Photo: Home in the F. Q. Story Neighborhood Historic District, Phoenix, AZ. The Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Photographed by user:Kabugenyo, 2012, (own work) [cc-by-3.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed November, 2016.
The F. Q. Story Neighborhood Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Portions of the content of this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]
The F. Q. Story Neighborhood Historic District is located in Phoenix which lies in the Salt River Valley of central Arizona. It is located northwest of the central business district and north of the state Capitol. The district is roughly bounded on the north by McDowell Road, on the south by Roosevelt Street, on the east by Seventh Avenue, and on the west by Grand Avenue which runs on a northwest-southeast alignment. The district is bisected by the Papago Freeway which runs east-west and creates two discontiguous sections of the Story district. Surrounded by residential neighborhoods on the north, south, and east, and by commercial and industrial development on the west, the F. Q. Story Neighborhood is one of Phoenix's few remaining historic residential areas and retains a great amount of architectural integrity from its period of development. The historic district includes an area equivalent to 20 city blocks. The district is essentially residential in character having only a few commercial, religious, and educational buildings at its periphery. The neighborhood, developed from 1920 through 1938, is laid out in a rectangular grid plan with palm tree-lined streets and is characterized by mature green landscaping which blends together a diversity of early bungalows, Tudor, and Spanish Colonial Revival houses, and later ranch houses.
The F. Q. Story Neighborhood Historic District architectural character is dominated by Period Revival houses, being split almost equally between Spanish Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival. The neighborhood also contains examples of other Revival styles, such as English Cottage, Norman Cottage, Mediterranean, Pueblo, Mission, Neoclassical, Colonial, and Art Moderne. Bungalows and Ranch style occur in numbers roughly equal to the Period Revival houses. Prairie houses and Minimal Traditional dwellings are also scattered through the area.
Some buildings have undergone various alterations, usually additions, porch infills, or window alterations; however, the majority of the houses are completely intact, and the contributors have retained integrity of design and construction.
The historic district is unified with a rectilinear street plan, lots with 45' to 63' frontage, consistent setbacks, one-story houses, palm treelined sidewalks and mature landscaping. Seen as whole, the neighborhood is a homogeneous assemblage of diverse architectural styles. In spite of commercial encroachment at its perimeter and the intrusion of a freeway across its width, the neighborhood has managed to remain intact, to preserve its integrity, and to maintain its condition in good repair.
The impact of the automobile on American suburban life is reflected in the backyard detached garages which match the style of their respective houses and in the side yard porte cocheres which are integral with the houses.
Significant for its role in community development in Phoenix in the early decades of the twentieth century, the F. Q. Story Historic District reflects, in the main, its 1920s middle class origin (a neighborhood touted to be "something for everyone") and its subsequent development up to the economic beginning of World War II. Platted in six sections over a seven year period, still has the look and feel of a cohesive neighborhood. The inevitable changes that have occurred do not detract from the commonality of construction, period, craftsmanship, scale, materials, setback, and landscaping.
In comparison with the other Phoenix residential sections (Roosevelt Neighborhood Multiple Resources Area, Encanto-Palmcroft Historic District, and Coronado Neighborhood Historic District), the Story Addition is similar in some respects. First, it was promoted initially as a speculative venture by men of wealth and influence who bought large blocks of land for resale never intending to live in the area. Second, like Roosevelt and Coronado, Story was advertised as a streetcar suburb, being near the two carlines of Kenilworth and Grand Avenue. That aspect of Phoenix transportation, however, was never as important to Story residents as it was to those in Roosevelt and Coronado. By the early 1930s when the majority of Story homes were being built and occupied, the automobile was fast becoming an indispensable fact of life for most middle class Phoenix families. By 1928, for example, the ratio of automobile owners to population was 1:3.
The F. Q. Story Neighborhood is younger than the two bungalow districts of Roosevelt (1893-1930) and Coronado (1907-1935) since it was not platted until the 1920s. Architecturally, it more closely resembles its wealthier neighbor to the north, Encanto-Palmcroft, as both are characterized by Period Revival homes, especially Tudor and Spanish Colonial Revival. The major difference between Story and Encanto-Palmcroft is in the cost and size of individual abodes with those in Story being more modest in all respects.
The District can be viewed in relation to two historic contexts: community development in Phoenix from 1920 to 1938 and the corresponding architectural development in Phoenix during the same period.
