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Arts Colony and Tourism Destination Buildings


The development of the resort and the tourism industry in and around the Valley (metro Phoenix) had an important influence on Scottsdale's culture and economic development. Grand resorts like the Biltmore debuted in 1929, establishing the Valley as a premier destination for the nation's wealthy and elite during the Depression years.

Despite the Depression, the climate and upscale appointments available at these resorts continued to lure the wealthy visitor. As part of their stay in the Valley, visitors would often include an excursion into Scottsdale to enjoy the charm of a small western town. These visitors supported shops and businesses within the downtown. The Depression also saw an influx of artists and architects to Scottsdale and nearby communities. Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the greatest architects of the modern period, purchased land in Scottsdale in 1937. His presence helped solidify Scottsdale's national reputation as an arts colony.

Shortly after World War II, Scottsdale leaders worked to promote a special identity for the town. The Chamber of Commerce officially adopted a design theme for the downtown, seeking to promote local businesses and capitalize on the "western" image and lifestyle that continued to draw tourists to the Valley. The Chamber proclaimed Scottsdale as the "West's Most Western Town" in 1947 to implement this vision. Scottsdale was the only local community to formally embrace the western atmosphere to distinguish it from other tourist destinations points. Downtown businesses in Scottsdale were encouraged to use Western-style architecture for their building design and construction. Malcolm White, Scottsdale's first mayor following incorporation in 1951, was the first downtown businessman to "dress his business and himself for the winter trade." Other businesses soon joined in the efforts to convey an Old West image and the downtown took on the appearance of a Hollywood frontier movie set.

The larger community also experienced steady growth during the postwar period. The downtown business district expanded in all directions to include businesses that catered to the growing tourist market. Gift shops, specialty stores, craft studios, art galleries and restaurants attracted guests from area resorts who had time for shopping and money to spend. By the late 1950s Scottsdale was a major tourist destination. A wide array of accommodations were built to lure the vacationing tourist and house the seasonal resident. By the 1960s, the increasingly sophisticated nature of the Scottsdale's growth brought it to question the appropriateness of Western themed architecture. Newer buildings were Increasingly constructed using Modern and Southwestern designs. This transitional pattern was also reflected in the reuse of existing buildings. more info (pdf/113 kb/15 pp)

Arts and Tourism buildings on the register include two restaurants, two art/retail complexes, one retail store, one residence, one resort hotel and one apartment. Two properties are outside the downtown area - Titus House and Cattle Track Complex. Taliesin West is also located in Scottsdale and is related to the Arts and Tourism context.  Taliesin West was the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a Landmark.


Arts Colony and Tourism Destination Buildings:

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Adobe Apartments 
7037-7041 East 1st Avenue
Date of construction: 1953
Date placed on Register: July 1, 2002 by Ordinance No. 3455, 9-ZN-2002 
The Adobe Apartments are significant for their association with Scottsdale's development as a major postwar tourist destination and for their vernacular architecture. The architectural style of these five adobe buildings was typical of the early postwar development and continued the practice of western styled building that distinguished the nearby downtown buildings. It is also important for its association with Dr. Paul Schneider, who made many important contributions to downtown Scottsdale development in the postwar period. The Adobe Apartments are the only buildings still standing that provide testimony to this work.

Cattle Track Complex
6105-6207 North Cattle Track
Dates of construction: Multiple.  George L. Ellis House at 105 N. Cattle Track-1937, expansion in 1940's, plus four workshop-studios, including 1930's barn converted into Phil Curtis studio-residence in 1940's, three residential-studios and one pump house of varying vintage.  Kueffner residence at 6207 N. Cattle Track-1938, plus two workshop-studios.
Date placed on Register: May 1, 2001 by Resolution No. 5776
The Cattle Track complex is historically significant for its association with Scottsdale's agricultural past and, even most importantly, to themes associated with art and architecture. The complex has been evolving since 1937 when George Ellis began his residential architecture and construction career in Scottsdale by building a small redwood cottage at 105 N. Cattle Track from boards reclaimed from an abandoned water pipeline. The architecture, aesthetic quality, and utilitarian nature of Ellis' buildings embody distinctive characteristics of a type, period and method of construction notable to the development of Scottsdale's built environment. The complex is also an integral part of Scottsdale's evolution as an arts colony and is the site where many artists came to live and work, including painter Philip Curtis. The complex is located about two miles from the downtown and is north of McDonald Drive on the west side of the Arizona Canal.

Craftsman Court
7121-7141 East 5th Avenue
Dates of construction: Construction of seven buildings began in 1955
Date placed on Register: July 1, 2002 by Ordinance No. 3454, 8-ZN-2002 
Craftsman Court is significant for its association with Scottsdale's development as an arts colony and tourist destination and its association with a number of prominent artists like Lloyd Kiva New, who was a champion of the emerging Indian crafts movement in postwar Scottsdale and nationwide. The Modern architecture of the complex, with the initial buildings designed by T. S. Montgomery, is also illustrative of the historic development of the community during this important period of Scottsdale's history. The design blends with the desert landscape and uses a dignified western design motif adopted by downtown businesses in the fifties. The contemporary architecture reflected the growing stature of Scottsdale's craftsmen, as they became well known fine art artisans.

