Category Archives: Historic Districts

Snowflake Council rehashes historic preservation ordinance

[Source: Donna Rescorla, The Independent] — Snowflake’s proposed historic preservation ordinance was under discussion again at the Oct. 14 council meeting. Town Manager Paul Watson presented a summary of the questions answered by councilors after the previous meeting. Asked whether the town should have an overlay district or just designate specific homes and businesses, all agreed they should have a district but some thought it should only be along Main Street rather than the area that has already been designated a historic district. That district is in the original town site. Most councilors thought property owners in the district should just receive recommendations if they want to change the look of the building or demolish it rather than having them adhere to certain restrictions. “Are we opposing having restrictions at all?” Councilor Charlie Hendrickson asked. “This would have no teeth or little. We need to have stronger control on those buildings that are designated as historic homes.” Hendrickson listed the Flake Mansion, Smith Home, Freeman Home and Stinson Museum, saying the town helped pay for renovations on these buildings and continues to pay for their operation and maintenance. Councilor Dean Porter said if the ordinance had no restrictions, they could stipulate that historic homes would have to have any changes approved. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Historic neighborhood storm damage in Phoenix

[Source: Barbara Stocklin, Phoenix Historic Preservation Office] — The Thursday August, 28, 2008 monsoon hit several of the historic neighborhoods, such as Willo, Coronado, F.Q. Story and Encanto-Palmcroft, particularly hard. Large trees toppled, causing damage to walls, garages and in some cases houses. In one case, an 80-plus year old oak tree fell on top of the historic house at 525 W. Coronado Street, causing the roof structure and front wall of the house to collapse. The Phoenix Historic Preservation Office is working closely with affected historic property owners to expedite the required city historic preservation review for storm repair-related projects to the extent feasible.

Florence IDA has been marching to its own beat for 40 years

[Source: Daniel Dullum, Florence Reminder] — Traditionally, IDAs exist solely as fundraising conduits. In 1968, the Florence IDA established its own independent approach that also includes land ownership and involvement in historic restoration. The IDA’s list of accomplishments is impressive. It includes restoration of the Suter house, the Brunenkant Bakery building and the building that houses Total Concept. They helped build Jacques Square, financed facades, and helped establish the Townsite Historic District.

And, when McFarland State Historic Park faced closure, the IDA prepared a comprehensive resolution that helped keep the park open in perpetuity. “We’ve done a lot within that 40 years,” Florence IDA president Peter Villaverde said. “I’m sure we’ve spent close to $2 million for various projects, starting with the Visitor’s Center, which is now going to be the Main Street headquarters. “My project is Jacques Square. We purchased that for $20,000, the town participated, the community participated. … The developer who restored what is now Total Concept was really impressed by what the community can do when working together, and donated the watering system for the trees.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Mark Cowling, Florence Reminder. Pictured: The reconstructed Cosmopolitan Saloon, one of the Florence IDA’s many accomplishments.]

Design manual to guide builders in Tucson historic areas

[Source: Tom Beal, Daily Star] — Diana Lett doesn’t believe students could or should be excluded from her neighborhood just north of the University of Arizona. She was a graduate student herself when she moved into her Craftsman bungalow a couple of blocks from campus 22 years ago. But she didn’t move in with five other students and six cars.

Feldman’s Neighborhood (pictured), slated to be the first university neighborhood to prepare a design manual to guide development under the Neighborhood Preservation Zone ordinance adopted by the Tucson City Council last week, would like to limit the impact of student housing in the area. The area has always welcomed students. Many of the homes have additional exterior doors for ease of renting out rooms, and many of the homes have guesthouses in the backyards, Lett said. There are motor courts and apartment buildings, but there are also streets of venerable single-family homes, some dating to 1900, that are part of Tucson’s historic fabric.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Greg Bryan, Daily Star.]

Florence homes receive historic markers

[Source: Daniel Dullum, Florence Reminder] — Six more homes in the Florence Historic District have received their own commemorative markers as part of an ongoing project of the Historic District Advisory Commission. “We really appreciate the town supporting getting more markers,” H. Christine Reid of the Pinal County Historic Museum said, “because when there’s more markers, it helps everyone realize the historic value of these buildings. They have a story behind them, not just a blank facade.

