If You Missed the Tour

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 1878475 S STONE, small 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 Sills620-s-3rda.jpg 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.

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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