East Evergreen Historic District
The East Evergreen Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. Portions of the content of this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2014, The Gombach Group.
The East Evergreen Historic District was largely developed as a Streetcar Subdivision (1887-1925). In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, land owners beyond the city limits enticed streetcar companies to build lines to their new additions in an effort to promote sales. Developers typically subdivided their land in a grid pattern of perpendicular streets and rectangular blocks that yielded the maximum number of deep, narrow lots within walking distance of the nearest streetcar stop. Development in the East Evergreen can be directly attributed to the extension of the streetcar line north of the city along Third Street to the Phoenix Indian School in 1909; that same year, the East Evergreen Addition to the city of Phoenix was platted so that no house lay more than a few blocks from the streetcar stop at Third Street and McDowell Road. Ready access to reliable transportation inspired growth in the district and within a few years, numerous houses—most of them exhibiting Craftsman stylistic qualities—appeared on the district's main streets of Willetta, Lynwood, and 5th Street. In addition to East Evergreen, the Garfield, North Garfield, Coronado, and Kenilworth districts are examples of late 19th and early 20th century streetcar subdivisions.
The district contains a good collection of early 20th century domestic buildings with a high degree of integrity.
The East Evergreen Historic District is associated with early 20th century land development patterns in Phoenix, as an intact remnant of what was once a larger, contiguous neighborhood filled with houses and duplexes built during Phoenix's early northward expansion along streetcar lines. Its initial development corresponded to a tremendous population boom in the Phoenix area with the construction of Roosevelt Dam in 1911. These influences—the great influx of new residents to the Phoenix area and the efforts of developers to provide transportation between their subdivisions and downtown businesses—formed the foundation for successful Streetcar Suburbs in Phoenix.
The East Evergreen Historic District clearly represents one of Phoenix's most important land development trends of the early 20th century: the Streetcar Suburb. Like many other subdivisions of the 1910s and 1920s, it was platted from former agricultural land on the city's periphery. Developers influenced street railway executives to extend their lines northward to provide transportation between their planned subdivisions and downtown businesses. By 1909, the railway extended north from the downtown business zone all the way to the Phoenix Indian School, a distance of about five miles. The line ran along Third Street which formed the western boundary of the original 20-block East Evergreen Addition. Installation of the streetcar—a sure sign of development potential—likely led to the city's annexation of the addition in 1909 (East Evergreen Addition to Phoenix, Ordinance No. 422, 1909). The addition consisted of two rows of blocks separated by Fifth Street; neither Fourth Street nor Sixth Street passed through the addition. The blocks were laid out with most of the building lots fronting onto the east-west streets. Third Street was an exception with wide lots fronting the north-south street. This lot and block arrangement ensured that no person in the addition lived more than two blocks from the streetcar line. Although the wider lots fronted the streetcar line on Third Street, narrower lots in the subdivision's interior proved initially more popular; by 1915, scores of houses lined the east-west streets of the East Evergreen Addition. Construction continued throughout the 1910s and 1920s. The neighborhood's popularity led developers to open a new street—Lynwood Street—carved from the northeast corner of the tract. Single-family houses filled most of the lots in the East Evergreen Historic District by 1929, the peak year of streetcar use. By the time the automobile supplanted the streetcar, East Evergreen was full of late Victorian and Craftsman-influenced bungalows. A parcel of land at the northeast corner of Lynwood and Fifth Street was retained as a community park. The East Evergreen Historic District thus represents important development trends such as the northward expansion of the city, the transformation of agricultural land to residential housing, and the impact of the streetcar in directing the city's suburban growth in the early 20th century.
The East Evergreen Historic District is also a showcase for early 20th century residential architecture. The district is noteworthy for its excellent concentration of early 20th century residential architecture, particularly its Craftsman influenced bungalows. The neighborhood was largely developed between ca. 1911 and 1929, and its cultural resources reflect fashionable architectural trends from that period. By 1911, when construction began in the addition, Victorian styles had waned in popularity. As a result, only one extant house in the district exhibits hallmarks of late Victorian design such as an L-plan, asymmetrical massing, and a bay window. Bungalows, on the other hand, were on the rise in subdivisions across Phoenix at the time the East Evergreen Addition opened for development. Craftsman-influenced bungalows were particularly popular at that time. Consequently, the neighborhood filled with Craftsman-influenced bungalows featuring gabled roofs, generous front porches, triangular knee braces, exposed rafter ends, and tapered porch posts on brick or stucco piers. It is the Craftsman style and the bungalow plan that best characterize the district.
Residential properties built in the district after 1929 include two hipped roof duplexes, an apartment building, and an Early Ranch style house now used as an office. Built in the 1940s, the duplexes and the Early Ranch style house reflect the progression of residential architecture during the historic period. They are compatible with the district in size, scale, roof pitch and are contributing elements of the district.
