Heritage Square: Historic Phoenix site is a striking reminder of the city’s vibrant Victorian past.
Historic Phoenix site is a striking reminder of the city’s vibrant Victorian past.
By Julie Carlson
Heritage Square is the oldest remaining residential block in Phoenix. It consists of 10 fully restored Victorian buildings dating back to the 1800s. Owned by the city of Phoenix, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is managed by the Heritage Square Foundation, a 501 c-3 nonprofit organization dedicated to maintaining and preserving the stories and buildings of Heritage Square.
“Heritage Square is now the only place left in downtown Phoenix where you can enjoy a slice of the city at the turn-of-the-century,” says Heather D. Roberts, Director of Marketing & Development for Heritage Square. “It is a unique place for Phoenix’s visitors, because we have torn down many of the City’s older buildings to make way for new development.”
“For 37 years, we have operated the cultural site under an agreement with the city, ensuring that it is preserved, interpreted, and kept open for public tours,” explains Roberts. The foundation also receives a small amount of funding from grants and organizations like the Arizona Commission on the Arts.
The Rosson House, an 1895 Queen Anne Victorian restored in the 1970s, is considered Heritage Square’s ‘crowning jewel.’ It’s named after Dr. Roland Rosson and his wife, Flora. Through a guided 60-minute tour, visitors can explore the Rosson’s first and second floors while learning about the history of Arizona and Victorian America. Museum tours are available Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m., with the last tour starting at 3 p.m.
“The Rosson House is our signature, permanent exhibit, and features material culture that exemplify life in early Phoenix,” says Roberts. “We supplement that seasonally with two to three additional, smaller exhibits that broaden and diversify that story.”
Currently on display is Dressing Downtown featuring turn-of-the-century fashion such as gowns, tuxedos, and uniforms. On loan from Black Cat Vintage in Phoenix is a gown worn to the 1909 inauguration of President Taft. The exhibit runs through Oct. 29 and is included with admission to the museum.
“Visitors hear stories about the people who lived in the Rosson House, and the clothes bring those stories to life, making them more personal and tangible,” explains Roberts. Next year, beginning in the spring, the Rosson House will have an exhibit featuring turn-of-the-century dishes.
Other buildings at Heritage Square include the Museum Shop where you can purchase Victorian paper dolls, fashion plates, jewelry, fans, and parasols; the Duplex, home to the foundation and park offices; the Stevens Bungalow, home to Heritage Square’s Vintage Makerspace and DIY Workshop; and the Stevens-Haustgen Bungalow, which was restored in the 1980s.
Through May 27, 2018, visitors to Heritage Square can check out the Details exhibit at the Stevens-Haustgen Bungalow showcasing accessories that not only defined the era, but were vital ––necklaces to shoes, and hats to pocket watches. This exhibit is free to the public. Beginning in summer 2018, the Stevens-Haustgen Bungalow will have an exhibit dedicated to early Phoenix maps.
Located in the remaining four buildings you’ll find an eclectic mix of nationally recognized restaurants. At the Bouvier-Teeter House is Nobuo, owned by Japanese-American chef Nobuo Fukodo. The five-star restaurant offers dishes such as pork belly buns, a panko-fried soft-shell crab sandwich, chicken katsu, and steamed clams.
Head over to The Rose and the Crown in The Silva House for Scotch eggs, bangers and mash, Shepherd’s pie, or fish and chips. Or munch on pizza, focaccia sandwiches, and salads of the James Beard award-winning restaurant Pizzeria Bianco in the Baird Machine Shop, and then sip on a glass of wine at Bar Bianco in the Thomas House. Enjoy a cup of fresh brewed coffee in the Teeter Carriage House at The Royal Coffee House.
There’s so much to discover at Heritage Square, including their three annual events for the whole family. Celebrate! The Holidays from mid-November through the end of December and see Heritage Square decked out in traditional, cultural, and creative holiday decor.
“Many people––locals, new residents, and snowbirds alike––do not realize what a rich past Phoenix holds,” says Roberts. “They think of all of Arizona as the Wild West, with adobe and clapboard houses; with cowboys and Indians; with shootouts and lawlessness. So, many visitors to Heritage Square are surprised to see a house like the Rosson House because they just don’t realize that, although Arizona was still a territory at the turn-of-the-century, it doesn’t mean that Phoenix wasn’t a city that was equal to its contemporaries––with electricity, a water and sewer system, access to telephones, a railroad, shops, schools, and a local government.”
113 N. 6th St., Phoenix
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