Welcome Neighbors, Home Tour

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.

This year Anne Cooper and her team of volunteers has put together a collection of 14 homes and businesses exemplifying what makes Armory Park such an excellent place to call home. Without the work of our volunteers and the willingness of homeowners to open their doors to others, this special event would not be possible. Donna and I do most Tucson home tours and feel that Armory Park displays the most interesting historic examples in a relatively compact area. Anne’s persuasiveness and our fondness for the neighborhood prompted us to add our home to the tour this year. Here is something about our house:

Description: Our house is a traditional Anglo-Territorial bungalow of double brick construction with more modern additions. Constructed in 1905, it is a contributing IMG_2450bproperty to the Federal Historic District designation. It displays the hipped roofs with gable vents which are common in Armory Park but unusual in cooler parts of the country. The original porch was likely of wood construction. The brick replacement is more durable and looks appropriate but the masonry is not of the same quality as that of the rest of the house. The double hung windows of the den (former bedroom) are original and in excellent condition. Unfortunately, the windows in the parlor and dining room are mid-century additions but do allow additional light and view. The lot is over a quarter acre and reaches between 4th Avenue and Railroad Avenue giving us vehicle access to the rear. There is also a guesthouse at the rear. The energy conserving solar hot water system is placed to not be visible from the front of the house.

History: We have been unable to learn so far who built our house. We know it was owned and occupied for many years by members of the Higuera family, a large extended family of Tucson and Sonora, Mexico. An internet search disclosed the name of Joseph Higuera associated with this address. We learned that they lived here as far back as 1944 because that year the Tucson Citizen reported the capture of their son in Europe. In the mid-2000s, it was sold to a speculator who did extensive renovation but lost money because of the 2007 real estate market collapse. The house was bought by Nancy McDonald and Karen Olson who owned it until our purchase in 2015.

Expansions and Renovation: The house has had at least two additions. The original double brick bungalow had two bedrooms (one now our den) joined by a jack & jill IMG_2637abathroom. The master dressing room and closet were added later. The kitchen was extensively updated by the speculator and has modern fixtures and finishes. All of the electrical and plumbing systems were updated at the same time. Toward the rear of the house all you see (except the laundry/pantry) is the result of relatively recent additions. Over the years, a number of structures and a large tree in the back yard have been removed.

Our Touches: Before we moved in, we repainted the entire interior to be similar to what we found. The major difference is that the trim, mouldings and medallions are no longer white. To retain a period correct appearance, electrical items have been replaced with period replicas in the more historic front part of the house. The exterior stucco surfaces were all white but we repainted to reduce the glare in our bright sun. Trim was repainted in the existing colors. The turf is a recent addition. We added a carport for covered parking. The attic has been insulated and several awnings installed for better energy efficiency.

Our Neighborhood: The historic character and convenience to downtown are the most conspicuous features of Armory Park. Less obvious are the sense of community, the diversity and the tolerant attitude of most residents. All of these things attracted us here. Others are also buying properties and giving them a new lease on life. Armory Park is on an upswing phase of its long life and it’s great to be a part of it.

We look forward to meeting more of our neighbors during the tour.

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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