Category Archives: Adobe

Oro Valley’s Steam Pump design idea topic of public meeting

[Source: Patrick McNamara, Explorer News] — A public meeting was held for the Steam Pump Ranch master planning process last Thursday. Architect Corky Poster of Poster Frost Associates, the firm contracted to create a master plan for the historic property, gave a presentation on a possible final design scenario. Working with the Steam Pump Ranch Task Force, a group of citizen volunteers, the firm has distilled the final scenario from three preliminary plans. One scenario, which the task force called “Eras of Oro Valley History,” included proto-history and Native American displays, Arizona territorial representations, statehood and town incorporation exhibits.

Another option, termed “A Day in the Life,” consisted of ranch recreations circa 1944. The year was chosen because researchers believe buildings from most prior eras of the property were in place then. A third choice included major elements from two dominant periods in the history of Steam Pump Ranch: the founding of the property in the 19th Century, and the post-1933 era when the Procter family bought the ranch. All of the scenarios included variations on a visitor center that would inform guests of the property’s history. The ultimate goal is to have the property registered with the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Register of Historic Places. German immigrant George Pusch settled the site in the 1870s. It acted as a stopover for ranchers driving their cattle to rail stations on Tucson’s west side on their way to markets in the east. The property got its iconic name from Pusch’s use of a steam-powered pump used to bring up ground water at the ranch.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Arizona Daily Star. Pictured is the adobe building which used to enclose the steam-operated water pump that gave the ranch its name.]

Status report on efforts to preserve Scottsdale’s Kerr Cultural Center

[Source: Patricia Myers, CCKCC chair; Kathy Howard, CCKCC co-chair] — A total of 42 friends of Kerr Cultural Center submitted comment cards favoring preservation at the Jan. 10 meeting of the Scottsdale Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). Of those, 21 spoke in favor of the proposal. No one was opposed. ASU’s representative asked for a continuance to propose an alternative to historic preservation overlay rezoning, called a preservation easement. Research reveals that this designation might be stronger than the usual HP rezoning. We are optimistic that a properly written document could ensure Kerr continuing as the arts and cultural venue that Louise Lincoln Kerr envisioned when she willed it to ASU in 1977.

The HPC instructed city staff to meet with ASU representatives and work out a satisfactory agreement within 60 days. If this is accomplished, there will be a progress report to HPC next month, with the final report and vote at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 13, when we will again need support. If the vote is in favor, the issue will go the Scottsdale Planning Commission, then to the Scottsdale City Council in late spring, where we again will need attendance support of 100 or more.

We are appreciative of support for our grassroots organization, Concerned Citizens for the Kerr Cultural Center (CCKCC), particularly from the more than 250 people who signed our petition on behalf of the preservation of this remarkable jewel in the desert. We continue to collect signatures, so if you wish to support the cause, click here to download, complete, and send in the petition.

CCKCC was formed out of concern about increasing development and a rezoning request in the immediate area of the Kerr center. We began meeting in February 2007 as an advocacy group for supporting and preserving the unique identity and original purpose of this remarkable and historic adobe arts center — a facility without peer or parallel. Louise Lincoln Kerr, daughter of John C. Lincoln, was a gifted musician and arts advocate who built the adobe performance studio in 1959, nearly 50 years ago. Her will specifically expressed her fervent wish for the center to continue in its original purpose. The Kerr is renowned as a unique cultural venue, attracting people from throughout the Valley and across Arizona, the Southwest, and West Coast. Those who attend come from as far as Sun City West, Fountain Hills, Sun Lakes, Chandler, Carefree, Flagstaff, Prescott, and Tucson.

CCKCC will continue to monitor the progress of the discussions for preservation easement, and keep you in the loop as elements develop.

Scottsdale postpones decision on Kerr Cultural Center

[Source: Lesley Wright, Arizona Republic] — Scottsdale’s Historic Preservation Commission on Thursday reluctantly gave in to Arizona State University’s request to postpone designating the Kerr Cultural Center as an historic property. On her death in 1977, composer and arts patron Louise Lincoln Kerr bequeathed her home and performance hall at 6110 N. Scottsdale Road to the university so famed concerts and programs could continue there.

ASU had asked that the proposal be withdrawn, but came up with a compromise at the 11th hour. If the city withheld an historic zoning overlay, the university would draw up an easement, a legal document that preservation experts said would give the buildings greater protection.

The commission voted 6-0 to continue the item until March 13. “It seems to me we have to be practical and operate in the real world,” said Commissioner George Hartz.

It was a disappointment to the crowd of about 40 musicians, professors, and arts lovers. No one who spoke displayed much trust for the ultimate goals of the university, especially after Commissioner Chair Ed Wimmer read part of a letter from ASU’s real estate division complaining about the cost of maintaining the adobe buildings in the desert environment.

“Apparently, the new American university does not care much about the old,” said Jim McPherson, former president of the Arizona Preservation Foundation, which placed the Kerr Center on the state’s Most Endangered Historic Places list last year.

The adobe bricks, handcrafted by Mexican artisans in 1948 and 1959, are a significant part of what makes the Kerr buildings of such iconic significance, preservationists said. Debbie Abele, the city’s historic preservation officer, said that the one-story, five-room house and the studio were stunning examples of Spanish Colonial revival — the signature style of the Southwest.

