Roosevelt Neighborhood

Phoenix City, Maricopa County, AZ

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The Roosevelt Neighborhood Multiple Resource Area was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.[1]


The Roosevelt Neighborhood Multiple Resource Area, located in central Phoenix, Arizona, is bounded by West McDowell Road and West Fillmore Street on the north and south, respectively, and by Central Avenue and Seventh Avenue on the east and west. The multiple resources area includes four historic districts and fourteen individually significant buildings outside historic districts. Phoenix, the state capitol and the primary population center, is located within the Salt River Valley in south-central Arizona. Ringed by low mountains, the city lies within the arid lower Sonoran Desert at an elevation of 1080 feet.

Winding through the Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA, one passes along palm tree-lined streets with rows of handsome one-, one-and-one-half-, and two-story residences. Dividing the residential neighborhood is the Moreland Corridor, a vacant strip of land cleared of structures for the planned Papago Freeway. Along Roosevelt Street, which bisects the neighborhood, stand massive, two-story apartment buildings and a historic neighborhood shopping center. Prominent nonresidential structures within the neighborhood include the two-story Kenilworth School, Phoenix LDS (Latter Day Saints) Second Ward Church, Trinity Cathedral, the two-story Knights of Pythias Building, and the sixteen-story Hotel Westward Ho. In addition to these historic nonresidential buildings, about 10 percent of the historic houses and apartment buildings within the neighborhood have been rehabilitated, or are in the process of being rehabilitated, for office use. Most of the buildings in the Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA were built between 1897 and 1938. During that period of forty-two years, numerous political figures, entrepreneurs, capitalists, and community leaders chose the neighborhood as their place of residence. The neighborhood's historic buildings, landscaping, and land use patterns faithfully represent this period of development in Phoenix.

The Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA is laid out in a grid pattern centering on Roosevelt Street. South of Roosevelt Street, the frontage of the lots is oriented in an east-west pattern. North of Roosevelt Street, the lots face north and south. This change in orientation to the sun roughly parallels the rise in popularity of the Bungalow, with its prominent front porch and screened rear porch encouraging residents to lounge outdoors and enjoy the rural ambiance of their neighborhoods. This rural ambiance was created in the Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA through site planning and landscaping. Residences are typically sited twenty feet from the front property line, and an illusion of an even deeper setback is created by tree lawns, which consist of the landscaped right-of-way between the street and the sidewalk. With these handkerchief-sized lawns and generally adequate sideyards, each residence is set in its own frame of grass and trees, an important design element both to the Picturesque Movement and the Progressives' Fresh Air Movement in architecture. Although the ash trees that once shaded the streets of Bennett Place are gone, the rows of California fan palms that graced the neighborhood remain.

The Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA was developed during the period from 1893 until 1938. The neighborhood comprises nine residential additions to the original Phoenix townsite: Simms Addition (1893),[1] Bennett Place (1894), Plank's Addition (1901), Bennett and Plank's Addition (1910), Kenilworth Addition (1910), McDowell Place (1910), Chester Place (1911), Chelsea Place (1912), and Blount Addition (1919). The architectural styles present in the neighborhood reflect both national and regional trends during this period.

For purposes of discussion, the architectural development of the Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA may be divided into three building phases: early development (1893-1910), middle development (1911-1925), and late development (1926-1938). Few of the buildings erected during the early period have survived. Most notable among those that are extant are the O. C. Thompson House, the Ezra W. Thayer House, the Herman P. DeMund House, and the Harry E. Peirce House). Moreover, along Second Avenue stand a row of vernacular Neoclassical cottages erected between 1904 and 1907. In general, these houses are localized, simplified versions of Queen Anne and Neoclassical houses. Those with Queen Anne bases are asymmetrical in massing and generally two-story in elevation. Roofs consist of a combination of hipped and gabled elements. Bay windows, dormers, wrap-around porches, and fish-scale shingles are major design elements. The vernacular Neoclassical cottages are also asymmetrical in massing but one-story in elevation. Hipped roofs with slightly upturned eaves cover the buildings. Tuscan columns and hipped dormers are the major design elements. Toward the end of the first phase, a transition toward more regional styles of architecture, including the Mission Revival and California Bungalow styles, occurred. Notable examples include the Stoddard/Harmon House and the Seargeant/Oldaker House.

