A historic home in Arizona? Almost sounds like an anomaly. Surely there is nothing old enough to be historic in a state founded in 1912…
That is the popular perception among many people, but it is fundamentally incorrect.
The problem stems from the perception of what historic really means. Preservationists accept the definition adopted at the federal level in the criteria for listing on the National Register of Historic Places – which is 50 years. Sounds like a long time ago, but it’s really not.
In 2021, the 50-year rule puts the age threshold date for historic home status at 1971 (Yikes).
Integrity is a critical factor in determining what is considered historic.
The reality is that there are thousands of historic houses in Arizona now coming of age. At the point where they could and should be evaluated for historic or architectural merit, or in the larger context, “representative of the broad patterns of history” in the area. Or, perhaps something that we recognize as distinctive because “they don’t build them like that anymore.”
In truth, the standard 3-bed/1-bath houses built by the thousands by builders such as Hallcraft Homes, Allied Homes, or John F. Long are now relics of an age gone by.
Yes, the “suburban ranch house”, or at least those within a subdivision from that era, may in fact be historic as part of a historic district “that represents a time and place, and/or distinctive architectural style, and that is still reasonably intact. Integrity – the concept of “would the guy who built it recognize it.”
Preserve Architecture and Design Unique to Phoenix
The current remodeling craze, the era or “fix and flip” and the expansion to maximize the footprint to the extent allowed by zoning – have caused an erosion of architectural character. We are left with fairly small numbers of houses that survive that may end up in designated historic districts from any era over the 50-year threshold.
Those neighborhoods are increasingly scarce. That scarcity has value and character. Depending on the period, that style may have real discernible significance.
Recognizing Your Home’s Historic Significance
The first step is recognizing the scale and scope of what is historic, and then asking, is this house old enough that I should be asking that question? Is the neighborhood over 50 years old? Is there an unusual house that may have some inherent significance from before the age of huge subdivisions?
There are lots of houses from the 50s interspersed among more recent neighborhoods. What is the story behind the house? More than likely, there is a reason – it predates the area, it was designed by an architect, or has unique design and form
Architects like Ralph Haver and Al Beadle were building houses in the 1950s that broke the mold. Haver used shallow-pitched gables, Beadle was known for rectilinear shapes and flat roofs. Think of the Town and Country neighborhood designed by Ralph Haver in the 50s (74th Street and Oak) or the very modern Paradise Gardens by Al Beadle from the late 60s (34th Street and Mountain View).
There are 36 historic districts in Phoenix.
More conventionally, there are 36 historic districts in Phoenix, about half of which date from the 1920s and are home to the Craftsman Bungalows (Roosevelt) or the Period Cottages (F.Q. Story) from the late 1920s. There’s also a blend of both 20s and 30s that makes up the Coronado Neighborhood, followed by Country Club Park, the early appearance of the “pre-war” ranch all built-in 1939 and designed according to the standards of the Federal Housing Administration. Houses that reflect the housing policies of the federal government – could that be historic, and does that have value? Yes.
Realtors who understand this can better service their buyers.
The overall conclusion – figure out what is notable about each house you have listed. Realize that the neighborhoods have value, authenticity has value, architectural character and design has value. The realtors who understand that can better service their buyers, and find the right “historic house” for an ever more discriminating set of buyers seeking historic homes in historic neighborhoods.
Tru Historical – a Division of Tru Realty
Roger Brevoort never expected to leave New England, but he was enticed by a job opportunity at the Arizona Historic Preservation Office in Phoenix. It was only logical that Roger would integrate his interest in architectural history into the real estate profession. Roger was immediately involved in identifying many of the original historic districts in Phoenix, establishing boundaries, researching architects and architectural styles.