Old Tucson houses and bragging rights

Old Tucson houses and bragging rights

Over my 35 years in Barrio Viejo, aka Barrio Libre, downtown, multiple neighbors have told me their house was built in the 1860s or 1870s. It's possible, but not likely. Except for ranches, there was precious little south of what we know as Cushing Street (14th Street) back then. Everyone, it seems, wants to think their house is really, really old. It's a sort of one-upsmanship in historic Tucson neighborhoods to believe you live in the oldest house.

So I was amused to recently come across notes at the Arizona Historical Society written by one of the Arizona Daily Star's best reporters -- Bernice Cosulich. In November 1940 she drove around Tucson with Harry Arizona Drachman, a Tucson native who was then 71.

Cosulich's notes say this about the area at Stone Avenue between 15th and 16th streets in 1879 or 1880: "At that time, beyond the custom's house was a wilderness and only Reid (of Reid's Opera House) had home out there; Harry Drachman, delivering Citizens (newspapers) then, wasn't allowed by mother to go in wilderness to deliver papers alone..."

Today, that wilderness is the heart of the boundary between Armory Park and Barrio Viejo. I am posting a current photo of Stone at 15th Street, looking south into the wilderness.

South Stone Avenue with the Primeria Iglesia Bautista on the right. This was the "wilderness." The prominent brown adobe with blue trim on the left side was built in the 1870s and was purchased in 1878 by Carlos Ygnacio Velasco. His family lived in the back and the front was the office of his newspaper, El Fronterizo.  One of the neighborhood's most iconic buildings, the Stone Avenue synagogue, was built in 1910. You cannot see it in this photo, but it's on the right side in the next block south. Now called the Jewish History Museum, it was the first synagogue in Arizona. 

South Stone Avenue with the Primeria Iglesia Bautista on the right. This was the "wilderness."

The prominent brown adobe with blue trim on the left side was built in the 1870s and was purchased in 1878 by Carlos Ygnacio Velasco. His family lived in the back and the front was the office of his newspaper, El Fronterizo. 

One of the neighborhood's most iconic buildings, the Stone Avenue synagogue, was built in 1910. You cannot see it in this photo, but it's on the right side in the next block south. Now called the Jewish History Museum, it was the first synagogue in Arizona. 

Who has Tucson's most creative mailbox?

Who has Tucson's most creative mailbox?

The man who designed Broadway Village and St. Philip's and St. Michael churches got his start here.

The man who designed Broadway Village and St. Philip's and St. Michael churches got his start here.