Phoenix was founded in 1870 as an agricultural community and though it was not located on a navigable stream, a large lake, or even a major railroad, it enjoyed a steady and continual growth through its first three decades. This evolution was due to two major advantages: natural attributes such as water, rich arable land, and a temperate climate; and human resources such as progressive civic leaders. These early Phoenix boosters promoted ordinances, regulations, and attitudes which gave the city an attractive visual image, encouraged enterprising businessmen and attracted much-needed outside capital. By 1900, though Tucson was still larger in size, Phoenix with a population of almost $500 was the dominant city in Arizona, the Territorial capital and the undisputed hub of agriculture, commerce, government, and transportation.
The first residential sections of Phoenix (Neahr, Collins, Irvine, and Murphy Additions) had fanned out from the original townsite until flooding of the Salt River in the late 1880s and 1890s caused residents to prudently begin building on higher ground. New additions opened north along Central Avenue, west along Washington Street toward the anticipated new Territorial capitol, and northwest adjacent to the diagonally-running Grand Avenue. In 1886, several California fruit growers had come into the Salt River Valley and purchased land, bringing with them nursery stock of young fruit trees and cuttings. A large part of the area northwest of Phoenix was transformed from grain-producing to a diversified fruit area— grapes, dates, olives, pears, peaches, apricots, and later, oranges.
Agricultural communities of Alhambra, Glendale, and Peoria flourished and townsites were laid out. To link those communities with Phoenix, Grand Avenue (a hundred-foot-wide thoroughfare) was built. It ran from the northwest corner of the Phoenix Townsite (Van Buren and Seventh Avenue) diagonally to the northwest for eighteen miles. There was a speculative land boom in 1887 when additions were opened along Grand Avenue.
Anticipation of a water storage dam on the Salt River in the early 1900s brought another land boom and a greater population influx to Phoenix. Dam construction had long been supported by civic leaders and business people. The network of irrigation canals radiating from the Salt River was the life-blood of the entire Valley, and the inadequate supply of water, seasonally and in times of prolonged drought, was an ever-recurring problem. In 1903, the federal government was induced to come into the Valley as the primary partner in the Salt River Project, the first major irrigation program undertaken under the U. S. Reclamation Act of 1902.
The "key and cornerstone" of the undertaking was a cyclopean rubble masonry dam named for President Theodore Roosevelt, located about eighty-five miles from Phoenix on the upper Salt River. Prosperity and the future growth of Phoenix were ensured, and real estate speculation increased accordingly. Subdividing of land increased because of a 160-acre restriction to individual irrigation rights which limited large landholdings. The value of both city lots and agricultural land increased at least twenty percent. The population of Phoenix burgeoned and by 1910 was 11,134 which was more than twice what it had been in 1900. Roosevelt Dam was completed in 1911, statehood for Arizona came in 1912, and Phoenix became the state capital. Valley agriculture changed somewhat with the advent of long-staple cotton, but prosperity, in the main, continued through World War I and into the 1920s. By 1920, Phoenix population had doubled again to 29,000, and in that year, the F. Q. Story Neighborhood was established.
F. Q. Story Addition
Homesteaders, 1867-1886: The land which was destined to become the F. Q. Story Neighborhood lay in the North half of Section 6, Township 1 North, Range 3 East. The tract had first been mapped by W. F. Ingalls, Deputy Surveyor for the U. S. Land Office, as part of the Gila and Salt River Meridian Survey of 1867-1868. According to that initial survey, the land was covered with a heavy growth of mesquite but the soil was good, classified as "first and second rate," i.e., "fit for cultivation." The south boundary of the tract was partially traversed by the lower Fort McDowell-Wickenburg wagon road which linked Phoenix with mines in the Wickenburg area. The first homestead patents were taken out in December of 1870 by Benjamin F. Griffin who filed on the northeast quarter of Section 6 and in March of 1871 by James A. Young who filed on the northwest quarter.