The collective resources in the East Evergreen Historic District convey a strong sense of early 20th century development in Phoenix when Craftsman-influenced bungalows dominated residential construction in streetcar suburbs throughout the city.
The East Evergreen Historic District traces its origins to the late 19th century when Phoenix area farmers began subdividing their land for development. Wealthy farmer J. T. Simms was among them; in 1887, he surveyed a quarter section of land about half a mile north of the city and named it Central Place. The sprawling tract was bounded by Central Avenue on the west, Apache Street (7th Street) on the east, Roosevelt Street on the south, and McDowell Road on the north.
Instead of platting his land into individual housing lots, Simms divided it into larger tracts for sale to individual developers. These lots ranged in size from 177' to 200' wide and from 245' to 345' long. Simms advertised their sale for $450 to $500 apiece. By 1900, Lloyd B. and Mary Emma Christy purchased the tract and changed its name from Central Place to the Evans Addition. A plat map filed in December 1900 shows that street names were changed to correspond with those already established in Phoenix. Lot sizes remained large with all but four of the 20 lots divided into quarters; the four remaining blocks contained six lots apiece.
Lloyd and Mary Emma Christy most likely anticipated the development potential of their property, especially since the Phoenix Railway Company announced the construction of a new streetcar line along Third Street, through the middle of their new addition. In fact, property owners along the line subsidized its construction, hopeful that its presence would be a boon to development. The streetcar line lay about halfway between Central Avenue and 7th Street, and provided excellent streetcar service to the entire addition. In 1900, such an amenity was a great incentive to families who wished to buy a new home but who required easy access to the central business district.
General population growth in the Phoenix area, along with the expansion of streetcar lines, pushed the city's development beyond its original townsite boundaries. The 1911 Sanborn Fire Insurance Company maps of the area show considerable construction in the vicinity of the Third Street (Indian School) streetcar line, especially along First and Second streets which were close to the streetcar line but not directly fronting the tracks. Within a few years, development in the Evans Addition was nearly complete in areas closest to the city limits and well underway on streets further north.
During the first decade of the 20th century, the Evans Addition was further subdivided into smaller tracts including Evergreen Place (1907), which lay west of Third Street and north of Roosevelt, and North Evergreen (1908), which lay west of Second Street and north of Westmoreland Street. In 1909, husband and wife Lloyd and Mary Emma Christy carved the East Evergreen subdivision of the Evans Addition out of the former Central Place/Evans Addition plats. The city of Phoenix promptly annexed the subdivision later that year.
According to the East Evergreen Addition plat, the subdivision was bounded by Third Street on the west, Roosevelt Street on the south, Seventh Street on the east, and McDowell Road on the north. The new plat map indicated 152 building lots, most measuring either 70' by 190' or 95' by 140'. Although some lots fronted onto Third Street, along the streetcar line, they typically fronted onto the east-west streets throughout the addition. The eight lots at the northern end of the subdivision retained their original large size as established in the Central Place subdivision, though four of these would be subdivided by 1920.
Within a few years of its platting, numerous houses appeared along the streets of the East Evergreen. Although the 1911 Sanborn maps do not include this area, it is clear that adjacent blocks, especially those along the streetcar line, were being developed at that time. By 1915, development had spread across much of the East Evergreen subdivision, particularly in the southernmost blocks closest to the city. One of the last sections of East Evergreen to be completed was the far northeast corner of the addition which comprises the present historic district.
The earliest known construction in the East Evergreen Historic District occurred in 1911 when several houses were completed. One is the Col. James H. McClintock House at 323 E. Willetta Street, an individually listed National Register property constructed in 1911. McClintock served as an officer in Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War. He helped found the Arizona Republican newspaper and worked as a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times for twenty-five years. McClintock served as a Tempe Justice of the Peace and helped select the site for Roosevelt Dam. After publishing his three-volume history of Arizona in 1916, he was appointed Arizona State Historian. McClintock's two-story, side gable house possesses strong Craftsman elements. It is finished in stucco and features a large front gable dormer, a full-width inset porch, knee braces, and notched rafter ends.
Several other early houses in the district share the McClintock House's large size and Craftsman design. The c. 1913 house at 339 E. Willetta Street may have been built by grocer Ernest Linsenmeyer and his wife Ottilia; members of their family occupied the dwelling from at least 1918 through 1955 (Phoenix city directories). The house is a 1-1/2 story, side gable dwelling with a large front gable dormer. Like the McClintock House, it features a full-width inset porch, though it has been partially enclosed. Neighboring houses at 516 (ca. 1911) and 518 E. Willetta Street (c. 1914) are side gable, stucco dwellings with large shed roof dormers; the Calvin Bois House at 516 E. Willetta Street features a wraparound porch. Construction progressed at a steady pace on Willetta Street and by 1915, fifteen houses stood in the 300-500 block of Willetta Street. Three more modest houses in the 500 block of Willetta complete the historic streetscape. Built between 1922 and 1928, these smaller bungalows also feature Craftsman details with the ca. 1928 house at 538 E. Willetta Street exhibiting some Ranch style elements.
