Category Archives: History

Comment upon City’s draft Historic Preservation Plan by Sept. 21

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PreserveHistoricPHX is the first comprehensive historic preservation plan for the city of Phoenix. Review and download a copy at http://1.usa.gov/VK5Kj8

PreserveHistoricPHX is being presented at numerous meetings open to the public between August and December 2014. The tentative schedule of these meetings is available at http://1.usa.gov/1p1kJfE

To comment on the draft of PreserveHistoricPHX, (1) attend one of the public meetings, (2) mail comments to the Historic Preservation Office, 200 W. Washington St., 3rd Floor, Phoenix, AZ 85003, or (3) email historic@phoenix.gov and reference Plan Comments. Please submit initial comments by the close of business on Sep. 21, 2014.

Things you won’t find in Phoenix

Op-Ed: City Must Review Historic Preservation Policies

Mayor Greg Stanton[Source: Greg Stanton, Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona Republic, January 4, 2012] – To be a successful and competitive city, we cannot ignore our past accomplishments. We must value our past and build on it. This principle is true in business, government, and culture, especially preservation of our architectural heritage. Our architectural history is a necessary part of Phoenix’s future economic development, but our record is mixed, some successes and some disappointments. It is time for Phoenix to revisit and improve its policy on historic preservation.

Countless studies have demonstrated that historic preservation is an economic engine. It costs less to reuse old buildings than to construct new ones. A recent analysis that examined Phoenix and other cities also showed conclusively that reusing old buildings is in almost every case environmentally sounder than new construction. Preserving old buildings creates a sense of place that is key to attracting and keeping talented employees and creative businesses. On every level, historic preservation significantly benefits a community.

Phoenix recently dodged a historic preservation bullet. One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most significant buildings – the David and Gladys Wright House – was threatened with demolition. For months, many volunteers worked to save the building.

These are the unsung heroes who labored behind the scenes to save the house: an anonymous donor to whom we all are grateful, Larry Woodin and Janet Halstead of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, Grady Gammage Jr., Will Bruder, Taz Loomans, Jim McPherson, Scott and Debbie Jarson, Alison King, Frank Henry, Roger Brevoort, Christina Noble, Colin Slais, Jennifer Boucek, Michelle Dodds of the Phoenix Office of Historic Preservation, Robert Joffe, and many others too numerous to list.

Preservation of the David Wright House is a victory for Phoenix, our state, and even globally. The effort has taught a sobering lesson: Phoenix’s approach to historic preservation, which has served us well for three decades, is not always adequate to accomplish our goals. We need to build on our past and improve our approach. Phoenix is maturing as a city, so we have an increasing number of historically significant buildings. Our current historic preservation tools sometimes are not up to the task.

It is time to begin a community conversation to reevaluate our priorities, policies, and procedures so we can be more effective in historic preservation and at the same time respect private property rights.

Phoenix has a proud history of building consensus through compromise. With thoughtful and respectful discussion, we can develop new policies that are right for Phoenix.

Beginning in the new year, I will assemble a team of skilled people to begin tackling this problem in an open process that will involve the entire community. With improved historic preservation policies, Phoenix’s best days are ahead.

A 2012 Downtown Phoenix Year in Review

SWOT Analysis[Source: Downtown Voices Coalition] – We emailed and chatted with a few “friends of downtown” to do a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) of downtown Phoenix in 2012. We asked, but didn’t insist, that the lists keep in mind our statement of purpose: “Downtown Voices Coalition is a coalition of stakeholder organizations that embrace growth in downtown Phoenix, but is mindful that healthy growth should be based upon existing downtown resources — the vibrancy of neighborhoods, the strength of the arts community, the uniqueness of historic properties, and the wonderful small businesses that dot downtown.”

Below are the lists – an even dozen each – that Brendan Mahoney (Mayor’s Office, City of Phoenix), Jim McPherson (Downtown Voices Coalition), Chelsea Smith (small business owner), and Sean Sweat (Central City Village Planning Committee) pulled together. What would you add? What would you delete? What would you modify? Can similar SWOTs be created for “the arts,” “sustainability,” and “midtown Phoenix,” for example? Let your (downtown) voice be heard!

