Old Armory Park Adobe

Velasco House, 471 South Stone Avenue (475 S Stone today)

475 S STONE, small
Photo by Ken Taylor

This is the fourth in the series of articles extracted from the armory park:74 ff study which formed the basis for creation of the Armory Park Historic Preservation Zone. Apparently the rehabilitation referred to in this article has been completed. The exterior is in excellent condition today in contrast to the photo in the study document.

This building was apparently built sometime in the 1860’s, in a man­ner typical of

475 S Stone floor plan, small
Plan by Gary Carlough

construction in Sonora and southern Arizona during the early territorial period. It has a central ZAGUAN or entry hall with flanking rooms and additions extending to the rear defining an interior court. The original plan was L-shaped, with other rooms added as necessary.

Of adobe construction, with walls 18″-24″ thick, the original portions of the house have ceilings 14 ‘ —15 ‘ high. Fireplaces were located in all rooms except the ZAGUAN. Although the structure borders on the Armory Park area, and does represent a building tradition which preceded the major development of the area, it is a common building form and is reflected in some of the later houses in the district.

The extremely thick walls, built over stone foundations, were both an environmental response to the heat of summer and a product of technological limitations. The thick walls

475 S Stone old photo
Photo by Larry Lauser

served as a ‘heat sink’ providing moderation of temperature differential over a twenty-four hour period. The pattern, size and placement of windows and doors are characteristic of buildings of this tradition. Doors are set deep within the walls while windows are placed at the exterior surface.

The house was purchased by Don Carlos Ygnacio Velasco in 1878, at the time he founded the Spanish-language newspaper, EL FRONTERIZO, which was published continuously until Velasco’s death in 1914. The newspaper was an important contribution to what was at the time a predominantly Mexican community. Velasco’s printing office occupied this building while he resided in a smaller house at the rear of the lot.

The Velasco House is currently in the process of being rehabilitated. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the only Armory Park district structure to be so listed. This house is one of only three seen on the east side of the present Stone Avenue in an 1882, photograph taken from Sentinel Peak.

©1974 College of Architecture, University of Arizona

Author: Ken Taylor

I am a relatively recent Armory Park resident (2/16) along with my wife, Donna and our little dog Lulu. In our 7+ decades, Donna and I lived over 30 years in Anchorage, Alaska before moving to Arizona. We have been Arizona residents for 16 years before coming here including 12 in Green Valley and four in west Tucson. We love the neighborhood for its history, walkability and interesting residents. Lulu insists on walking every day so you may see us following her around and picking up trash to keep our neighborhood presentable.

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