During the middle phase of development, the Bungalow was the predominant style. Sprinkled among the Bungalows are houses and apartment buildings in the Mission Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, English Cottage Revival, Southwestern vernacular, and Prairie styles. Additionally, there are examples of Dutch Colonial Revival, Italian Villa Revival, and Neoclassical Revival houses built during this period. Houses built during the middle phase are notable for the great variety of forms. Most are one- or one-and-one-half-story in elevation and rectangular in plan, but a mix of symmetrical and asymmetrical massing is present. The striking silhouette of the streetscapes is created by the juxtaposition of gabled rooflines, occasionally interspersed with hipped and flat roofs. Full-length porches, classically derived columns, dormers, jig-saw cut carpentry details, and leaded glass provide additional design diversity. Examples of the architecture erected during this period include the James Aldrich House, the Frank M. Mosshammer House, the Paul M. Bennett House, and the Helen Anderson House.

Houses erected during the late phase of development are distinguished from their immediate predecessors by their greater simplicity and economy of detail. Notable exceptions include a number of Period Revival houses. Most of these buildings are one-story in elevation and asymmetrical in massing, with gabled roofs. Stylistically, Bungalows continue in popularity, but Spanish Colonial Revival, Period Revival, Southwestern vernacular, and Prairie houses are well represented.

By the time the Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA was developed, the use of brick, wood, stone, prefabricated components, and pressed and cast metal was commonplace in building construction in Phoenix. The completion of the transcontinental railroad in Arizona in 1883 and 1884 had made the use of imported materials common and relatively inexpensive, and local brick had been available since 1878. The prolific use of wood shingles, milled woodwork, and leaded and stained glass throughout the Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA testifies to the ready availability of these materials. The majority of the buildings in the neighborhood are built of local, soft brick, although almost 70 percent have a stucco finish. Other materials used for structural systems in the Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA include concrete block and reinforced concrete.

The quality of workmanship and materials varies widely in the Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA. A number of houses, notably the Craftsman Bungalows, exhibit superior craftsmanship, including carefully laid and raked brickwork, decorative carpentry details, leaded and bevelled glass, and elaborate interior woodwork. Examples of this craftsmanship are found in the Stewart/Diamond House, the Werter D. Shackelford House, the Marcellin L. Vieux House, the Cashion/Norton House, the Saufley/ Wilkinson House, the H. E. Shaw House, and the Ellis/Shackelford House.

The Roosevelt Neighborhood Historic Buldings Survey completed in 1982 identified four historic districts (containing 275 properties and a small city park) and fourteen individually significant properties. A total of 19 intrusions were included within the historic districts. Because these intrusions were dispersed and, in general, were compatible in terms of scale and materials, their visual impact was evaluated as minimal.

Inclusive Street Numbers of Historic Districts

Roosevelt Historic District:

Portland Street Historic District:

Chelsea Place Historic District:

Kenilworth Historic District:


The Roosevelt Neighborhood Multiple Resources Area is significant as a microcosm of the development patterns that shaped Phoenix in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is also significant for its locally outstanding examples of early twentieth century American architectural styles popular in Phoenix between 1897 and 1938, and for its association with many prominent political figures, community leaders, capitalists, and entrepreneurs who helped shape Phoenix during its infancy. The period of significance spans more than 45 years, from 1893 until 1938.

Residential Development Patterns

The residential additions that constitute the Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA were among the first to begin Phoenix's northward pattern of development, which continues today. In the earliest phase of the city's development (1871-1891), growth occurred in a radial pattern adjacent to the southern and eastern boundaries of the original townsite (which now is bounded by Van Buren and the railroad tracks on the north and south, respectively, and by Seventh Street and Seventh Avenue on the east and west, located to the south of the present Roosevelt Neighborhood). In February 1891, the Salt River overflowed its banks, covering the lower valley bottom lands and forcing the evacuation of affluent families to higher ground. Consequently, prominent residents left the southern area of the city and moved to higher ground. Residential development migrated westward along Washington Street, northward along the Grand Avenue diagonal, and northward along Central Avenue. The Simms Addition, platted in 1893, and Bennett Place, platted in 1894, were among the first neighborhoods to be developed for affluent residents north of the incorporated city. This pattern was further established by the platting of the Kenilworth Addition in 1910 and Chelsea Place in 1912, north of the Simms Addition and Bennett Place.

