Campus Vista Historic District of Phoenix
Campus Vista Historic District
Period of significance 1934 – 1956
The Campus Vista Historic District lies immediately north and east of the Phoenix College campus. The irregular district boundary encompasses six residential subdivisions and the remnant of a seventh, all platted between 1939 and 1948. Almost all of the homes in the district were built before 1957, with most built before 1950.
The opening of the new Phoenix College campus in 1939, at the corner of Thomas Road and 15th Avenue, created demand for housing nearby. Undeveloped farm land adjacent to the campus was soon bought up by developers of residential subdivisions.
On March 8, 1939, the first of the subdivisions, College Addition, was dedicated. Reflecting Federal Housing Authority (FHA) guidelines on subdivision development, College Addition included forty-one 8,000 square foot lots, a slightly curvilinear street layout, and fully paid improvements such as city water, gas, and electricity. The home sites were touted as being “just a stone’s throw away from the beautiful Encanto Park and close to the new junior college”.
With the subdivision plan and basic infrastructure in place, “homes with a future” were constructed in College Addition on both a speculative and a made to order basis. Reflecting one end of the local home-building spectrum, the operations were small scale, with two main individuals involved in the marketing and sale of lots and homes. In 1940, Elmer Schler, a general contractor, built two homes “on spec.” W.J. Murphy Realty Company also advertised two spec homes with FHA terms available. Their labors were enormously successful. The subdivision was completely built out within two years.
Other subdivisions soon followed, built and sold by a variety of mostly small-scale construction entrepreneurs. More than 70 different builders were involved in the construction of the 200 homes in the district, and most builders built only one house. Even the most prolific builders in the district operated on a relatively small scale, none building more than twenty houses. In addition to running their own speculative operations, these builders were also hired by would-be homeowners, real estate developers and even architects, to build homes for themselves, their clients or other potential buyers. Almost half the homes in the Campus Vista District were built before a buyer was found.
The wide variety of Ranch home styles in the district, and the discontinuous street pattern, reveal the influence of these independent participants. FHA financing, used extensively in the district, required a certain level of coordination in the public right-of-way, and helped homogenize the efforts of dozens of developers. Covenants, codes and restrictions tied to each subdivision set minimum standards for quality of construction, and helped ensure above average neighborhood that would attract middle-income residents. As intended, the neighborhood has been home to several students, teacher and administrators from Phoenix College over the years.
All information courtesy of the City of Phoenix Office of Historic Preservation.