Cheery Lynn Historic District of Phoenix
Advertisement 1928: You will find the tract on the west side of Sixteenth Street one and one-quarter miles north of McDowell Road. Just three miles north of the post office, in walking distance from the golf links and Country Club. There are two model homes on the tract, awaiting your inspection – beautiful homes. There is an abundance of good water. The lots have 60-foot frontage and can be bought for easy terms. Watch to for the opening announcement! DRIVE OUT TO CHEERY LYNN TODAY!
And drive they did – in Studebakers, Packards and Nash’s. The year was 1928. Hoover won the White House, Earhart flew across the Atlantic, and Phoenix was in the midst of a building boom. The Cheery Lynn subdivision was one of the several new neighborhoods brought to the market. It’s call to buyers…Drive out TODAY…heralded a new phase in the physical expansion of the growing city.
With the granting of Statehood in 1912, the elements were now in place for an explosion of growth. The population of Phoenix doubled during each of the first three decades of the 20th century. In 1923, construction of the Cave Creek Dam stemmed persistent floods of water, spawning new construction along the city’s northwest side. The northward march continued, and growth and technology soon would couple to change the face of Phoenix.
From it’s origins in 1887, the Phoenix Street Railway Company was the main transportation system for the city. Early track lines radiated from the downtown north to the Phoenix Indian School and northwest to the State Fairgrounds. Subsequent lines paralleled Central Avenue north along Second and Fifth Avenues, providing transportation to the emerging “suburbs”.
The correlation of the streetcar lines and subdivisions was not a chance occurrence. The proximity of transportation was key to the promotion of residential developments. Eager to enhance their property values, real estate owners and investors financed the construction of extensions to the major lines. By the late 20’s, however the automobile was beginning to influence the location of new neighborhoods. The dependence on the streetcar was over.
On January 28th, 1928, a tract of land described as Lot 1 of Beverley Heights was subdivided under the name of Cheery Lynn. Bounded by 16th Street on the east and Earll Drive on the south, the project was three miles from downtown, somewhat isolated from “in-town” neighborhoods, and a dramatic departure from development patterns of the past. Ownership of automobiles was now widespread, and neighborhoods no longer need to be tied to rail lines. Services, amenities, and marketing now determined the success of residential development.
Cheery Lynn was promoted as ultra-modern, progressive and indicative of the decline of streetcars, heralded on the road to the new Arizona Biltmore. Subdivided by William Fosburg, the project contained 80 lots, Cheery Lynn represented the newest trend of packaging completed homes in a neighborhood stamped with a defined character and identity.
Fosburg and his designer/Superintendent of construction, Marion E. Carr, conceived Cheery Lynn and a neighborhood of “…English type homes…of the very latest designs.” Responding to architectural trends of the time, the houmes were of English Tudor and English Cottage styles. Compact, with rectangular and L-shaped plans, these styles are usually single story, brick homes that feature massive chimneys, half timbering and gabled roofs, which vary from the medium pitch of the English Cottage to the very steeply gabled English Tudor.
Fourteen Tudor Revival homes were constructed in Cheery Lynn in 1928. This early construction , when teamed with subsequent styles, has left Cheery Lynn with its most striking features – a dramatic interplay of the angles and pitches displayed by the roofs of competing architectural styles.
The rapid success of Cheery Lynn was a testament to Fosburg’s keen timing and marketing savvy. He successfully packaged financing, neighborhood amenities, and archeitectural design. The development capitalized on the popular Period Revival styles and captured the peak of Phoenix prosperity in the late 20’s.
In 1932, in response to the advance of the depression into Phoenix, Fosburg engineered a trade of his Cheery Lynn properties with a Peoria cotton ranch owner, H. M. Strough. A former builder in Los Angeles area, Strough appeared enthusiastic about the Phoenix housing market and put his talent as a builder to work in Cheery Lynn.
While the effects of the Great Depression were slow to arrive in Phoenix, like the rest of the country, the Valley eventually succumbed. Though his trade of the land was poorly timed, Strough remained undaunted and began to fashion his own success in Cheery Lynn through resourcefulness and ingenuity. Teaming with the O’Malley Building Materials Company, Strough worked his way through the depression, one house at a time. Sustained by advances of materials and money from O’Malley, Strough would construct a single home, while housing his family in the structure’s garage. After a few months, construction of another new house would commence. The Strough family would move its residence to each new structure as the cycle continued. Using proceeds from rentals and sales to repay O’Malley, Strough eventually would construct 23 homes within Cheery Lynn until his death in 1938.
Under Strough’s influence, Cheery Lynn blossomed with an abundance of parapets stucco, and red-clay tile. Trips to California kept Strough abreast of the latest trends in architectural styling. Monterey and other Spanish Revivals had eclipsed the English styles and Strough’s transplant of the Monterey look would provide Cheery Lynn with its most dominant style. Constructed primarily of block, a typical home featured low walls and wingwalls, some forming courtyards; vigas (wood beams); arches; and rooflines highlighted by red tiles.
As the Depression persisted, the federal government began to play a dominant role in the construction of homes throughout the country. Congress enacted the National Housing Act of 1934 to stimulate industry, provide employment, and improve both nationwide housing standards and conditions with respect to home mortgage financing.
Fueled by loan insurance programs of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), home construction took on new vitality. With the loans came regulation and standards that once again changed the look of construction. Lavish Period Revivals gave way to more muted forms. Diversity was replaced by uniformity and consistency. Floor plans were simplified, materials were standardized, and ornamentation reduced to a minimum. Period styles fradually evolved into the Transitional and Early Ranch styles, simple structures characterized by an L-shaped plan, low pitched gable or hip roof, and columned porch at the entry. While a small number of these homes were constructed in Cheery Lynn prior to World War II, the majority of homes were modest versions of the French Provincial Ranch Style, which became the quintessential style of the Post War West.Bearing witness to the past, Cheery Lynn today reflects and preserves the city’s development. Water, politics, technology, and ingenuity all combined to create this unique enclave of home at the northern edge of the city’s surging residential core. Historic designation of the district has focused added attention on the value of preserving such an asset and will ensure the future of Cheery Lynn.