Winterhaven Historic District
The Winterhaven Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2013, The Gombach Group.
The Winterhaven Historic District is made up of 265 residences that are notable examples of the modern ranch style. These homes are set within a neighborhood that is unique in Tucson for its park-like atmosphere which is created by green, non-native landscaping that lines the wide, curving streets. This makes Winterhaven distinct from both its immediate neighbors and from other neighborhoods in Tucson as a whole.
Winterhaven's layout is oriented to the automobile and its arrangement of wide, curving streets dictates a leisurely pace when progressing through the neighborhood. Winterhaven's dominant use of green lawns and nonnative trees creates a Midwestern environment that is unique in Tucson. The neighborhood's green vegetation creates a visual cohesiveness throughout the neighborhood. Winterhaven residences are fronted by lawns that extend to the street, blending individual lots together and creating a park-like setting. This lush environment is made possible by Winterhaven's private water system, which consists of three wells that provide water for household and irrigation use in the neighborhood.
The overall cohesiveness of the Winterhaven Historic District also stems from the architecture of its modern Ranch Style residences. This architectural cohesiveness is due to the neighborhood's review process, which ensured that all of the neighborhood's residences would be architecturally compatible. Thus Winterhaven's residences exhibit a high level of uniformity that extends to each home's overall form, floor plan, architectural features and building materials. However this design vocabulary is employed in a number of combinations that give the neighborhood's ranch homes variety. The distinctive ranch style features common throughout Winterhaven include low, horizontal massing, asymmetrical facades and carports.
Winterhaven's layout is focused inward, providing only four points of entry into the neighborhood. The principal entry in to Winterhaven is from Fort Lowell Road, where it's marked by a decorative sign that was installed in the 1990s. Other means of entry to and from the neighborhood are unmarked. Those residences that line Winterhaven's periphery along Prince, Country Club and Fort Lowell Roads are somewhat isolated from the rest of the internally focused neighborhood but provide the outward expression of the neighborhood on those streets.
Winterhaven's combination of wide streets lined with large Aleppo pine trees and green lawns creates a Midwestern, park-like setting for the neighborhood. The central lot placement of Winterhaven's homes makes front lawns and driveways the dominant features of the neighborhood from the street. This uniform setback of the residences and the lack of individual property definition, such as fences or walls, allow the front yards to blend together into a continuous landscape of lawns adjacent to the street. This effect reinforces Winterhaven's strong sense of community through the dominance of a harmonious, communal streetscape over the individual residences.
All of Winterhaven's homes are defined by their low rectilinear forms and they commonly have rectangular or L-shaped floor plans. Their roofs are all relatively low in keeping with the horizontal character of ranch style homes. Roof forms include gable, cross pitched gable or hipped arranged at low or medium pitches. Those homes with gable roofs often feature horizontal or vertical wood siding at their gable ends. Several homes also feature deep roof overhangs and/or exposed end-beams.
Reflecting the connection between the automobile and the ranch style house, nearly all of Winterhaven's residences originally contained a carport. These carports fall into one of several types; integrated, attached and a small number of detached carports. Integrated carports are defined as being an extension of the home's roofline. Attached carports are distinguished by a separate roof form or ridge line from the rest of the house but still connected to it. Detached carports are entirely separate from the main residence. These carports all are supported by metal or wood decorative columns and/or brick sidewalls. There were a few original garages (enclosed with a garage door), but many original carports have been subsequently filled in and have became enclosed garages.
There is also a variation in the types of front entries into the homes. The principal types are: recessed entries, recessed entries with integrated entry porches, wide porches and those homes with no recessed entry or entry porch. Recessed entries are those homes which feature an entry that is slightly set back from the main body of the house. Those that feature recessed entry with integrated entry porch vary from a small to large roof extension over the door. Homes with wide porches are defined as those in which the porch extends over one third or more of the front facade. Winterhaven's front porches are usually supported by thin metal or wooden decorative columns.
