Historic Process Needs Improvements

At the June APHZAB meeting, the first item addressed was the roof replacement I commented on in a recent post here. The proposed re-roofing was recommended for approval and that there should be no fine levied. There was a lot of discussion regarding the reasoning for the requirement that re-roofing have a minor historic review. Roof coverings should resemble. where practical and visible from the street, the roofing materials used when the structure was constructed. Continue reading “Historic Process Needs Improvements”

Historic Review Controversy

Most of you have probably seen the conversation on our listserv regarding roof replacements and historic zone approval. The general subject of the conversation touches on something critically important to Armory Park. It also illustrates the difficulty of resolving differences of opinion, especially when individual freedom of choice is impacted. I feel that preservation of the AP historic character is vital to the future well being of our neighborhood. Without it, AP is just a group of old houses waiting to be demolished so that more profitable large buildings can be built. Nevertheless, reasonable compromise must be sought. Continue reading “Historic Review Controversy”

The Lee-Cutler House

Lee-Cutler House, 620 South Third Street

620 S 3RDa
Photo by Ken Taylor

This is the sixth and last in the series of articles about homes highlighted in the armory park:74 ff study which formed the basis for creation of the Armory Park Historic Preservation Zone. I will be doing more pieces on Armory Park history and historic homes as I can gather information from the study and other sources. Continue reading “The Lee-Cutler House”

The McGinty-Laos House

McGinty-Laos House, 647 South 4th Avenue

This is the fifth in the series of articles extracted from the armory park:74 ff study which647 S 4TH formed the basis for creation of the Armory Park Historic Preservation Zone. I am particularly fond of this house since I see it every day and its restoration was the work of Annie Laos and her family. I did a previous piece in the People & Places category with less of an architectural emphasis. You can fine that article here: Historic Gem on S. 4th.

647 S 4th 3a
Photo by Stephen Sinex

The McGinty-Laos House (1897)-can be referred to as being in the Anglo-Territorial style as it dates from the territorial period and exhibits definite Anglo influences. Verandas and porches face the south and west fronts and the east rear, tying the irregular plan into a unified massing. All this is capped with a dominant pyramidal roof form having additional gables projecting over plan projections on the south and west. There are many Queen Anne characteristics, such as the bay window of the living room. The wood porch displays simple Doric-like

647 S 4th 3b
Photo by Stephen Sinex

turned posts and no railing. Window openings have segmental arched heads while the doors are flat headed. The house was one of the first in Tucson to be mechanically equipped with a central cooling system. The interior exhibits a wealth of elaboration in Victorian wood detailing and appropriate furnishing. Today the residence is well maintained and displays all the charm, as well as the accumulation of nostalgia, characteristic of the Victorian era.

©1974 College of Architecture, University of Arizona


647 S 4th floor plan
Original floor plan by Gary Carlough

Zócalo Magazine

Even though Donna and I have lived in Armory Park for over a year now, we discover new things about our community almost every day. The latest find is the Zócalo Zocalo Magazine - May 2017 2magazine which covers Tucson arts, culture and living. Though coverage is not restricted to the downtown area, many articles and even advertisements are of special interest to those of us who live here. Free copies of the magazine are available  at  many Tucson businesses. If you want your print copy delivered, for $15, you can subscribe at http://www.zocalomagazine.com/subscriptions/.   You can also browse current and past issues at https://issuu.com/zocalomagazine for no cost. There are 11 issues each year.

My first exposure was to the May issue (the latest). Music and other events are wellZocalo Magazine - May 2017 covered with articles also featuring Tucson’s history. I particularly liked the piece on The Old Barrio which covers not only the barrios we see today but also those destroyed in the construction of the convention center. The list of regular features covers many interesting aspects of life in Tucson.

If you want to keep up with the many exciting things happening in Tucson, Zócalo magazine can help you.