STRENGTHS/OPPORTUNITIES

  • Central City South residents crafted their own Quality of Life Plan
  • City of Phoenix stood its ground against a low-density, unfunded Goldwater Library & Archives
  • “Downtown Phoenix” local history book published
  • Maricopa County South Court Tower completed (replacing, of all things, a parking garage)
  • METRO West Extension compromise reached, sparing the St. Matthew neighborhood
  • Mix of housing options blossomed (e.g., Oasis on Grand live/work apartments opened, Lofts on McKinley senior apartments opened, and Roosevelt Point apartments broke ground and unbundled parking)
  • Neighborhoods blocked Circle K expansion at 7th St. & Roosevelt
  • Pedal Craft bicycle, art, and community event rode into town (twice!)
  • Pop-up park on Roosevelt St. popped up, complete with murals, landscaping, and Peritoneum sculpture (note that Peritoneum sparked a conversation within City Hall that there should be a simple, one-size-fits-all process to activate vacant lots downtown. That process will be voted upon by City Council on January 16, 2013)
  • Seed Spot incubator opened in historic Warehouse District
  • Street and sidewalk improvements made on Centennial Way (Washington St. between 7th Ave. & State Capitol) and holiday lights returned to Central Avenue
  • University expansions, including UA Health Sciences Education Building (completed), ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus Recreation Center (under construction), UA Cancer Center – Phoenix (under development), and ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law (proposed)

WEAKNESSES/THREATS

  • City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Officer, Barbara Stocklin, summarily dismissed
  • First Street streetscape project (i.e., no bike lanes, car lanes are 14 feet wide, street parking is only 70% of what it could have been, trees shade cars not people, trees permanently lock the parking ratios on the west side of the road, and the corner radii are more than double what they should be. On the plus side, the existing ficus tree was spared from being chopped down.)
  • Implementation of Downtown Phoenix, Inc. delayed
  • Inconclusive planning for proposed Golub and Colliers developments
  • Legends Entertainment District continues to be a made-up district neither legendary nor entertaining (including suburban billboards and Visit LA banner on CityScape)
  • Madison & St. James hotels demolished
  • Maricopa County nixed bicycle commuter support station in Security Building
  • Phoenix City Council’s unanimous enthusiasm for downtown projects less likely because of budget issues and differing viewpoints
  • Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory (PURL) shut down
  • Still no downtown dog park
  • Urban Grocery closed
  • University expansions (above examples do not achieve ideal density, and the law school came at the price of the vintage Sahara Motel)

NEW Lifelong Learning Program at @asudpc ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at ASU

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at ASU is pleased to announce the opening of a new Downtown Phoenix campus program. The “A Taste of OLLI” grand launch will take place on Jan. 12 at the Cronkite Theatre in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism Building. The OLLI program provides short courses and lectures for participants ages 50 + at a nominal cost. Courses will be held at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus with most courses running four sessions.

All spring courses or lectures are taught by ASU professors, or emeritus professors in the fields of history, science, public health and current events. This will be a wonderful opportunity for residents of the Phoenix inner city area to be a part of the ASU community with courses designed specifically for them.

Among the course titles for the spring are: “History Detectives,” “Children and Adolescents within U.S. Culture and the Legal System,” and titles of some of the lectures are “The First 100 Years of Quantum Physics,” and “Crime, Violence and Public Health.”

The Spring Schedule will be available online in mid-December and available in print form after Jan. 1, 2013. Call Shirley Talley at 602 496-1191 or go here for more information or to register for classes.

Arizona Capitol Museum accepting applications for Fall Volunteer session

The Arizona Capitol Museum is now accepting applications for the 2012 Fall Volunteer session. Volunteers provide assistance to visitors, staff, and other constituents by leading tours, answering guest questions, staffing the Museum Store, as well as working on special projects in the Education and Exhibit areas as needed. Positions are determined by your interest and aptitude, and our current needs.

The Museum is open Monday through Saturday, and Volunteers typically commit one day per week from 10 am to 2 pm. Accommodations for other commitments, schooling, internship requirements, and other exceptions are negotiable as needed. “This season, I’m hoping more Downtown Phoenix residents apply, folks who can recommend the sites, restaurants, and hidden gems that our commuter Volunteers don’t know about yet,” added the Capitol’s Volunteer Manager Jason Czerwinski.

