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.