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

Guitar Stars Shone

As we finish many of the chores we set for ourselves in our first year in Armory Park, we are beginning to take advantage of the many attractions which drew us to the neighborhood. One attraction we didn’t expect is the variety of entertainment/cultural events at St Andrews Church. Last Sunday afternoon was our first experience there, to see the Guitar Stars concert. The offerings were guitar performances by three great artists, each performing music of a different genre. Greg performed first with music based on the southern country style. Kathy’s offerings were demanding classical pieces. Gus’s music was the least expected for me since I had never before experienced jazz guitar. The performances all displayed the versatility of the guitar as well as the talent of the performers. To introduce you to the concert series and the performers, I extracted the following from the program:

St. Andrews Community Concert Alliance is a concert and arts series sponsored by the good people of St. A’s Episcopal Church, Tucson, Arizona. SACCA’s artistic director, Sheldon Curry, says, “The vision of SACCA is to provide a space for local artists to offer their gifts and skills. We hope to present concerts in various musical genres as well as theater, light opera, and dance. The acoustic at St. Andrew’s is one of the best, little known, aural treats in Tucson. That is part of the reason it birthed the highly successful St. Andrew’s Bach Society which outgrew our space and now calls Grace-St. Paul’s home.

Think of SACCA as SABS’s more wide-ranging kindred-spirit.

Greg Morton – Greg Morton has been playing the guitar for 47 years. Greg started out playing along with his identical twin brother Randal a Banjo player throughout the Mid South. Greg has played with artist such as Mark O’Connor, The White’s, Chet Atkins, Bill Monroe, and John Hartford to name a few. Greg and Randal played two USO Tours to Europe and The Orient and spent three years playing on the Don Ho Show in Honolulu, Hawaii. Greg now lives in Tucson where he plays at La Cocina and other Old Pueblo venues, and gives workshops to inspiring musicians.

Kathy Acosta Zavala – Ms. Acosta Zavala’s artistry has thrilled audiences in Tignes, France; Quebec, Canada; Lima, Peru and Arizona, USA. 2016 saw her professional debut concert in Peru, her cherished homeland, during the VI International GuitarFest.

She is a past winner of the Leonard and David Schaeffer Memorial Guitar Competition – the first woman to do so. She also received the University of Arizona School of Music’s prestigious Presser Foundation Award and the Sigma Alpha Iota Summer Music Scholarship.

After spending six months in Spain studying at the Masters in Classical Guitar Interpretation of the University of Alicante, she won second place at the “I International Guitar Competition for Latin American Female Guitarists” held in Sonora, Mexico.

Ms. Acosta Zavala plays a 2014 Gnatek guitar and is currently pursuing a Ph.D in musicology.

Gus Woodrow – Gus Woodrow gained widespread notice with his appearance, at age 17, as a classical guitar soloist on NPR’s “From the Top” radio program. It was taped live in Centennial Hall and aired to more than half a million listeners. This momentum led to his selection as one of 11 US classical musicians to participate in National Young Arts Week, for which he traveled to Miami to perform in the New World Symphony Center. The following summer, Woodrow played three weeks of concerts in Holland, Germany, England, and France. While doing so, he won or achieved top prizes in 10 national and international guitar competitions.

Restless to feed his compositional and improvisational interests, he turned to jazz guitar, and, drawing on a passion for diversity, began writing. Since early 2016, he has played regular concerts of his original music in groups ranging from jazz trios to large rock bands.

The event was well attended though there were seats available for more who might want to enjoy fine music. The location couldn’t be more convenient for us in Armory Park and the suggested donations of $15 per person or $25 per couple were certainly reasonable. The venue has wonderful acoustics but you might want to bring cushions for the wooden pews. The concert was announced on our listserv and you should watch there for future offerings. If this event is any indication, you won’t go wrong here.

