Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The historic small houses of Phoenix Arizona

While I often write about large houses, mansions even, long time readers know that I have always had a preference for well designed small houses (it has been over 7 years now so I think that constitutes a long time!). The golden era of this was the 1920s in my opinion when many high-quality, small houses were built in varied styles.
Just north of downtown Phoenix are a host of 'historic' neighborhoods which are small lots with even smaller houses from this era in a plethora of styles.
One of the things I enjoyed most was seeing these lovely small houses as they were meant to be - STILL SMALL! The problem here in Washington, DC is that small houses quickly get 2nd stories, enormous additions, and become mcmansions in their own right spoiling their jewel-box qualities. Size vs quality?
The other aspect of checking out these neighborhoods was enjoying the lovely gardens people have created here in this arid climate. While some are native desert landscapes (which I enjoyed the most I must admit as they felt 'exotic' to my eastern eyes) others are as lush and green as a house in Maine. Just check out this bungalow above which looks straight out of a California suburb.
One of the oddest houses I came upon wasn't actually very small at 6,000 SF and looked like it was dropped out of the English countryside.
Built in 1930 by Carter Gibbes with builder Neil Gates the house appears to be hundreds of years old. Perhaps they used some reclaimed materials from England like the Virginia House or Agecroft Hall  in Richmond.
The shrubbery and grass was also a bit of jolly old England in the desert of Arizona. While hands down my favorite house it does seem a tad inappropriate for the climate and location?
More fitted to the environment was this recently remodeled bungalow.  It's easy to forget how much work it is to have such green grass in Phoenix!
This charming little bungalow also caught my eye although I wish they hadn't planted the tree directly in the middle of the house!
While the photograph is hard to see notice the wonky Cotswold cottage style roofline on this house -can't you see it being thatched? I'm sure it wouldn't last long though in the Phoenix summer heat.
This house also was charming and cozy looking; Loved the front porch.
Nearby was an art deco church with this very Hollywood Regency looking entry canopy.
England to France to California and now Italy -have you ever seen an Italian style ranch complete with Della Robbia plaque? This seems very appropriate to the climate and I love the clay tile roof.
This house was renovated to be modern but retains the compact size. I loved the entry courtyard.
The cactus garden above is really fun and I loved these wispy green trees seen to the left and in all of my favorite gardens -does anyone know what they are?
Of course most houses were either Spanish mission style or a modified Pueblo design like these two.
This 2 story house looks to be plucked out of Beverly Hills, no?
As does this house below which could have been the house of an aging Norma Desmond.
And straight out of Carmel, California were a number of cute storybook cottages!
The one above could use a little curbside enhancement but the form is basically there.
In contrast, this house is clean and tidy and lets the irregular roofline speak.
This large Tudor style house could have been in Connecticut except for the palm trees and yellowed grass.
Last but not least, Marcel DuChamp eat your heart out!  A condo development featured this statue of a woman holding a urinal -doesn't this just scream 'welcome home'? Hope you enjoyed seeing these small houses and maybe even got some inspiration; Bigger isn't always (and infrequently is) better!

17 comments:

Karena Albert said...

Wonderful Stefan. Seeing this post reminded me of the Kensington neighborhood in San Diego. There are street after winding street of these little jewels built in the 20's and 30's!

xoxo
Karena
2014 Artists Series

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Karena, I've never been to SanDiego but sounds like I'd like it! I'll keep Kensington in mind!

An Urban Cottage said...

I have family in the Phoenix area and I had no idea these places existed. They almost convinced me that the city was devoid of any culture or anything interesting to see. I would have loved to tour these neighborhoods. Do you know if they're expensive relative to the area because they're in an historic neigborhood?

ArchitectDesign™ said...

AUC - the area is affordable if a bit more expensive than other areas by square footage due to the small house size but central location as far as I could tell. The area had the Art museum and Heart museum minutes away as well as lots of art galleries, concert venues, etc.

sjr said...

love the old Phoenix neighborhoods, my sister lived in one of them, actually one of the houses you posted looks like hers! I was freshly graduated from college when I visited her and just beginning to appreciate architecture but I can remember vividly details of her house after 29 years!

Loi Thai, Tone on Tone said...

I also adore smaller houses! Such beautiful ones you've shared. Love the sweeping lines of that Tudor.

Stephilius said...

Thanks for all the great houses!

"Hollywood Regency". Is that official arch-terminology? I used to live in LA, rather loved that style, and called it that myself. But I've never before heard it referred to as that.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

SJR - thats the sign of a good house! Really loved the neighborhood.
Loi - Lots of graceful Tudors! I'm dubious that these are appropriate in the desert but I still like them!
Stephilius - I don't think it is architectural language. It's probably a subset of Art Deco but I think it's more accurate a description and one people tend to understand!

Mark D. Ruffner said...

Dear Stefan,

What a fun tour! I have to say that the house that appealed to me most was that simple, clean first bungalow. In all its simplicity, it's a jewel.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Mark, mine too!!!

home before dark said...

Love the small houses! Ten comments and no one is mentioning the urinal? I live in a university town and it seems every winter we have enough snow there is some kind of pee-brained kind of snow sculpture made. Our city sponsors an annual street sculpture exhibit. One year it was a stack (like 8' or so) of real toilets bolted together. It had be taken down early because so many drunk people had tried to use "the facilities". It does give one a migraine, no?

Jeff D. said...

I could be wrong but I think the trees you like are Palo Verde Trees.
Cercidium floridum
Blue palo verde
Fabaceae Family, http://ag.arizona.edu/pima/gardening/aridplants/Cercidium_floridum.html

The Down East Dilettante said...

So agree about the high quality of small house design in the 20s (and 30s). If only we could teach people not to want such big incoherent houses nowadays...

ArchitectDesign™ said...

HBD - luckily this urinal is about 10 feet in the air or I'm sure some drunk joker would have had a go in it by now!
Jeff -thanks so much, that seems to be correct!!
DED - sad but true. I think the only times the average home buyer sees the light is in times of energy crises like the 1970s.

Anonymous said...

I hope you post on the Wriggly Mansion. There use to be a restaurant and you got to dine in the actual dining room. FLWs Biltmore is across the street as well. Both are in Scottsdale.

Divine Theatre said...

A statue. Of a woman. Holding a urinal.

Lord Cowell said...

Not sure I would like that 'sculpture' in a gallery, let alone in a residential setting.