Capitalists, 1887-1919: In 1887, a Southern California landowner, Francis Quarles Story, purchased acreage in the north half of Section 6. The two- hundred-acre tract at the time may have been virgin desert, or it may have been in grain or alfalfa cultivation, irrigated by laterals from the Maricopa Canal or the Grand Canal, both of which were in operation by 1887. Story was a Boston wool merchant whose ill health had brought him to California in 1877. He settled in Los Angeles County at Alhambra in 1883, studied citrus culture, planted orange groves, and became a leading figure in the citrus and fruit industries. Story is credited with founding the national advertising campaign that made the Sunkist Orange famous. He served as president of several citrus growers' groups and was a founding director of the California Fruit Growers' Association, serving as its president from 1897 to 1920. Active in many educational and conservation endeavors, F. Q. Story was a director and president of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and an indefatigable booster of commercial and industrial enterprises in California arid Arizona. He was one of those prominent Southern California landowners who had expanded into the Salt River Valley of Arizona in the late 1880s and invested in land, promoting both agricultural and townsite development. Story was a primary partner in the design and construction of the Grand Avenue thoroughfare in 1887 and the subsequent building of the Grand Avenue street railway line; he was also one of the financial backers of Grand Avenue and University Additions; and was influential in the founding of the Alhambra settlement "at the end of the Grand Avenue carline." One of the first subdivisions promoted as a streetcar neighborhood, the Grand Avenue Addition was considered prime residential property, and its backers envisioned upper class residences. The first hundred lots or so sold rapidly for $250 to $400 each, but actual building was slow and modest. By 1905, most of the addition remained unsold, and in 1912, a lot could be purchased for as low as $30. This disappointing lack of development can be traced to several factors: the nation-wide depression of 1893, the distance of Grand Avenue Addition from the business section of Phoenix, the large blocks of land purchased for investment rather than home building, and the valid fear of periodic flooding by the intermittently-flowing Cave Creek whose southward drainage pattern was directly through the area.
If the whole Grand Avenue project had developed successfully in the 1880s and 1890s, then Story might have also opened for home building the two hundred acres he had purchased which lay directly east of the Grand Avenue Addition, the future Story Neighborhood. He did indicate in 1910, according to a newspaper story, that he was ready for subdividing as soon as the growth of Phoenix permitted. But Francis Story never platted his land, and in 1919, he sold the entire tract to the Phoenix firm of Jordan, Grace and Phelps. He retained as investment in Phoenix real estate only his lots in the Grand Avenue and University Additions.
Developers, 1920-1938: Subdivision of the F. Q. Story Addition began in 1920 with Plat A and Plat B, each consisting of forty acres. Only Plat A was opened for sale of lots, however. In spite of glowing descriptions of the beauty and desirability of the new subdivision and advertising that indicated contracts had already been let for eight new $10,000 residences for prominent men of the city, only one home was built in 1921—a residence at 709 West Portland. A damper to building may have been the Cave Creek flood of August 21, 1921. The Story area was one of the hardest hit by the muddy waters which also put two feet of water on the first floor of the state capitol. After Cave Creek Dam was built in 1923, one house was built on West Roosevelt in Plat A, and thirteen in Plat B which had opened in 1922 or 1923—five residences on Culver, five on Willetta, and three on Latham, all between Seventh and Ninth Avenues. When Plat A opened, it was advertised that a ten-acre park would be available, "a...magnificent park where little children are actively engaged in their various amusements amid nature's wholesome surroundings..." The park never materialized. The only land that was specifically set aside for a park was on Roosevelt between Thirteenth and Fifteenth Avenues. Lots 19-24 of Block 18 in Plat C West (platted in 1926 and opened for public sale in 1927) were given to the city by Jordan, Grace and Phelps, but never developed. In the post-historic period, the city sold the land for individual homes and for apartment buildings.
The original Story Addition (Plat A) was reopened in January of 1924 by the Dwight B. Heard Investment Company, a Phoenix firm who had a good track record with residential development. The newly-formed partnership of Lane-Smith opened Plat B also called "North Story," and by 1926, a total of one hundred thirteen homes had been built on the streets from Roosevelt to McDowell between Seventh and Ninth Avenues. Both sections had color and race restrictions and a $5000 minimum building requirement. They also had gas and electrical service, graded streets with Culver in the process of being paved, and some sidewalks already in and others underway. Children in the Story Addition were close to Kenilworth School which had opened in 1920; and in 1926, another primary school was built on McDowell at Seventeenth Avenue—Franklin School. Two streetcar lines serviced the area, the Grand Avenue Line and the Kenilworth Line.
The last development phases in the Story Addition began in 1927 when "New Story," (Plat C, Plat C West, and Plat D) was opened. This tract was eighty acres from Eleventh Avenue to Fifteenth Avenue between McDowell Road all the way to Roosevelt. Building restrictions were slightly lower here, $3000 to $4000, and duplex construction was permitted in certain sections. In July 1927, the developers, Lane-Smith Investment Company, encouraged sales by having A. F. Wasielewski Construction Company construct a model home" at 1106 West Lynwood. By September, forty more homes had been built. At the same time, the remaining westerly portion of F. Q. Story's land, the last forty acres, was opened as "West Story" (Plat E). It was also known as Franklin Addition, named for the new nearby primary school. The developers were Cowley, Higgens and Delph Company. This land was from Culver to McDowell between Fifteenth and Seventeenth Avenues. Modest building restrictions, $2500 and $2200, (the latter figure being for homes built from one block east of Seventeenth Avenue on to the west) allowed working families to build in the area. The first two Story plats were annexed to the City of Phoenix in 1920, immediately after they were platted. "New Story" was annexed in 1926 making Fifteenth Avenue the city limit to the west in that area. The last plat or "West Story" was annexed in 1928. It was predicted that "there would be 500 homes in another 2 years ... between 15th and 19th [Avenues]."