APHZAB and APNA Meetings

The meeting was scheduled as a general member meeting of our neighborhood association but became two meetings in one. Jack McLain’s departure from the Historic Zone Advisory Board created a vacancy which board chair Bill Duffy wished to fill. Giovanna Hesley was nominated to fill the vacancy and the assembled AP residents elected her to be recommended to replace Jack. Bill thanked Jack for his excellent service as a board member and chair. John Burr was nominated to fill a special expertise position on the board based on his experience and education in historic architecture. He was also elected without dissent.

The APNA meeting opened with a presentation by the group which has been studying the Armory Park, namesake for our neighborhood. They have been collecting information which will allow the park to be closer to its historic roots while best meeting community needs. That is a significant challenge. It is used as the gathering point for many large events, most recently the Women’s March and the March for Science. The senior center now sitting where the armory once stood, occupies a large part of the park’s east side. These functions are important to the community and should not be lost. The military origin of the park and the military memorials placed there over the years are important parts of the park’s history and should continue to be honored.

The park earlier had many more trees which have been lost over the years. As they died or were removed, replacements were not planted. A 1948 overhead photo showed very little unshaded grass unlike the open expanse of today. The traditionally styled band shell had become cosmetically deteriorated and was removed. It was replaced by a modern bandstand in a different location.

When a digital copy of the report is available, it will be posted on the ArmoryParkTucson.org website and I will write further articles here about the park’s history and future.

Anne Cooper reported that there were nine homes planned for the upcoming tour and that several of them are particularly noteworthy. She is looking for a few more to bring the total to 13 – 14.

DeeDee and Michael Means have cleaned up five of our roundabouts.  They removed weeds and dead plants. Trees and shrubs were trimmed to more attractive shapes. This complements the cleanup work along our major avenues led by Martha McClements. DeeDee is organizing an upcoming event of socializing on the many porches which are such attractive features of our community. She is looking for help to get this going.

There was discussion of the problems created by commercial truck traffic passing through the community. It is not practical to enforce the 26′ limit as posted on signs and many trucks are 24′ long. Approaching the companies associated with the trucks may be the most promising avenue.

Plans for development of the vacant lot at 5 Points are still moving along. It seems likely that the property will become an HPAD (see glossary), leaving our historic zone but retaining some historic restrictions. The biggest issue is still the overall height allowed for a proposed building. The stakeholders are continuing to meet and hope to have agreement before the formal review process goes further. As economic values of area properties increase, there will probably be growing pressure to remove properties from historic zones.

David Bachman-Williams will be performing the board secretary’s duties going forward.


A Novel Menu at 47 Scott

47 Scott is the name of an excellent restaurant as well as an address. Donna and I just had a great meal there early Sunday evening. The experience began with perusal of the varied menu of novel selections. The ingredients were not particularly unusual but their combinations and the recipes were. Take a look before I go on.

47 scott dinner menu

Donna chose the Phyllo Wrapped Chicken. The juicy chicken combined with the spinach and chicken jus to make a delicious centerpiece for this offering. The smashed yukon gold potatoes and baby carrots were fine accompaniments. She was very pleased with her choice.

I selected the smoked pork dijonnaise. The combination of pork, wilted kale and long baked sweet potato wedges worked very well together. I am not a fan of raw kale in salads but cooked it added tasty greens to the plate. Not being a salt user, I found the pork to be a little too salty for my taste but that may have been only the case for this particular experience. It could have been a little more tender also. In spite of these comments, I really enjoyed my meal.

We both took advantage of the happy hour menu which offers food as well as beverages. 47 scott happy hour menuWe shared the Brussels & Bacon offered at $5. On the regular Cast Iron Sides menu it would have been $8. The sprouts were cooked slightly crisp and the bacon teamed with the sauce to make a delicious dish. The main dishes were ample so we took some of this home.

We might have walked here but with Donna’s knee bothering her, we drove. I parked on the street at 5:00 but if that isn’t possible there is a parking garage across the street.

If you would enjoy a novel menu from common ingredients, this is the place for you. Give it a try.