I'm greatly impressed by all the feedback and historic vignettes about people and places in our neighborhood history. Two preserve all of this as a basis for future articles, I'm posting the essence of the emails responding to the request I made for feedback and historic tips. I am seeking collaborators and history leads to discover more of our history. If anyone is good at recording oral histories (I'm not), that would be especially useful.
This is my email regarding history research and asking for your help:
Using Newspapers.com, I've found material to publish several articles per week on the Historic Armory Park blog (historicarmorypark.net). Articles from our past provide context for things happening today. To date, I have moved forward from the earliest issues of the Arizona Daily Star searching for references to Armory Park. Most are not of current interest, rental ads and meetings for example. Some, however, seem relevant to the issues of our time. Future searches will be more issue focused. I could really use help identifying good subjects for these searches. Names of prominent past community residents would be particularly helpful.
Some have expressed interest in learning more about the history of their property. That is difficult to do with online searches so at some point, I will need to do physical record searches of property records. Since that is time consuming and a challenge in the Covid world, it will not happen very soon.
If you have historic information or areas of particular interest, please share with me.
If you haven’t already, please include Albert Elias in your searches. What an AP treasure! Thanks so much for taking on this project.
We should talk sometime about what type of research assistance you might need in terms of searching for the history of some of the homes in our neighborhood. I've been slowly working on researching my own little place and there is a great deal that can be learned just from searching maps and property assessment records online. Both the AZ Historical Society and the Special Collections department here at the university have unprocessed collections full of photographs and blue prints relating to our neighborhood as well. You may be able to reach out directly through email to either location and ask about specific properties particularly if they are more well known or if you know the builders name.
I am an archivist by trade ( I work at the Western Archeological and Conservation Center) but one of my personal dreams has been to create a large style coffee table book full of current and recent photos of homes in the neighborhood, with historical details and information as well as interviews with residents. It seems that you are basically doing the same thing but as a website!
One day when I was working in our front yard, a young woman stopped and told me some history of our house. Her grandparents lived in our house when she was little. They were Bosnian immigrants and had an annual Christmas party in the backyard on (my birthday) January 7 which is Eastern Orthodox Christmas. They would roast a pig in a hole in the ground and the whole family would be there.
Ken, thanks for your continued contributions in disseminating history associated with the neighborhood. In addition to noting the Laos House for sale on the website, I think the members of the Laos family and their contributions to the community are also worth noting!
Terry, I appreciate a great little story about oral history and finding stories of our past from other neighbors and even passersby.
A few of you have referenced my Tata, Alberto Elías, as a longtime resident of Armory Park. I would also share some family/neighborhood history predating my Tata. The print shop my Tata operated from 1966 to 2015, Old Pueblo Printers, is located on the edge of Armory Park at 255 N Stone Av. Before the operation of that union print shop, this location previously housed another half-century of print-related history. Alberto's grandparents Rosa and Francisco Moreno operated a Spanish-language newspaper El Tucsonense (The Tucsonan) from 1915-1962. The building still stands and is still in the family but my Tata would always say one of his proudest achievements was helping to get the print copies of El Tucsonense and other Spanish-language newspapers from around the American Southwest digitally archived with the University of Arizona Libraries (accessible to all here). I have included the cover of a bound, color print copy of 16th Anniversary edition of El Tucsonense, and photos of the front facade of the shop, including one with the print & distribution staff.
Hope you enjoy another bit of our history.
Thanks for sharing, Ben. Your Tata was the best! He designed my company logo and did all of our printing. I loved his dedication to the Democratic Party and it’s principles, his humor and the many lessons he taught me about the printing industry. We had many a long discussion about the state of the world and I appreciated his insight. I miss that beautiful, slow grin of his that developed into a huge smile. Thank you for the memory.
Nick Van Kleeck
A long-time Armory Park resident, since deceased, told me that most of the area south of 19th around Santa Rita Park was railroad yard until about 1950, when the property was sold to the city. Most of the homes on 2nd Avenue south of 19th were built then. What is now Santa Rita Park was an area used for camping by hobos riding the rails in the time of the Great Depression in the 1930s and perhaps earlier. He said that Jack Kerouac had slept there when traveling as a hobo. If it's true, I think we should put up a plaque or maybe even a statue of someone sleeping ;)
It shifted my perspective a bit, to realize that people have been sleeping in what is now Santa Rita Park longer than any of us have lived here.
I remember a huge annual party in your backyard, Terry with out of towners showing up-- a great fiesta1
In my previous lives as a political campaign manager and organizer, your Tata was my go to printer for all of my campaign materials--nothing without the union bug in my political life in the 1970s and 1980s. Loved working with him and his conversations.
Julieta on 17th--oh and by the way, an older maintenance worker at Safford Elementary/Jr High when I was in grade school, Mr. Manzo, would tell me that when he was a boy, the areas around 17th, 18th were still dusty and wild. He and his friends would hunt rabbits thereabouts. Must have been in the late part of the 1890s or so because my house and some around mine were built in 1904.
My senior paper at ua in 1973 was about how Annie and gerry braumier took our hood to historical heights along with the lawsuit against us transportation depth regarding the freeway. I included notes about some of the tcc displaced people held out for more compensation. I interviewed Annie and gerry as well as cuca angel about those events. Also, the Elias sisters were Republican. I circulated many petitions and knew almost everyone's affiliation. Annie kept trying to register me republican. In 1985 I received a republican national committee membership card in the mail. I was amused and added it to my scrapbook.
What fabulous stories! Not nearly as interesting (though interesting to me): I was told that my house (1916) was actually the second house on my property and that the first one burned down. It was also noted that a number of bits and pieces (a door knob here, the bit of moulding there, etc.) pre-dates my house itself. I've always been curious to learn more, though I haven't done a thing to put that into action!
Some years ago, a bottle hunter came by to dig the latrine area of my yard (and I have him to thank for showing me that my fence was well inside my property line). Turns out it had already been dug.
Your project is such a gift to all of us. I do have some info on the history of our house.
Many thanks for your labor on this.
History of 820 S 2nd Ave.
Built 1907 By Thomas F Hendrick, who was a fireman on the Southern Pacific. Someone, perhaps Connie Weinzapfel, the Southern Pacific engineer who lived next door, told me that Hendrick was a big, strong man who actually built the house himself. His daughter, Suzanne Overacker, born 1904 in Arizona Territory, wrote us a sweet letter and sent copies of pictures of the house in winter, with the bare ash trees, and summer with the full green canopy of the ash trees.
The narrow back porch which spanned the entire back of the house was screened, and Suzanne and her little sister had cots there in the summer.
Her parents had a home bakery and ice cream factory in the kitchen. There were four cone ovens which resembled waffle irons in the kitchen. They made delicious crisp rolled ice cream cones. I asked if they had electricity, and she said, oh yes, they always had electricity. The ice cream freezers ran on electricity. They also had indoor plumbing.
I asked about the deep hole in the backyard, and she said it was probably a cess pool. But they also had a deep well.
“Until Arizona became a state, the US Calvary was stationed close to our home. It always made me sad when I heard “Taps” played every night.”
House sold in 1915
Albert Elias was such a kind gentleman! He told me that when he was a boy there was a city water tank in the vacant lot on 18th between 4th and Herbert. It held drinking water and had a ladder to the top that could be climbed if you were brave enough. How could he and his friends resist a cool swim on a dare? Of course they got in trouble, the scamps! ♥
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