Preservation of Historic Buildings and Structures

Adkins House, Fort Lowell Park

In 2012 the City of Tucson used federal Community Development Block Grant funding to stabilize and restore the appearance of a historic adobe house on the Adkins Parcel within the historic site of Fort Lowell. This property is owned by the City of Tucson, and will be added to Fort Lowell Park and opened to the public upon completion of the restoration of three historic Officers’ Quarters with Pima County bond funding. The original adobe part of the Adkins family residence was built in 1934, and then added onto circa 1940. This building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing property in the Fort Lowell Historic District. The Master Plan for Fort Lowell Park does not identify a specific use for this building; its use will be determined in the future.

In 2012 the City’s stabilization project received a historic preservation award from the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission.

Charles O. Brown House, 40 W. Broadway Boulevard

The adobe buildings on this property were built between 1879 and 1888 by Charles O. Brown, proprietor of the Congress Hall Saloon which served as the meeting place for the first Territorial legislature during the period when Tucson was the Territorial capitol (1867-1877). In 1963 the property was donated to the Arizona Historical Society to ensure its preservation. In 1971 it was one of the first three buildings in Tucson to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Between 2009 and 2011 the City of Tucson Historic Preservation Office provided funding for emergency repairs and obtained a preservation easement on the Jackson Street building.

Charles O. Brown House, National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form
 

 

 

El Tiradito Shrine and La Pilita Museum, 418 and 420 S. Main Avenue

 

Major repairs and restorations of El Tiradito Shrine and adjacent La Pilita Museum were completed in 2010 with funding from the budget of the City Historic Preservation Office. These properties are owned by the City of Tucson. El Tiradito Shrine is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is also a City Historic Landmark. El Tiradito is a traditional cultural place of particular signifance to the neighborhood and larger Hispanic community in Tucson. La Pilita Museum is operated by the non-profit La Pilita Association and provides historical education programs for the Carrillo School and exhibits about the culture and history of the oldest barrio in Tucson and Arizona.

El Tiradito (The Little Castaway, or The Little Fallen One) has a long and imperfectly documented history.  An account in the Arizona Daily Star on March 15, 1931 describes an incident some 45 years earlier in which “a gambler became enamored of the wife of another man.  Shot by the enraged husband, he staggered away, finally fell and died on the spot now covered by El Tiradito.” The original site of the shrine in the late 1870s was one block east of its current location.  When Simpson Street was extended sometime between 1894 and 1909, the shrine location was moved to the northwest corner of Simpson Street and Main Avenue.  In 1927 the City was deeded a lot one-half block north of the corner, and the shrine was moved to its current site.  The existing shrine structure was designed by City Architect Eleazer Herraras, and was constructed in 1940 by a crew of the National Youth Administration.  In 1971 it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and was one of the first listed properties in Arizona.

The adobe La Pilita Museum building was built in the late 1930s, and underwent several additions and reuses. Initially it was a residence, and later it was “La Pilita” restaurant.  After being vacant for a period, the City acquired it and allowed it to be used by the neighborhood and the Amity youth group. In the 1980s an iconic mural was painted on the south wall by the now-renowned Chicano artist Martin Moreno with the assistance of neighborhood youth. After another period of vacancy the non-profit La Pilita Association leased it and created the current museum through fundraising.

During the restoration of El Tiradito in 2010, the front altar space was re-covered with the same type of white lime stucco visible in a 1940s photograph. After the repairs of La Pilita building were completed, the mural on the south wall was repainted by the original artist.

In 2011 the City repair and restoration work on these two properties received a Governor’s Heritage Preservation Award.

El Tiradito, National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form
 

El Tiradito, Historic American Landscapes Survey Form
 

Marist College, 64 W. Ochoa Street

The Diocese of Tucson constructed the Marist College building in 1916, and still owns the building today.  At 52 feet high, it is the tallest structure in Arizona built of unfired adobe brick. It measures approximately 12,000 square feet over three floors.  Representing a unique blend of Italianate and Spanish Colonial styles and Mexican adobe construction techniques, the building was commissioned by Tucson’s third Bishop, Henri Granjon, and constructed by prominent local builder Manuel Flores. Marist College initially served as a parochial school for boys, and then was opened to both sexes and all races in 1924.  This was Tucson’s first unsegregated school, which remained open until 1968.  It then served as the offices of the Diocese until 2002.