Story Addition, in its several phases, had a great deal of good publicity. One article that appeared in a local newspaper in 1928 when the last sections were being pushed by the developers is worthy of noting:
[Story Addition is] located at an altitude sufficiently great to lift it above its immediate surroundings, ... one gains a view in every direction. From the White Tanks in the west a circle of beauty is open to the home owner in Story Addition. To the northwest lie the Bradshaws, grim, colorful mountains of thousands of legends since early pioneer days. To the north and northeast lie the Phoenix mountains with the spire of Squaw Peak and the humps of Camelback standing out as landmarks. To the east lies Superstitions, rugged and ragged where cloud shadows and crevices lend tone and color to the rocky outline of the mountain citadel. To the south the dune sand Salt River range rolls like a hogback toward the west there to intersect the changing hues and outlines of the saw-tipped Sierra Estrella peaks.
From early sunrise when dawn breaks over the saddle of Four Peaks until late evening when its changing course paints with super-artistic tones the steep inclines of the western ranges, everyone in Story addition has beautiful views, everyone has an outlook on life that makes it seem more than worth while to live where Arizona's every mood is reflected in everyone's everyday existence.
The developers of Story Addition in the latter period (1927-28) planned for commercial activities in the neighborhood. The neighborhood became "one of the first residential properties laid out by men with the vision to see the potentialities of poor parking facilities and the increasing popularity of the automobile." Certain selected corners of the neighborhood were reserved from some residential restrictions "to enable the development of the property to be adequately cared for by sufficient business houses necessary to it." They still carried building, setback, and racial restrictions, however. Commercial buildings were built in eight small sections located mostly on corner lots on McDowell, Roosevelt, or Grand Avenue, the chief traffic streets. The idea advanced was that "within a few years a homeowner in the addition [would] be able to purchase almost any necessity by walking a few blocks to the nearest Story business firm for his purchases." The only business house constructed at that time which remains intact in the neighborhood today is the Pay'n Takit Market at Seventh Avenue and Roosevelt. This small grocery store, the twenty-third store opened up by the Pay'n Takit Grocery Company, a Phoenix chain founded in 1917, promoted the innovative concept of self-service or "cash and carry." The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Story, in its historic period, was a typical middle class neighborhood. The earliest residents, on the east side with the higher building restrictions were mainly of white collar status, professional people such as physicians, lawyers, presidents and owners of small to medium-sized companies. All three partners in the realty company of Cowley, Higgins and Delph lived in "West Story." On both the east and west sides, there were government personnel (city, county, state, and federal) as well as salespeople of all kinds. In the later western sections, there were many homeowners who worked in the trades. For example, a number of O'Malley Lumber Company employees lived in the "West Story" Addition near Grand Avenue where O'Malley's was located. A number of contractors who built in the area also lived there.
There were persons in the neighborhood who were well-known locally and regionally, either at the time they lived in there, or later. Some of these included James Hayden Kerby, Secretary of State for several years in the 1920s (754 West Moreland Street), George F. Price, LDS bishop and life insurance executive (715 West Willetta Street), and George F. Miller, Field Executive with the Boy Scouts of America (1322 West Culver Street). Others who were, or became, prominent citizens were Lewis Coggins and Reed Shupe, mayors of Phoenix, A. L. Moore, Frank Beer, Frank Snell, Irving Jennings, and Sam McElhaney. Some families, of course, left the neighborhood as their socio-econoinic status increased. Often the move was to the Encanto and Palmcroft districts.
Residential Architecture in Story Neighborhood 1920-1938
As a diverse middle-class neighborhood, the houses of the F. Q. Story Historic District reflect the alternating popularity of modern and period styles which typify the Eclectic movement in twentieth century American residential design. The Eclectic movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries drew upon a broad range of architectural tradition—Ancient Classical, Medieval, Renaissance, or Modern—for stylistic inspiration. In the 1890s, the Eclectic movement, inspired in part by the Chicago Columbian Exposition, stressed relatively pure copies of the traditions as originally built in various European countries and their New World colonies. This early emphasis on historic prototypes was interrupted and almost overwhelmed by the first wave of architectural modernism, which, under the leadership of the Prairie School and Craftsman movement, came to rule American house design during the first two decades of this century.