The northward development pattern was influenced and facilitated by the proximity of Central Avenue -- the city's primary north-south thoroughfare -- and the extension of the Phoenix Railway line along West Fillmore Street and north along Fifth Avenue through Bennett Place, Plank's Addition, Chester Place, and Kenilworth Addition, creating "streetcar suburbs." Prior to the development of streetcars, Phoenix residents generally lived within walking distance of their places of employment. By 1920, the importance of the streetcar gave way to the automobile. The influence of the automobile can be seen in the architecture constructed during the 1920s, with porte-cocheres designed as an integral part of houses.

A milestone in the process of residential development is represented in the Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA. Both Chelsea Place and the Kenilworth Addition were "developers' subdivisions," the former developed by Home Builders and the latter by Southwestern Building & Investment Company (and, later, Home Builders), two major builders in Phoenix at the turn of the century. These developers offered custom-designed houses.

Portland and Moreland[2] Streets were laid out in 1893 along boulevard planning concepts, with landscaped center islands (labeled "parks" on the plot maps), providing an aura of spaciousness important to the visual elegance of elite suburban development. Houses in the Simms Addition were larger and more elegant than those in adjacent areas, as evidence by the Ezra W. Thayer House. The use of the boulevard planning concept in the Simms Addition was a very early application of the philosophy of the City Beautiful Movement, which emerged at the Columbian Exposition of 1893.

By 1930, Phoenix had become a significant regional center as a result of considerable suburban expansion. It was the largest city in the Southwest between El Paso and Los Angeles. The development of the Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA played a significant role in the rise of Phoenix from a rough frontier town to an urban city.

Architectural Significance

Architecturally, the Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA has some of the finest streetscapes of early twentieth century residential, religious, and school architecture in the City of Phoenix. Among the relatively plain California Bungalows, which dominate the landscape, are finely detailed Craftsman Bungalows and Period Revival houses (including Mission Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Italian Villa Revival, French Provincial Revival, and English Cottage Revival). Many of these are the most notable examples of their styles in Phoenix. Furthermore, the neighborhood includes important assemblages of vernacular Neoclassical Revival cottages and Prairie School buildings. Outstanding examples of religious and educational architecture include the Phoenix LDS Second Ward Church, designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, Trinity Cathedral, designed in the Mission Revival style, and Kenilworth School, a locally significant example of Neoclassical Revival design. The majority of the significant architectural examples in the Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA are included within the boundaries of the four historic districts and are discussed within the context of the significance of those districts. Additionally, several outstanding examples of vernacular Victorian era, Mission Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Craftsman Bungalow, and English Cottage Revival buildings lie outside these boundaries and enhance the significance of the multiple resource area.

Between 1880 and 1910, wealthy residents of Phoenix built numerous two-story brick houses in the late Victorian form, including the Queen Anne and Eastlake styles. Fewer than a dozen of these Victorian era buildings remain in Phoenix today, four of which are in the Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA. Many of those that remain are best described as eclectic components on a Queen Anne base. Examples of this idiom are the Herman P. DeMund House, which combines elements from the Mission Revival, Tudor Revival, and Beaux-Arts Classicism styles with Victorian-era massing, and the Harry E. Peirce House, which exhibits a mixture of Colonial Revival and Queen Anne details.

In contrast to late Victorian architecture, which was transplanted from Europe and the Eastern United States, the popularity of the Mission Revival style between 1910 and the present grew out of an enchantment with the "indigenous" Spanish architecture of the Southwest. Two particularly noteworthy examples of Mission Revival residential architecture are the Stoddard Harmon House and the Charles H. Dunlap House. These former residences (now converted to office use) are among the most notable and stylistically intact examples of the use of this style in residential architecture remaining in Phoenix.

