Local Quote: Historic Preservation

This article ran last year and I’ve had it in my drafts folder for some unknown reason. It’s still timely, though, as the history of Scottsdale is always under threat from those who seek to capitalize upon it.

Historians build on ways to preserve city’s story

By Michael Clancy,  The Republic | azcentral.com

Scottsdale could tell its story in numerous ways — through its people, its leaders, its political history, or the story of its growth.

One way the city chooses to tell its own story is through its buildings.

In 1999, almost a half century after the city’s founding, Scottsdale created a historic register to recognize the historic buildings in its midst. The goal is to increase public awareness of Scottsdale’s heritage; identify historic and cultural resources; designate and recognize significant local resources; and assist in protecting, preserving and enhancing the buildings and structures that best represent Scottsdale’s past.

The first group was recognized in 2000 and 2001, when nine buildings were placed on the register. Among them were some of downtown’s oldest and most iconic structures. They include a century-old adobe building still in use as a blacksmith shop, the city’s first Catholic Church, the first post office, the first schools and a couple of other buildings that currently are retail outlets.

The city later began to recognize buildings that took Scottsdale’s slogan, “The West’s Most Western Town,” to different places, all the while keeping in touch with the city’s history. Those include the Hotel Valley Ho, the Craftsman Court retail area and the Cattle Track Complex, home to artists and craftsmen for more than 50 years.

Under the city’s General Plan, Scottsdale officially is “a community that builds on its cultural heritage, promotes historical and archaeological preservation areas, and identifies and promotes the arts and tourism in a way that recognizes the unique desert environment in which we live.”

The plan also calls on the city to acknowledge its past, said Steve Venker, historic preservation officer for the city.

“To fulfill the community values stated above, the Scottsdale Historic Preservation Program strives to increase public awareness of Scottsdale’s heritage; identify historic and cultural resources; designate and recognize significant local resources; and assist in protecting, preserving, and enhancing the buildings and structures that best represent Scottsdale’s past,” Venker says.

Besides the mere act of preservation, the program attracts visitors to see the city’s heritage.

The program works for property owners, too. They receive assistance in identifying a building’s preservation or rehabilitation needs, planning exterior improvements and future preservation needs, and making conversions into new uses.

Financial assistance is available for exterior maintenance and rehabilitation, for bringing buildings up to current building codes and to restore original designs and architectural features.

To date, 21 buildings and three developments have been recognized. Moving into the future, the commission will have its hands full.

“The Historic Preservation Commission and city staff continues to research and document the city’s history by actively seeking to add significant properties to the Scottsdale Historic Register,” Venker says. It does so by preparing a work program for the year. This year’s remains under development.

Among the locations being considered is Brusally Ranch. Only six acres of the original 160-acre ranch remain at 84th Street north of Cholla Street. Many Arabian horses can trace their lineage back to those bred at Brusally Ranch by Ed Tweed, the founder and first president of the state’s Arabian Horse Association.

Another is the Western-themed restaurants at Reata Pass, including the closed Reata Pass Steakhouse and the still-in-business Greasewood Flat. Plans for those sites are being developed now that Taylor Morrison Homes owns the property. The land is at Alma School Parkway and Pinnacle Vista Drive in north Scottsdale.

The city also is looking at World War II-era hangars at Scottsdale Airport, the Los Olivos Restaurant in downtown Scottsdale, and the Fifth Avenue gallery and shopping district downtown.

“The protection of historic buildings is important to a community in that it provides markers — reminders — of the story of how the community was built,” said Don Hadder, president of the Scottsdale Historical Society. “This story is important in that it reveals the investment, struggles, hopes and commitment those before us have had, the results of which we enjoy today. These reminders also help us to remember the lessons learned in the process of bringing a community together. Protecting historic buildings is part of telling the important stories of how we came to be here and helps us to value the contributions of those who came before us.”

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1 Comment

  1. TIME OUT!!!!!!!! Historic preservation is important and especially so for a city like ours with such a relatively short history as an incorporated town/city, but with a rich history of settlement by people of many cultures, ethnic origins, work ethics from preachers and military and farmers and ranchers to the pilot trainers and hydrologists.

    Today’s historic preservation efforts need to go one step further as our lazy city government allows developers to drive economic revitalization for all of Scottsdale.

    Policies need to be established to protect historic neighborhoods and buildings from the unintended consequences and negative impacts of high-rise multifamily and mixed use buildings that 99.9% of the infill development is and will be in southern Scottsdale. That means Council leadership has to get educated, think about all citizens and work for all residents. Like that’s going to happen.

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