Category Archives: Arizona State University

Fight to protect Scottsdale’s Kerr Cultural Center continues

[Source: Kathy Howard, Concerned Citizens for the Kerr Cultural Center] — The next important meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, April 10, when the Scottsdale Historic Preservation Commission meets. The location will likely be One Civic Center, 7447 E. Indian School Road, Scottsdale (the site of previous meetings). Please plan to attend, fill out a comment card, and speak if you’d like.

Last Thursday’s Historic Preservation Commission meeting focused on the “final draft conservation easement” agreement proposed between the city of Scottsdale and Kerr’s owner, ASU. The draft would protect only the two historic buildings and immediate grounds. More than 70 supporters attended the 90-minute discussion; more than 20 spoke fervently in favor, including musicians, Kerr and Lincoln family members, community leaders, and preservation advocates. The speakers repeatedly asked that three provisions be added to the agreement: the adjacent parking lot, KCC’s continued use as a performance venue, and preservation of the interior. Many speakers echoed the powerful mantra that “ASU should do the right thing.” Because citizens rarely attend these meetings, the Commission saw vividly that Kerr supporters are serious about preserving the Kerr Cultural Center under the terms and conditions Louise Lincoln Kerr spelled out in her will.

The Commissioners discussed and agreed not to vote approval of the “final draft.” Instead, the Commission instructed city staff to further negotiate the easement to add usage, parking lot, and interior protection. (Concerned Citizens for the Kerr Cultural Center asked for these elements in February, but city staff added only the Rose Lane/private drive access and 50-year coverage.)

The morning after the meeting, major reportage was printed in the Arizona Republic (daily Valley section, not just Scottsdale zone) and East Valley Tribune. You may view the articles at and

Next step in helping to preserve Scottsdale’s Kerr Cultural Center

The next important meeting to put on your calendars will be 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 13, at One Civic Center, 7447 E. Indian School Road, when the Scottsdale Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled to vote on a conservation easement. Patricia Myers, Chair, and Kathy Howard, Co-chair, of the Concerned Citizens for the Kerr Cultural Center (CCKCC) hope that a large number of Kerr supporters attend to sign comment cards and speak in favor. The proposal will then go to City Council, date to be determined.

Positive progress is being made to preserve the two historic adobe buildings of the Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale. Although the one-year-old grassroots organization, CCKCC has aggressively pursued Historic Preservation Overlay Zoning from the City of Scottsdale, another designation was proposed and appears to be stronger for protection. It is called a Conservation Easement. In contrast, historic overlay zoning would have had no strength because a state entity has sovereignty that a city cannot usurp.

Meetings to discuss the conservation easement provisions have been held between the city and representatives of Arizona State University, which owns and operates the cultural center. At the Feb. 14 meeting of the Scottsdale Historic Preservation Commission, 11 specific provisions were discussed. The key point has the easement running with the property and will apply to future owners. That means if the Kerr were sold by ASU, the buildings could not be destroyed. However, the easement does not cover the function of the Kerr as a cultural center.

At the February 14 meeting, we asked for more precise provisions: include the usage, include the parking lot, designate length of time of easement coverage and provide for roadway accessibility. These are being presented in a future meeting between the city and ASU.

FYI, a rezoning sign on the property immediately adjacent to the Kerr last year prompted the organizing of CCKCC. The organization now has 500+ signatures in support of the Kerr remaining as a functioning arts center. That rezoning issue (immediately north for condos and an enlarged conference center) is in limbo because the city of Scottsdale asked for changes to the plans, which have not been made. But the rezoning request has not been withdrawn.

Also, ASU restored the adobe exterior and the doors last fall, but no funds were available for interior improvements, hence a benefit event at 2 p.m. Sunday, February 24, with musicians and staff working without pay. Funds from the performance and a silent auction will go toward interior enhancements. There will be complimentary hors d’oeuvres and dessert, coffee and tea, with wine and beer for purchase. Tickets are $65 reserved, $50 general admission. If you are interested in attending this concert of classical, Renaissance, and jazz (Gershwin), call the Kerr at 480-596-2660.

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.

ASU in downtown Phoenix initiates Urban & Metropolitan Studies program

Click on the graphic to enlarge the text. Now recruiting for Spring and Fall 2008. Details at

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:]

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