Another popular style that grew out of an appreciation for the architecture of the Spanish Southwest was the Spanish Colonial Revival style, first introduced in 1915 at the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego. The Hotel Westward Ho (listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982) is an outstanding example of the successful application of the style on a skyscraper. Employed primarily on buildings with relatively low profiles, the Spanish Colonial Revival style is successfully used on the 16-story Hotel Westward Ho because its ziggurat massing establishes a formal yet complex shape suitable for such ornamentation. It was designed by the firm of Fisher, Lake, and Travor of Los Angeles and by Louis Dorr.

A noteworthy example of the use of the Spanish Colonial Revival style in religious architecture is the Phoenix LDS Second Ward Church. The building is the earliest remaining local example of a religious building designed by the prominent Mormon architect, Harold W. Burton. Harold W. Burton and his partner, Hyrum C. Pope, were among the most influential of Mormon architects during the 20th century. They are credited with adapting modern styles to the needs of the LDS church as early as the second decade of the century, developing innovative floor plans which allowed flexibility in building use without loss of function, and creating standardized designs prior to the establishment of the Church Building Committee in 1954. The Phoenix Second Ward Church is characteristic of the work by Pope and Burton. On the interior, the building was most distinguished by the juxtaposition of the recreation hall perpendicular to the chapel so that people seated in both spaces could see and hear a speaker equally well. This feature, which was first perfected in the Second Ward Church, was to become common in many later LDS churches.

Simultaneous with the popularity of the Spanish colonial Revival style was the prevalence of the Craftsman Bungalow. Two particularly noteworthy local examples of this style are the Seargeant/Oldaker House and the Ellis/Shackelford House. The Craftsman style was popularized by cabinet maker Gustav Stickley in the first two decades of the twentieth century. This style, an offshoot of the Arts and Crafts Movement, was characterized by a naturalistic use of materials.

An outgrowth of the Picturesque Movement was the popularity of various Period Cottage Revival styles, one of which was the English Cottage Revival. An outstanding example of English Cottage Revival architecture in Phoenix is the Helen Anderson House. This house is the epitome of the English Cottage Revival style, whose most characteristic feature is its simulated thatch roof, achieved by green, woven shingles and rolled eaves.

In addition to the stylistic significance of its architecture, the Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA is notable for its examples of the use of concrete block and reinforced, cast-in-place concrete in the structural systems of residences. In the early years of the Roosevelt Neighborhood's development, residents desired homes reminiscent of those being built "back East" from whence they came. One consequence was the erection of houses made of concrete block precast in various designs to simulate stone. This material was available by 1906 from the Phoenix Artificial Stone and Cement Company. Relatively few houses constructed of this material remain in Phoenix. By the 1920s, Phoenicians began to appreciate the architecture of the Spanish Southwest. The Greystone Apartments, constructed of concrete block cast to simulate adobe, represent a shift from the desire to re-create Eastern and Midwestern houses to an appreciation of Arizona's "indigenous" building technology. Moreover, this "simulated adobe" was the forerunner of slump block, now widely used in residential architecture in the Southwest.

Reinforced, cast-in-place concrete for use in a structural system was not introduced in the Salt River Valley until after the turn of the century. A rare and early example of the use of this material is the Charles H. Dunlap House. This ca. 1914 example is particularly rare because it was constructed as a residence. Early examples of the use of reinforced concrete in commercial buildings are the Korrick's Building (1912) in Phoenix and the San Marcos Hotel (1912) in Chandler.

Association with Significant Historic Persons

In addition to its importance in the developmental and architectural history of Phoenix, the Roosevelt Neighborhood was home to much of the city's elite during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These leaders include Charles H. Dunlap, Phoenix City commissioner and entrepreneur who founded the People's Ice and Fuel Company and the Phoenix Wood and Coal Company; Herman P. DeMund, a prominent capitalist who established the DeMund Brothers lumber company, reportedly the most extensive lumber business in the Southwest at the time; Elizabeth Seargeant Oldaker, who founded the Arizona Museum and organized the First Families of Arizona; and W. C. Ellis, one of the founders of Arizona Deaconess Hospital (later renamed Good Samaritan Hospital), where he served as chief of the medical staff.