Since 2002, the building has been unoccupied and has rapidly deteriorated. Following the collapse of three corners of the building during a heavy storm in 2005, emergency bracing was funded by an Arizona Heritage Fund grant obtained by the City of Tucson, matched by the Diocese. In 2006, the Ward 1 Council Office funded a structural analysis to determine the scope and cost of long-term stabilization and rehabilitation. In 2009, the City Historic Preservation Office provided funding for emergency roof repairs and replacement of protective tarps, in exchange for a façade preservation easement conveyed to the City. In 2010, the City Historic Preservation Office obtained grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission, and a match from the Diocese, to conduct additional emergency repairs and a new structural evaluation. In 2011, the City used federal funding to conduct a Phase 1 Environmental Assessment to identify hazardous materials in the building.

Marist College Historic District, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form
 

Matus-Meza House, 856 W. Calle Santa Ana

In 2012 the City of Tucson used federal Community Development Block Grant funding to rehabilitate a historic house and build a new restroom, outdoor kitchen, and shaded patio to become a museum and cultural center for the Old Pascua Neighborhood. The original adobe house was built in the 1920s and was added onto in several phases through the 1950s. It is one of the few surviving original houses built when this neighborhood was established in the early 1920s. The land was donated for the resettlement of Yaqui (Yoeme) Indians who fled to southern Arizona from their homeland in southern Sonora, Mexico to escape persecution by the Mexican government. The building is individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Old Pascua Museum and Culture Center is owned by the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and is operated by the nonprofit San Ignacio Yaqui Council.

In 2013 the City rehabilitation project received a historic preservation award from the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission and a Governor’s Heritage Preservation Award.

Matus-Meza House, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form

 

Oury Community Center

In 2013, the City of Tucson used federal Community Development Block Grant funding to make repairs to the Oury Community Center. The project included removing incompatible utilities, replastering cracked walls, restoring portions of a mural on the east façade, and making the building wheelchair and handicap accessible.

In 2011, the Oury Community Center was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing property to the Barrio Anita Historic District. Constructed of adobe sometime between 1900 and 1919, the building was originally part of the City of Tucson Farm. In 1930, it served as an auditorium for the Tucson Auto Camp and by the mid-1930s it was converted to a neighborhood community center.

 

Rodeo Parade Museum

In 2013, the City of Tucson used federal Community Development Block Grant funding to make repairs to the Rodeo Parade Museum.  The project included making adobe bricks on site for the rebuilding of a collapsed portion of the northeast corner of the museum, as well as replastering cracks along all faces of the building, and improving drainage to prevent water from damaging the newly repaired museum walls.

The museum complex includes an adobe barn and the hanger of Tucson’s first airport—the first municipally owned airport in the country—and provides visitors the opportunity to learn more about Tucson’s cowboy history and culture.

 

Steinfeld Warehouse, 101 W. Sixth Street

In 2012 the City of Tucson stabilized and restored the exterior of this 1907 building with federal Community Development Block Grant funding. The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a contributor to the Tucson Historic Warehouse District. It is the oldest surviving warehouse in Tucson, and the wall sign on the north façade (“Steinfeld & Co., Warehouse”) is the oldest surviving sign in the City. The building was designed by renowned architects David and Jessie Holmes for the prominent businessman Albert Steinfeld. It is an early example of Victorian Commercial architecture in Tucson, with corbelled brick details, segmented arches above door and window openings, and a 1920s-era storefront addition with two-tone, wire-cut faced brick and cast stone. The Warehouse Arts Management Organization/Steinfeld Warehouse Community Arts Center, LLC has a purchase agreement with the City and is currently rehabilitating the interior for new uses.

In 2012 the City stabilization project received a historic preservation award from the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission.

US Magnetic Observatory, Udall Park

In 2012 the City of Tucson used federal Community Development Block Grant funding to stabilize and restore the exteriors of three historic adobe buildings and a wood shed which were facilities of the former U.S. Coast Guard and Geodetic Survey Magnetic Observatory, in operation between 1909 and 1995. Now owned by the City and located in Udall Park, these buildings were constructed between 1925 and 1933 for this scientific station that measured fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field. The wooden shed was constructed with copper and aluminum nails to avoid any magnetic effect on the sensitive instruments inside. These buildings and their site are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Although they are currently mothballed, the recently adopted Master Plan for Udall Park calls for their adaptive reuse as park facilities that will include museum exhibits on the Magnetic Observatory and nearby archaeological sites.

In 2012 the City stabilization project received a historic preservation award from the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission.