easement and more. Mr. Kassel felt at first that the board was being adversarial in bringing up the many challenges but by the meeting’s end seemed to understand that the comments were in his best interest. PDSD staff with whom he had discussed his plans had not pointed out these areas of concern. Many issues were not of a historic nature but were basic code issues which should be dealt with elsewhere in the permitting process.
Near the end of the meeting, there was discussion of general issues:
6. Discussion of APHZAB Administrative Issues. There was a discussion of issues with the City approving proposals over the objection of HZABs, raised by Karen Costello from Barrio Historico HZAB. Ms. McClements reported on her presentation at the previous week’s Mayor and Council meeting. Mr. Duffy will send out an email announcing the November 14 election for 2018 APHZAB members in a special meeting.
The problem raised by Ms. Costello is only one of several ways the city fails to support the volunteer HZABs. Failure to provide boards with complete project information or feedback on final project approval details are two further examples.
I was at the M&C meeting where Ms. McClements made her presentation. She did an excellent job of explaining the important work of the APHZAB in applying federal historic standards to preserve our historic community. She was thanked by the Mayor for her presentation and the fine work of our board.
Please make a note of the board election to be held at a special meeting in conjunction with the APNA general meeting at 7 PM on 14 November at the St Andrew’s Parish hall. This board is very important to Armory Park so residents and property owners should participate in nominating board members. If you have time for this very important public service, please offer your name for election.
Once again our Armory Park neighbors come together for our premier community event. The Home Tour combines the two most important qualities of our neighborhood, our sense of community and its historic character. To buy your tickets for the tour, go to ArmoryParkTucson.org. Continue reading “Welcome Neighbors, Home Tour”