Other prominent residents lived within the four designated historic districts. These districts are the Roosevelt Historic District, the Portland Street Historic District, the Kenilworth Historic District, and the Chelsea Place Historic District.

Among the prominent figures who lived in the Roosevelt Historic District were Walter Talbot, Robert A Craig, Ezra W. Thayer, and Louis L. Steward. Austin Winfield Morrill, Franklin T. Alkire, F. A. Reid, John R. Norton, James Angus Cashion, J. A. R. Irvine, and Frank H. Lyman were prominent leaders who resided in the Portland Street Historic District. Especially significant figures living in the Kenilworth Historic District were Clinton Campbell, J. Robert Fleming, and Charles Stauffer. Chelsea Place was home to David F. Johnson, Barnett Ellis Marks, Lloyd B. Christy, and George Elbert Burr. The significance of these men is discussed in detail in the discourse on the respective districts.

In addition to these community leaders, a number of significant persons whose houses no longer remain resided in the Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA. An examination of the significance of these men provides insight into the importance of the Roosevelt Neighborhood MRA as a residential area for Phoenix's leaders. Charles H. Akers was Secretary of the Territory of Arizona; C. M. Frazier was a prominent attorney who later became Attorney General; R. Allyn Lewis served as a Councilman and Mayor; Charles H. Pratt was president of Pratt-Gilbert Company, the largest agricultural implement and hardware supply company in the Southwest; and Richard E. Sloan served as Governor of Arizona Territory from 1909 until 1912. Other prominent residents included Alexander C. Baker, attorney and former Chief Justice of the Territorial Supreme Court; Carl Hayden, Arizona's first U.S. Congressman, who still holds the country's record for years of service in the U. S. Congress; John D. Loper, Superintendent of City Schools; and Baron M. Goldwater, prominent merchant and father of the future Senator Barry Goldwater.

Many of these and other leaders in Phoenix were members of various fraternal and sororital organizations that met in the Knights of Pythias Building. Fraternal and sororital organizations played an extremely important social role in Phoenix and other Western settlements. In addition to functioning oftentimes as benevolent societies, providing pensions for widows of members, they provided formal, structured social gatherings. The lodge meetings were also important settings for business and political transactions. Furthermore, they provided a desired link with Eastern mores. Groups that met in the hall, in addition to the Knights of Pythias, included the Pythian Sisters, the Brotherhood of American Yeomen, the Loyal Order of Moose, the Nomads of Avrudaka, and the Ancient Egyptian Order of Sciots. Later the Knights of Columbus and the Masons met in the building.


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End Notes

  1. Dates in parenthesis indicate the years in which the additions were platted.
  2. Moreland Street has been cleared of structures for the planned Papago Freeway. Portland Street is included in the Roosevelt Historic District.

[] Weisiger, Marsha and Ryden, Don, gerald A. Doyle & Assoc., Roosevelt Neighborhood Multiple Resource Area, Pheonix Arizona, nomination document, 1983, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

and His Works. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. 1979.

Wagers, Grace. Oral Interview, 1982.

Watson, T. W. and Jessie H. (Grantees), Warantee Deed with Home Builders, September 29, 1921.

Whiffen, Marcus. American Architecture Since 1780: A Guide to Styles. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1981.

Wilkinson, Catherine. Oral Interview, 1982.

Willson, Roscoe G. Pioneer Cattlemen of Arizona. Phoenix: McGrew Commercial Printing, 1956.

Winter, Robert. The California Bungalow. Los Angeles: Hennessy & Ingalls, Inc. 1980.

Woodward, Jim. Personal Communication, 1982.

Wyllys, Rufus Kay. Men & Women of Arizona Past and Present. Phoenix: Pioneer Publishing Company, 1940.

End Notes

  1. Dates in parenthesis indicate the years in which the additions were platted.
  2. Moreland Street has been cleared of structures for the planned Papago Freeway. Portland Street is included in the Roosevelt Historic District.

[] Weisiger, Marsha and Ryden, Don, gerald A. Doyle & Assoc., Roosevelt Neighborhood Multiple Resource Area, Pheonix Arizona, nomination document, 1983, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
7th Avenue North • Central Avenue North • Fillmore Street West • McDowell Road West

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