By 1917, the East Evergreen Addition had proven popular and developers decided to wedge an additional street in the vacant blocks between Willetta Street and McDowell Road. Lynwood Street stretches between Fifth and Seventh streets and runs parallel to Willetta Street. Because it was crowded onto a small tract of land, lots on Lynwood are approximately half the size of other building lots in the district. The earliest known house on the street is the Craftsman bungalow at 525 E. Lynwood Street. By 1924, all but one of the extant houses on the block was complete and that one was finished in 1929.
One of the large lots in the northern part of the addition remained undeveloped for decades, though it was an attractive building site with frontage on McDowell Road and proximity to the Third Street streetcar line. The approximately one-and-a-half acre site is located at the southeast corner of Fifth Street and McDowell Road and is within the boundaries of the East Evergreen Historic District. The Phoenix Elementary School District owned the property and leased it to the city of Phoenix as a community park through the 1930s and early 1940s.
By 1930, the unimproved land had become known as Townsend Park, though it seems to have been an informal designation at that time. The park was named in honor of Fred Blair Townsend, a prominent Phoenix attorney who lived on the north side of McDowell Road, directly across from the park. Aside from his law practice, Townsend served as president of the Commercial Law League of America and president of the Roosevelt Water Conservation District. He was also the first state adjutant of the Arizona American Legion and one of Phoenix's first city planning commissioners.
During the 1930s, Phoenix followed national trends by establishing or maintaining numerous small parks for neighborhood recreation. Townsend Park was one of many small, one-to-five acre city parks scattered throughout the city in the 1930s; others included Woodlawn Park (three and a half acres), South Central Park (three acres), Library Park (three and a half acres), Portland Park (one and a half acres), and Moreland Park (one and a half acres). These small parks typically featured grassy lawns and shade trees for picnics and play.
Though largely built out by 1930, a small amount of later development took place within the East Evergreen Historic District boundaries. Two postwar duplexes were built at 502 E. Willetta Street and 1409 N. 5th Street, as well as post-war Early Ranch style house at 1430 N. 5th Street. Although they are newer than most of the surrounding dwellings, they represent the final build-out phase and contribute to the character of the East Evergreen Historic District. They are similar in size and scale to older East Evergreen houses and feature compatible design elements, such as exposed rafter ends. The duplexes have hipped roofs with hipped roof porch entries, a Flemish bond brick pattern, and steel casement windows. The single-family Ranch style dwelling at 1403 N. Fifth Street is side gabled, has steel casement windows and a Flemish bond brick pattern, and also features an attached, one car garage.
Another example of later development is the c. 1965 apartment building at 1422 N. 5th Street. A large 1-1/2 story, side gable house, probably similar to the early homes on Willetta Street, once stood on the lot and was still extant as late as 1949, according to Sanborn maps of that date. Situated on a lot large enough to support multi-family development, the house was most likely demolished for the apartment building. The apartment complex has a painted concrete block exterior and a flat roof. While an intact example of its era, it represents a major departure from the single-family homes and duplexes found throughout the East Evergreen Historic District. Elements such as its architecture, roof form, size, and scale render are out of context with East Evergreen and it is thus considered noncontributing to the district.
One house in the neighborhood, 531 E. Lynwood Street, was moved to its current site in 2004. It was formerly located in a nearby neighborhood that is architecturally similar to the East Evergreen district. This house is a contemporary of early dwellings in the district built during the period of significance, and has compatible design and materials, setback and orientation as others in the district. Therefore, it is considered a contributing property in the East Evergreen historic district. Several East Evergreen houses have undergone modification and while many are still single family residences, a few have been converted for light commercial purposes. Most of the houses have had some alteration over time but only one has been seriously compromised by window replacements and changes in the size and orientation of the window openings. These alterations resulted in noncontributing status for the building. The area surrounding the historic district has changed, as McDowell Road has become a major commercial thoroughfare through the area with its many supermarkets, convenience stores, hotels, and restaurants. Nevertheless, the East Evergreen Historic District, with its dense collection of early 20th century Craftsman style houses, conveys a strong sense of history.
† Terri Myers, Historian, Kristen Brown, Architectural Historian and Karen Thompson, Architectural Historian, Preservation Central, Inc., East Evergreen Historic District, Maricopa County, AZ, nomination document, 2009, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.