Hotel Valley Ho
  (pdf/83 kb/2 pp)   
6850 East Main Street
Dates of construction: 1956  Initial Valley Ho and 1958 additional buildings
Date placed on Register: July 1, 2002 by Ordinance No. 3453, 7-ZN-2002 

The Hotel Valley Ho is historically significant for its association with Scottsdale's development as a top rated arts colony and destination for tourists and for its modern, organic architectural style. It was the first year round resort to open up in the town, on the west side of the downtown, and the first to employ "southwestern" architecture, bridging modern and western detailing, and expressing the cosmopolitan nature of Scottsdale. It is the only remaining historically significant intact Post World War II resort in Scottsdale and most likely Arizona. This is also the site where many celebrities and noteworthy guests stayed when vacationing in Scottsdale over the years.   

Kerr Cultural Center 
 (pdf /1 mb/ 4 pp)

Kerr Photo

6110 N. Scottsdale Road
Dates of Construction: Louise Lincoln Kerr Residence 1948; Studio 1959 with 1969 and later additions/alterations to the north and west

Date placed on Register: June 17, 2008 by Resolution 7615 to accept Conservation Easement   

The Kerr Cultural Center includes both the original Scottsdale residence of Louise Lincoln Kerr and the studio building she constructed for performances. The property is owned by Arizona State University (ASU) and they schedule the studio as a performance venue. The two adobe buildings at the Louise Lincoln Kerr Cultural Center are significant for; A) their association with the development of the City of Scottsdale as an arts colony and tourist destination, B) their association with the life and work of Louise Lincoln Kerr, an important and influential musician, composer, and patron of the arts, and C) as an example of an important architectural style and for the construction methods used. The carved wooden doors and ornamental ironwork are of particular interest and the studio is highly regarded by musicians for its acoustics.

Pink Pony
 (pdf/24 kb/5 pp)
3831 North Scottsdale Road
Date of construction: 1954 (Sprouse-Reitz Drugstore)
Date of historic alteration: 1970
Date placed on Register: May 4, 2004 by Ordinance No. 3562 

The Pink Pony building is historically significant for its association with Scottsdale's Post World War II development patterns. It is representative of a period when the town became a major baseball spring training and tourist destination. It is also important for its association with Charlie Briley, considered "Arizona Sports Royalty" for his role in bringing the Cactus League to Scottsdale and establishing a nationally known draw for the baseball crowd. It helps to illustrate the evolutionary pattern of downtown retail development during this vital era, with a core group of "movers and shakers" who guided the process and ensured the success of the downtown. The architecture of the Pink Pony is also significant for its ability to illustrate the transition of the downtown design theme from Old West, used in the Sprouse-Reitz design, to a Modern Southwestern Style in the Pink Pony storefront.

Roald Amundsen Pullman Car 

7301 E. Indian Bend Road
.07 acres within City of Scottsdale’s McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Date of Construction: Built in 1928 by George Pullman, moved to city-owned park in 1974
Date Placed on Register: July 1, 2009 by Ordinance No. 3861

The Roald Amundsen Pullman Car is historically significant for its association with PullmanCarPhotopolitics/government and transportation. The private car was used by U.S. presidents for both presidential campaigns and for matters of state while in office so the Amundsen is specifically related to American Presidents and is nationally significant in the area of politics/government. It is important in terms of transportation, as the Amundsen illustrates generally the predominance of railroads as an important mode of travel in America in the 1800s and 1900s. Specifically it represents the specialized accommodations which were developed for wealthy and prominent patrons.


The Roald Amundsen Pullman Car is also significant for its association with transportation technology. It is the last intact example of the six cars in the 1928 Explorer private car series illustrating the design and construction techniques used by George Pullman and his company for private luxury cars in 1928. The Explorer series of cars were each designed to accommodate all the needs for the traveling elite and they represent the height of railroad technology for their time.

Saba's Department Store
7254 East Main Street
Date of construction: 1921 (Sterling Drug Store) 
Date of historic alteration:  1948
Date placed on Register:  May 1, 2001 by Resolution No. 5776  

Saba's Department Store is considered historically significant for its excellent representation of the efforts made to create a distinctive Western image for downtown Scottsdale in the decade following World War II. Typical of the construction that occurred in the postwar period, the building was altered in 1948 to reflect the popular forms and design of commercial retail establishments nation-wide, as well as the locally adopted western design theme. Although some modifications have been made to its form and materials, these changes are consistent with those that were historically used. Saba's helps to convey the pattern of retail development that characterized Scottsdale's downtown development during the mid- twentieth century.  

Sugar Bowl
 (pdf/39 kb/4 pp)
3935 and 4005 North Scottsdale Road
Date of Construction: 1950 (Western Motor Service)
Date of historic alteration: 1958
Date placed on Register: May 4, 2004 by Ordinance No. 3563  

The Sugar Bowl building is both historically and architecturally significant. It is important for its association with Scottsdale's Post World War II community development patterns. It is representative of a period when the town became a major tourist destination and helps to illustrate the evolutionary pattern of downtown retail development during this vital era. Jack Huntress converted the Western Auto Service to the Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Parlor in 1958 because he saw the need for a family oriented restaurant in the downtown. The architecture of the building is significant for its ability to convey the principals of mid-twentieth century storefront design in addition to the Western Style deliberately adopted by downtown businesses as part of their postwar marketing efforts. Porch walkways, false front parapet walls, and rustic signage express the Old West Style that prominent local businessmen consciously promoted in the postwar era of Scottsdale's downtown development.