In 1947 the future site of Winterhaven was occupied by the Tucson Fertilizer Company, which was owned by Charles Brady (C.B.) Richards of the Richards Development Company. Richards sought to capitalize on Tucson's post-war boom by redeveloping the site for single-family residences and he discussed these plans with attorney C. Wayne Clampitt and James Reidy. They consulted designer Tony Blanton who advised them that additional land would have to be acquired to form a profitable tract for residential development. Ultimately Richards was able to acquire enough property adjacent to the Tucson Fertilizer Company site to form an initial 87 acre tract.
Blanton began the yearlong process of planning and engineering of the Winterhaven subdivision in the spring of 1948 in accordance with the City of Tucson building codes and laws that existed between 1948 and 1950. Although Blanton designed the actual layout of the neighborhood, its character was dictated by C.B. Richards. Richards sought to recreate in Winterhaven what he envisioned as a typical Midwestern environment; one with expansive swaths of lawn and large green trees. Richards felt that constructing Winterhaven in this manner would embody its residents with what he felt were the wholesome values of middle class Midwesterners. Richards was especially inspired by the community of Shaker Heights, Ohio near Cleveland. Incorporated in 1912, Shaker Heights drew on ideas from the Garden City Movement in Britain and emphasized quality architecture and landscape design. Residences were designed to be substantial while at the same time affordable to the middle-class and the neighborhood's streets were lined with large trees. As would be done later at Winterhaven, residences in Shaker Heights had to meet a minimum construction cost and to blend with the overall neighborhood aesthetic.
Winterhaven appropriated a layout of curving streets and irregularly shaped lots that had been used previously in Tucson at the affluent Colonia Solana and El Encanto neighborhoods. However Winterhaven was to be unique in Tucson for the dominance and uniformity of its green landscape, which was dictated by Richards to recreate the Midwestern environment that he sought to emulate. Winterhaven original plan also included such ultimately unrealized amenities as a community clubhouse, playground, and pool; although it is unclear where these amenities were to be located. The plan also included un-built commercial space along Ft. Lowell in the area presently occupied by Site 124. Richards himself named all of the neighborhood's streets except the one that bore his own name, Richards Row, which was likely named by Tony Blanton.
The new subdivision opened for public inspection in August of 1949 with an initial 271 homesites available for the construction of $9,000 to $16,000 homes. Ultimately 265 residences were constructed in Winterhaven, due to several homes that occupied more that one lot. William O. Fraesdorf of the Canyon State and Land Company was hired by Richards as the on-site salesman of Winterhaven's lots. Winterhaven was advertised to include lots that were on average 70 to 80 feet across and 120 to 135 feet deep. The neighborhood was also marketed on the basis of its million dollar "distinctive improvements" that included the paved streets, curbs, street lights, water hydrants, parkway landscaping and the right of the residents to operate their own waterworks ("Subdivision to Open Sunday for Inspection," 1949). Other points advertised during the sale of Winterhaven's lots were its access to good schools and adequate bus service.
Winterhaven's first homes were completed in 1949, initiating eight years of consistent home construction. By 1961, all but seven of Winterhaven's 265 residences had been built. Four residences were built in the remaining years of the 1960s, two in the 1970s and the final construction being an apartment complex along Fort Lowell in 1980. Winterhaven's last single family residence was constructed in 1976. The majority of this construction was on scattered lots throughout the neighborhood, the exception being two adjoining residences on Treat Circle built in 1969. Most of the single family residences constructed after 1961 were built consistent with the ranch style typology, though the building forms, materials and details distinguish these homes from the earlier development representing the period of significance. This consistency is largely due to the neighborhood's review process that dictates architecturally harmonious new construction. Thus Winterhaven's ranch houses visually suggest a single period of construction.
† Jason Fox, Brandy Billingsley. Sai-Ho Hiew. Jeff Leven, Andrew Munandar. Elizabeth Rendon and David Short with the assistance of R. Brooks Jeffery, Preservation Studies. CAPLA, University of Arizona, Winterhaven Historic District, Pima County, AZ, nomination document, 2003, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.