The Arizona Capitol Museum accepts applicants age 18 years and older (some exceptions can be made for 17 year old students). You do not need to be trained in history. All training is provided free of charge. Enthusiasm, a desire to learn, simple computer skills, and the ability to stand for extended periods, walking, and climbing stairs are basic requirements. To download an application and learn more about the Museum, please visit this webpage.

Environmental Memories of South Central Phoenix exhibit, Sept. 6 to Dec. 7

[Source: Arizona State University] – Long ago, the Salt River flowed through southern Phoenix. Canals lined with shady cottonwood trees carried water to farms. Families picnicked on the riverbank, caught fish, and swam in the refreshing water.

These and other memories of south central Phoenix from the late 1800s to the present will be displayed in a new exhibit. “Environmental Memories of South Central Phoenix” pairs research on environmental change, urban vulnerability to climate change, and environmental justice with local stories, photographs, and timelines to provide fascinating insights into some of Phoenix’s oldest neighborhoods.

The exhibit was researched, produced, and designed by a collaborative, interdisciplinary team of graduate students and co-sponsored by ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change and local community partners.

For more information, contact info@carvermuseum.com or visit azcmcc.org.

City of Phoenix urged to save Arcadia’s threatened Wright House

[Source: Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy] — A remarkable Frank Lloyd Wright house in Phoenix is under threat of demolition. Wright designed the house for his son David and it is unique among all his residential designs. Your support is needed to urge the City of Phoenix to approve historic preservation designation for the house thereby extending its temporary protection from demolition.

Individuals interested in saving and preserving the property may sign the change.org petition here. Arizona Preservation Foundation alert here. Modern Phoenix article on Arcadia teardowns here.

Evans Churchill Interesting Interiors Tour, Oct. 22

Historic downtown Phoenix warehouse on track for rebirth as farmers market

[Source: Emily Gersema, The Arizona Republic]

Many visitors to downtown Phoenix rarely step south of the railroad tracks.

But near the backsides of US Airways Center and Chase Field, visitors who do venture there will find streets lined with old brick and brownstone warehouses.

Several of these centenarian structures are vacant and decaying, their walls coated with the grime of neglect and age. A few have been preserved and reopened, such as the Duce restaurant, bar and clothing store near Central Avenue and Lincoln Street.

A Phoenix man obsessed with history, Michael Levine, 41, is determined to save the properties. He bought and preserved the fruit-company building that the Duce occupies.

Now, he is devoting a few weeks to restoring the original facade of the old Phoenix Feed & Seed Co. warehouse near Jackson and Second streets.

Levine said he hopes the building will get more recognition when Arizona celebrates its centennial next year. He is finishing his first phase of renewal for the building, which was constructed sometime around 1900-05.

A full preservation effort will cost about $2 million, which he cannot afford on his own.

Last week, Levine was seen standing on top of a lift, aiming the long nozzle of a pressure washer to blast each brick with 250-degree water at 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of pressure per square inch. Grime and crusts of old paint streamed down the building’s face into puddles on the old seed store’s dock.

Each blast exposed more of the building’s history. Signs had been painted and repainted over each other.

“Phoenix Feed & Seed” of the early 1900s became, in the 1940s, “Arizona Paperbox Company,” where workers manufactured the lightweight paper boxes that bakeries used for packing doughnuts, turnovers and other pastries.

“This building predates the railroad in Phoenix,” Levine said, recalling that the first tracks in Phoenix were laid around 1926.

Levine, who grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., got the building listed on the Phoenix Historic Property Register in 2004, a year after he bought it. He has scoured old newspaper articles and photos to piece together details of its former owners, tenants and uses.

The building was sold in the 1940s to Monty Mansfield, a Tucson businessman who spearheaded an airport authority in Tucson.

Although Levine often looks back, he also looks ahead.

He said this building will go through another personality change. Within the next year, Levine wants it to become the home of a farmers market, flanked perhaps by a cafe or other eatery. He already has cleared an initial hurdle: Last week, he received approval from a Phoenix Zoning Adjustment hearing officer for the market.