[Note: Related article in East Valley Tribune:]

Tempe gives OK for Monti’s towers

[Source: Garin Groff, East Valley Tribune] — Tempe finally approved plans for three towers next to the historic Monti’s La Casa Vieja on Thursday. The City Council unanimously approved the 1.1-million-square-foot hotel and condo project following months of controversy and changes to the proposal at Thursday night’s meeting. Tony Wall of Scottsdale-based 3W Companies said he will first build a hotel along Mill Avenue while restoring the historic La Casa Vieja. He said he would later build two condo towers rising 257 feet.

The first version of the plan would have placed a 300-foot tower directly above the historic La Casa Vieja, which triggered preservationists to blast the plan. The adobe structure likely would have crumbled during construction, critics said, or at least be obscured by piers supporting the tower. Wall then backed the tower away from the adobe structure and won praise from former critics — though neighboring landowner US Airways called for a “good neighbor height” of 225 feet. Tempe’s elected officials had blasted the airline as a bully for refusing to agree to various concessions offered.

La Casa Vieja was built in 1871 by Tempe founder Charles Trumbull Hayden. The house also served as a general store, boarding house and community gathering place. It’s the Valley’s oldest continuously occupied building, often called the most significant historic structure in the metropolitan area.

Supporters of Scottsdale’s Kerr Cultural Center ask for your help on Jan. 10

[Source: Arizona Preservation Foundation “Action Alert!”] — The Kerr Cultural Center (KCC), a cultural icon for Scottsdale performance arts for nearly 50 years, is a Valley historic treasure — a valuable vestige of the John C. Lincoln family, and a fitting remembrance of Louise Lincoln Kerr, one of Arizona’s brightest composing and performing lights. KCC has been a performance venue for lectures and musical performances from the likes of Barry Goldwater to Pablo Casals. Today, it continues to serve the community with a variety of cultural events. It is listed on the APF’s 2007 Most Endangered Historic Places List.

Now you — people who care about Arizona’s cultural heritage — are needed to attend a meeting Thursday, January 10, at 5:30 p.m. when the Scottsdale Historic Preservation will vote on whether to designate KCC. ASU representatives will be present, and a huge turnout is needed to show them and the Commission that there is major community support for KCC historic designation.

A grassroots committee — Concerned Citizens for the Kerr Cultural Center (CCKCC) — continues to be proactive on behalf of this longtime (since 1959) and unique cultural venue in Scottsdale. Increased nearby development (e.g., Borgata makeover) and a rezoning request last March for the adjacent property north of the Kerr prompted citizens to take action. Their goal is to focus attention on this irreplaceable property, bequeathed by Louise Lincoln Kerr to ASU to be used as a public performance resource.

Last June, CCKCC requested historic preservation designation for KCC via the Scottsdale Historic Preservation Commission. They are now in the second phase: presentation to the Commission. Next will be consideration by the Scottsdale Planning Commission. Final action will require a vote by the Scottsdale City Council (likely in Feb. or March).

Historic overlay increases the visibility of the value of the property to the entire community, not just the owners. The 1977 will of Louise Lincoln Kerr clearly spelled out her wishes that the KCC continue to be a venue for Valley performance arts. It was with this understanding that she bequeathed the property to ASU. At this time, ASU has issued no official response, pro or con, regarding the preservation move. But CCKCC has heard that some ASU administrators oppose historic designation for KCC.

What you can do

CCKCC presents its case for the KCC historic preservation overlay at a very important meeting, and it needs many people there to show support. APF members and friends are encouraged to attend (and forward this information to others who care about Scottsdale’s heritage; just click on the envelope symbol at the bottom of this entry).

For more information about this issue, contact Patricia Myers, CCKCC Chair, c/o P.O. Box 4201, Scottsdale, AZ 85261-4201. For more information about historic preservation in Scottsdale, visit

Group discusses how to save historic Florence adobe

[Source: Florence Reminder] — A charrette led by architect Stephanie Rowe was held recently for the historic Celaya, Long, Sweeney House at 170 West Ruggles St. “A charrette is a collaborative session in which a group of designers drafts a solution to a design problem.” Participating in this session were: Connie Hills, Jerry Ravert, John Edwards, Kate Edwards, Jess Knudson, Bonnie Bariola, Bob Ingulli, and Jim Garrison. The group first met at the site and examined the building. State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison explained several distinct differences in this building from other historic adobe buildings. He said the vertical cracks in the walls in this building are different because adobe walls usually have horizontal or angular cracks. Once Jim explained that square nails were used prior to 1890, some members of the group found square nails, verifying the house had been built prior to 1890.

Since Connie Hills lived in this house when she was young and her relatives lived in it until it was abandoned after a storm in 1997, she was able to provide specific information about the original building. The original windows were still in place when she lived here. New energy efficient windows should be installed that are more compatible with the historic character of the building than the ones that have replaced the original windows. Jerry Ravert pointed out the importance of rehabilitating the high lintel above the kitchen door. Together the group determined the original building had only two rooms with the long room across the front on Ruggles and a smaller room to the northeast creating an “L” shape building. A kitchen was added later to the northwest side of the long room creating an almost square building. A porch on the west side was enclosed in 1970 to make a small bedroom and a bathroom. Kate Edwards suggested this room be saved if possible and suggested it could be used for storage or a small office space in the rehabilitation. [Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Florence Reminder.]