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Tucson's Historic Neighborhood - A Self Guided Driving Tour

Because Tucson offers several extended historic zones and since many of you may not have the time or desire to spend on the walking tour, I offer the following suggested driving tours.

El Presidio
El Presidio is bounded on the north by 6th Street, on the south by Alameda Avenue, on the east by Church Avenue, and on the west by Granada Avenue. It includes some of the oldest adobe structures in Tucson, built in the middle 1850s, to some of our most elegant mansions, built in the very early 1900s. The area also includes the boundaries of the old Spanish presidio, San Agustin del Tucson, established in 1775, and the site of an Indian pit house, circa 800.
Barrio Historico
The Barrio is bounded on the north by Cushing (14th) Street, on the south by 18th Street, on the east by Stone Avenue and on the west by the railroad.  Believed to be the "best in the west", there are over 150 old adobes in the area with a choice collection along Convent Avenue between Cushing and 17th Streets. Note the colorful walls and doorways as you drive through the area, a Mexican tradition. You may wish to make a stop at El Tiradito on Main Avenue, just south of Cushing Street.

Armory Park Historic District
The Armory Park Historic District was Tucson's first official historic district, established in December 1974. The area was developed in the 1880s when the railroad arrived in town, and contains many lovely homes that are examples of those constructed by Tucson's affluent and working class citizens in the late 1800s and the first decade of the 1900s.  The boundaries are approximately 12th Street on the north, 19th Street on the south, 2nd and 3rd Avenues on the east, and Stone Avenue on the west.

At the turn of the century, Tucson was in a period of architectural transition - the Anglo- American styles were encroaching on and adding to the Spanish/ Mexican building styles. Wooden roofs and porches were added to the Sonoran "mud boxes" as Tucson's adobes appeared to newcomers of the day. Many Armory Park homes were built by speculators and are similar, in tract-fashion, while others are "custom houses" with an eye for design and craftsmanship. The buildings of Armory Park work together to form an architectural whole - a special neighborhood loved by those who live there.

One stop you may wish to make is at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 South Scott Street.
Built as a cultural center in 1920, the Spanish colonial revival building had as its first performer, Jascha Heifetz, and the first Tucson talkies were shown here.  It was used for recitals and concerts by local artists and was the original home of the Tucson Fine Arts Association and the Tucson Boy's Chorus.

Restoration was begun in 1976 and the building is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The front courtyard is a beautiful Mexican design with its fountain and tile and is a lovely place to relax. 

West University Historic District
This area presently is not a city historic zone, but it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 12, 1980. It is bounded on the north by Speedway Blvd, on the south by East 5th Street, on the east by Tyndall Avenue and on the west by Stone.  The buildings in the area reflect architectural styles from 1890-1930.

There are a wide variety of different styles, with some typical tract houses of the time and others designed by Tucson architects. Trost and Trost, a major southwestern architectural firm, designed four homes and Henry O. Jaastad, one of Tucson's most prolific architects, designed some fifty of the houses. You may wish to drive around the area where you will see everything from California bungalows to Pueblo Revival, Tudor Revival, Victorian and Queen Anne styles.
Pie Allen Neighborhood
The Pie Allen Neighborhood, located near Tucson High School, is bounded on the north by 6th Street, on the south by 10th Street, on the east by Park Avenue and on the west by 6th Avenue.
The area had its beginnings in the 1870s when John Bracket (Pie) Allen, who earned his nickname selling pies made from dried apples, laid claim to the area near the railroad tracks, believing the railroad workers and their families would need homes near their jobs. Included are Anglo/Territorial brick homes, Sonoran adobe homes and Mediterranean Revival styles. Many of the original buildings had flat mud roofs supported by heavy vigas, however most of them later had the ceilings dropped for modernization, and hipped and gabled roofs were built over the original roofs.

An apartment complex on the northeast corner of 2nd Avenue and 9th Street was designed by a famous Tucson architect, Josias Th. Joesler and several homes in the area were designed by Henry Jaastad.

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