“People lived in them, they contributed to this area’s history.” Special markers were erected to honor the historic homes of prominent early Florence residents Elmer Coker, John Keating, William Jennings, George Brockway, John Zellweger and Dr. William Harvey. Reid explained that the Historic District Advisory Commission started the annual home tour originally to raise funds to purchase the markers. “Since then, the home tour has been delegated to other entities, so we’ve had to get funding from the town,” Reid said. “It takes about a year to get all the information gathered. At the museum, we use our archives and files to help document the information.”

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Daniel Dullum, Florence Reminder. Pictured: The historic Elmer Coker House.]

Light touch is just the right touch in old Phoenix home

[Source: Jaimee Rose, Arizona Republic] — Lew Gallo and Brad Plumley live together, own stores together and spend weekends knocking down walls, pouring concrete and renovating their 1937 home together. They’re still speaking. “We’re either very compatible or very crazy,” says Gallo, 42. Gallo and Plumley, along with friend Gregory Gordon, own decor hot spot Haus Modern Living in Scottsdale and Phoenix, and for eight years let their own home languish while they helped everyone else achieve insanely cool rooms.

Naturally, people wanted to know where they lived. Customers imagined a perfectly pared-down abode filled with Gallo’s handmade furniture and piles of Jonathan Adler goodies. Invitations were hinted at, magazine spreads expected. “People would get offended we didn’t invite them over,” Gallo says. The house was in “before” mode, so last summer, they dug in. The big news: The bathroom and master suite are nearly finished, and we have a sneak peek here today. They still have the rest of the house to go, but we can testify that many, many magazines will come calling when it’s through. The home is a vintage adobe in the Phoenix Homestead Historic District near 28th Street and Osborn Road. “Eleanor Roosevelt built this neighborhood for farmers that lost their land after the Depression,” Gallo says.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Baxter Imaging.]

Flagstaff debutes new Landmarks Design Review Overlay District

[Source: Karl Eberhard, Flagstaff Historic Preservation Officer] — A new ordinance has recently gone into effect, creating a new historic district in Flagstaff, known as the Landmarks Design Review Overlay District. This district is a floating overlay zone for individual structures and sites that could be located anywhere within the City limits. Applying the Landmarks Design Review Overlay District zoning designation to specific parcels would have the effect of making the design standards and guidelines applicable to such properties. The district is constructed for the preservation of a wide range of heritage resources including objects, structures, natural features, sites, places, or areas.

The design standards and guidelines introduce to Flagstaff “Thresholds of Significance”, for both heritage resources and impacts, and “Mitigation Measures”. The thresholds in the guidelines encompass a wide range of significance indicators. Though “generic” to serve many resources, the guidelines accomplish two basic but significant preservation and design goals. First, like many historic districts, they reference Federal standards for archeological and architectural resources. Second, they introduce “basic design compatibility” to the development review culture of the City.

As a tool, this action by the Council significantly simplifies the process for preservation efforts in Flagstaff by providing a “ready and waiting” zoning district and guidelines, eliminating six Council actions from the process. One landmark, the Ashurst House, located directly behind the more well know Pelota Court, has already been designated to this new district. The home was constructed in 1888 as the home of William Henry Ashurst, an Arizona Territorial Legislator and Flagstaff civic leader, and was the childhood home of Henry F. Ashurst. It is a good example of an early Vernacular Style house and an excellent example of the initial development of the Brannen Addition subdivision. It is independently eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and is a contributing structure within the pending Southside Historic District. The City owns several historic properties and expects to apply the Landmarks Design Review Overlay District zoning designation to these properties this year. Several private property owners are expressing interest in designation as well.

