F.Q. Story Historic District of Phoenix
F. Q. Story
Period of significance 1921 – 1938
In 1887, Francis Quarles Story, a Boston wool merchant whose ill health had taken him to California a decade before, purchased the acreage that is today the F. Q. Story Historic District. He had settled in Los Angeles County, studied the cultivation of citrus, planted orange groves and is credited with founding the national advertising campaign that made the Sunkist Orange famous. Active in many educational and conservation endeavors, F. Q. Story was a director and president of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and a tireless booster of commercial and industrial enterprises in California and Arizona. Story and other prominent California landowners expanded into the Salt River Valley of Arizona in the late 1880s, investing in land and promoting both agricultural and townsite developments. Although he never lived in Phoenix, Story was involved in numerous projects, such as the design and construction of the 100 foot wide Grand Avenue Thoroughfare in 1887 and the subsequent building of its streetcar line. Story was influential in the founding of the Grand Avenue and University Additions, but their development was disappointing. In spite of having announced in 1910 plans to subdivide the 200 acre parcel which would become the Story neighborhood, he sold the entire parcel to the Phoenix firm of Jordan, Grace and Phelps in 1919.
In 1920, when development of what is now the F. Q. Story Historic District began. Phoenix had a population of 29000, almost six times what it had been at the turn of the century. Grand Avenue had been built to link central Phoenix with the thriving agricultural communities of Glendale and Peoria.
Like the nearby Roosevelt neighborhood, Story was advertised as a street car suburb, being close to the Grand Avenue and Kenilworth carlines. As in other developments oriented to the Streetcar, Story was laid out with narrow, deep lots. The initial houses were clustered by the streetcar line at the eastern edge of the neighborhood. By the middle of the decade, as the automobile became more common, houses located further west began to incorporate detached garages and side yard Porte cocheres appeared. Their presence reflects the growing impact of the automobile on architecture and suburban life by the mid-1920’s.
When subdivision of the F.Q. Story Addition began, it was described in advertisements in the Arizona Republican in March 1920 as “The Real Estate Event of the Season!” and “The Place, The Thing, and the Time You’ve Been Waiting For”. Advertising boasted that the developers “expect to sell this entire tract within thirty days.” Despite the hype, only one house was built in all of 1921. This was due to the fact that the area lay directly in the floodway of Cave Creek, which in 1921 inundated the entire western end of the city and put two feet of muddy water on the first floor of the state capital, just a mile to the south. No lives were lost, but the property damages were severe and estimated to have exceeded the million dollar mark.
After Cave Creek Dam was completed in 1923, thirteen more homes were built, and in January of 1924, the original Story Addition was reopened by the Dwight B. Heard Investment Company. The newly formed partnership of Lane-Smith opened North Story, and by 1926, a total of 113 homes had been built on streets from Roosevelt and McDowell between 7th and 9th Avenues. Both sections had a requirement that building cost a minimum of $5000. The subdivision also had gas and electrical service. Kenilworth School had opened in 1920, and in 1926, Franklin School was built on McDowell at 17th Avenue.
The last development phase of the Story Addition began in 1927 when “New Story” opened, covering the eighty acres from 11th to 15th Avenues, between McDowell Road and Roosevelt Street. At $3000 to $4000, building restrictions were slightly lower here and duplexes were permitted in certain sections.
In July 1927, the developers Lane-Smith encouraged sales by having A.F. Wasielewski Construction Company construct a “model home” at 1106 W. Lynwood, a novel idea for the period. At the same time, the remaining westerly portion of F.Q. Story’s land was opened as “West Story” by developers Cowley, Higgins and Delph Company. It was known as Franklin Addition, named for the new primary school nearby. Building restrictions were more modest still, just $2500 and $2200 which allowed working families to build in the area.
Development hit its peak in 1930 with the construction of 133 new houses, only to falter as the effects of the Great Depression hit Phoenix. Construction declined, but by 1938, approximately 75% of the F.Q. Story Addition had been developed.
The F.Q. Story neighborhood was initiated 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. In its historic period, it was a typical middle class neighborhood.
In the eastern sections with higher building restrictions, the earliest Story residents were mainly of white collar status – professional people such as physicians, lawyers, presidents and owners of small to medium-sized companies. On the west side were government personnel, sales people of all kinds, and a number of contractors who built in the area. All three partners in the realty company of Cowley, Higgins and Delph lived in “West Story”, as did several O’Malley Lumber Company employees.
The people who were first drawn to the neighborhood were considered one of it’s primary attractions. At one point during its development, the Price & Price Investment Company ran an advertisement listing the names and occupations of nearly all Story Addition property owners in an attempt to encourage sales. Homes were fairly small and even at their most lavish, relatively inexpensive in comparison with some of the other emerging Phoenix neighborhoods.
The developers of the Story Addition in the 1927-28 period also planned for the commercial activities in the neighborhood. Commercial buildings were constructed in eight locations. Characteristic of commercial development of the period, these buildings were located on corner lots of McDowell, Roosevelt and Grand Avenue, the chief thoroughfares.
The only building constructed during this time which remains intact in the neighborhood is the Pay‘n Takit Market at 7th Avenue and Roosevelt. This small grocery was the twenty-third store opened by the Pay’n Takit Grocery Company. A Phoenix chain, founded in 1917, they promoted the innovative concept of self service or “cash and carry”. The importance of this early commercial building to the neighborhood is recognized with its individual listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
Much of the architectural significance of the F.Q. Story Historic District relates to its representation of the increasing popularity of the Period Revival Styles that were typical of the early 20th century American residential design. The bungalow style prevailed in the eastern sections developed in the early 1920’s. Period Revival houses – those which use the form and ornamentation of earlier architectural styles – prevailed in the mid-1920’s. Spanish Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival were the most popular, but examples of other Revival Styles, such as English and Norman Cottage, Mediterranean, Pueblo, Mission and Neoclassical are common. Art Moderne Ranch Style and Prairie houses were also scattered through the area.
Spanish Colonial Revival houses take their characteristics from the Southwestern architectural tradition. Identifying features include flat or low-pitched roofs with little or no overhang, red tile roof shingles, prominent arches over doors, windows and porches, and an asymmetrical stuccoed façade.
In contrast, Tudor Revival homes draw from the medieval architecture of Europe. These dwellings feature steeply pitched gabled roofs, and are often ornamented with half-timbering. They also are identifiable by their picturesque massing, multiple pane window groupings and massive brick chimneys.
Today, as in the past, the F.Q. Story Historic District is a thriving neighborhood characterized by diversity. Historically, it remains an important expression of the people and the building practices that established Phoenix as a progressive twentieth century city. The form of the neighborhood, the placement and arrangement of the buildings and its distinctive landscaping all contribute to a character that reflects the economies, technologies and popular tastes of a bygone era. Story is architecturally important because it displays a wide range of historic styles form the 1920’s and 1930’s that illustrate the changing architectural trends of the period.
Information and history provided by the City of Phoenix Historic Preservation office.