The Craftsman Movement was subsequently supplanted by a return to period styles as a result of renewed public interest in historical precedents as revived by architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue's Spanish Colonial buildings at the 1915 Panama-California Exposition and by the introduction of American servicemen in World War I to English and French vernacular architecture.
The economic Depression of the 1930s also wielded its influence on residential design by swinging the pendulum of popular taste once again toward the modern style—a shift which would continue at full tilt following the interruption of residential construction during World War II. The grim economic realities of the time caused architects to reexamine the homeowners' needs and resources.
In response to the national social and economic situation there developed two modern "compromise" styles—Minimal Traditional and the Ranch styles— which reflect the traditional period houses, yet lack their decorative detailing.
In the F. Q. Story Neighborhood, the evolution of America's changing taste in residential architecture during the early twentieth century is recorded by the many different Eclectic houses engaging in a friendly competition wherein is seen sharp contrasts among the early "modern" styles, the "period" styles, and the late "compromise" styles.
The extreme western edge of the district is the most modest architecturally, but this modesty correlates directly with the later development of the area east of Story. These houses were generally constructed after 1932 and were the lower priced lots in the Story Addition.
Chronology of Development
In general terms, the growth of the neighborhood spread as a wave from the east to west from 1920 to 1930, at which time development continued as infill throughout the entire addition. By the end of its period of historic significance in 1938, approximately 75% of the F. Q. Story Addition had been developed. House construction was intense in Plats A and B, opened in 1920, through the remaining three plats, opened in 1926 and 1927. Growth on the major arterial streets of McDowell and Roosevelt virtually remained static from 1930 through 1938, having reached approximately 66% coverage. It appears that corner lots were later to develop, probably because of the premium prices demanded by the real estate companies. In some cases, groups of contiguous lots held by land speculators were late in development because of the interruption of real estate sales by the Depression.
Distribution of Styles
The distribution of the various architectural styles throughout the F. Q. Story Addition appears to be influenced by two major factors: the year each plat was opened, and the current popularity of a style at that time. Bungalows are concentrated in the early, easternmost plats with single examples scattered as infill in the four later plats. Spanish Colonial Revival houses are spread evenly throughout the entire addition with notable concentrations in Plat D, opened in 1926. Tudor Revival houses seem to gravitate to the center of the addition and also to cluster together more than other styles. Great concentrations of Tudor Revival houses are found in the east half of Plat B and, to a lesser degree, in Plats C, C West, and D. The late-comer Ranch Style houses are found most densely grouped in Plat E and scattered through the center of the addition as single lot infill, or in groups of about six where land was held by speculators until economic recovery began in 1936, This development coincides with the introduction of the Ranch house to the nation's home buyers.
A minor factor influencing the distribution of styles is the minimum building requirements imposed by deed restriction upon the homebuilders. The value of the houses decreased from the eastern plats, $5000 minimum, to the western plats, $2200 minimum. Examples of each style can be found from one end of the addition to the other. However, as one travels through the neighborhood towards the west, the purity of each style and the size of each house diminishes. Tudor Revival houses, of the four major styles probably costing the most per square foot, are virtually non-existent in Plat E, whereas Ranch houses, the least expensive style, abound there. Bungalows and Spanish Colonial Revival houses seem to be little affected by minimum building requirements, appearing somewhat evenly throughout the addition.
The period of initial development in the Story Neighborhood (1920-1936) coincides very nearly with its era of significance (1920-1938). The neighborhood began its growth at a slow rate until the Cave Creek Dam, completed in 1923, gave homebuyers the confidence to buy property in the floodway. From 1924 to 1928, growth was moderate and steady. Development accelerated greatly in about 1928 to reach its peak in 1930 (133 new houses) when the effects of the Depression hit Phoenix. The number of building starts plunged during the next two years and then gradually bottomed out in 1936 with only six new houses. Economic tensions eased by 1936 as the new government aid programs took effect, and development in the Story Addition took off again at the same high rate which had occurred in 1928. The scarcity of vacant land in the addition and nervousness about an impending war may have caused the slight downturn of development as the period of historic significance ended in 1938.
‡ Don W. Ryden, Architect, and Reba N. Wells, Historian, Don W. Ryden A.I.A., Architect, F. Q. Story Neighborhood Historic District, Maricopa County, AZ, nomination document, 1987, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
7th Avenue North • Culver Street West • Latham Street West • Lynwood Street West • McDowell Road West • Moreland Street West • Portland Street West • Roosevelt Street West • Willetta Street West