Post-war suburban houses are found to be worth preserving

[Source: The Economist] — The neighbourhood around Hoffman Park, five miles (8km) east of downtown Tucson, resembles a thousand others in the West. One-storey houses erected in the late 1940s and early 1950s sit behind scrubby gardens. Most are built of brick and roofed with asphalt. In some streets, mailboxes line the curb. A perfectly ordinary suburb—and, if the city gets its way, a future historic district. History is not, perhaps, the first thing that springs to mind in Tucson. Although it was founded in the 18th century, the city took shape after the second world war. Thanks to big employers, such as Hughes Aircraft, its population almost doubled between 1950 and 1960. Because land was so cheap, modest houses were built on large plots. Up to 3,000 houses a year were being built, luring buyers with models blessed with such names as the Monarch, the Savoy and the Windsor. Formica countertops, fitted carpets and coloured bathroom fixtures were commonly included in the price.

In general, a building needs to be at least 50 years old before it can be added to the National Register of Historic Places. Owners can choose to pay lower taxes in exchange for not adjusting their properties too much. Since Tucson grew so quickly in the 1950s, potential candidates for the register have mushroomed in the past few years. To help decide which ones to preserve first, the city has commissioned a study that identifies distinctive building and landscaping styles. Among them are such obscure inventions as the Tucson ranch house (wide and low-slung, with a white roof) and the “enhanced desert” garden, an improbable mixture of native cacti, flowering perennials and a little grass. Jonathan Mabry, the city’s historic-preservation officer, explains that Tucson wants to protect buildings from being torn down and replaced with “mini-dorms”—cheaply made structures rented to students at the University of Arizona. The city also hopes historic districts will foster a sense of community, which can be lacking in such a young, fast-growing place.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Tom Tingle, Arizona Republic.]

Nowakowski gives Phoenix residents chance to voice concerns

[Source: Sadie Jo Smokey, Arizona Republic] — Five central Phoenix historic districts border McDowell Road, and residents of those neighborhoods have told new District 7 City Councilman Michael Nowakowski that improving and revitalizing the thoroughfare is a priority. And Nowakowski is listening. Nowakowski on Saturday morning staged a meet-and-greet at Encanto Park Club House (pictured, Nowakowski on left). “How can we best serve you all?,” Nowakowski asked about 40 guests. “How can we bring the District 7 office back to your neighborhoods?” Resident leaders from Willo, Encanto-Palmcroft, Fairview Place, Coronado, Roosevelt, and Los Olivos shared their concerns and praised Nowakowski’s goal to give a voice back to the people.

Revitalization results have varied in the downtown area, with some neighborhoods just starting to see success, those in attendance said. Some expressed feeling hampered by gentrification, land speculators, or a city agenda that doesn’t take residents’ wishes and concerns into consideration. Gerry McCue, of Fairview Place, said a lot of money, time, and effort has been spent on behalf of the residents of the historical districts. McDowell Road, which bounds five historical districts, needs a new vision. “Something could be done to let (residents) use their own street, make it more pedestrian friendly,” McCue said. “There’s a lot of energy in historic districts to use their streets.”

Bob Cannon, president of the Willo Neighborhood Association, agreed. “We’re a little jealous of Melrose on Seventh Avenue,” Cannon said of the revitalized merchant area between Indian School and Camelback roads. “McDowell Road impacts everyone.” Nowakowski, a member of the Neighborhoods, Housing, Historic Preservation, Arts and Culture Subcommittee and Downtown, Economy, and Aviation Subcommittee, said he’s committed to listening to residents, developers, and business owners before making decisions. “When a developer comes to the council and says, ‘I want to come in and invest in this neighborhood,’ it’s our responsibility to go to the community and see if this is something they want and need,” Nowakowski said. “We want to start that conversation before the investor spends money on fees, consultants and development.” Nowakowski said he expects to have a plan for revitalizing McDowell Road from 19th Avenue to Arizona 51 in three or four months. “It’s been pretty easy being the councilman, I’m just listening,” Nowakowski said. “It’s easy to listen because you have the answers.”

Your next opportunity to meet Michael and his staff:
5th annual Crime Summit, 7:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Valley Garden Center, 1809 N. 15th Ave.
Community celebration, 1-5:30 p.m. Feb. 9, Bougainvillea Golf Club, 5740 W. Baseline Road.

For more details, call 602-262-7492. [Photo source: Arizona Republic.]