Tempe Directory of Historic Buildings 

Tempe has more than 200 historic buildings. Enjoy this searchable directory of information and photos.  For more information on any of these properties or to learn how your property can be listed, please contact Tempe Historic Preservation Officer John_Southard@tempe.gov 

Many of the properties on the Tempe Historic Register, the National Register of Historic Places or the list of historic eligible properties are privately owned and not open to the public. Please respect the privacy of those who may be living in these houses. 

Historic Eligible is a formal classification of parcels which contain buildings, structures, or sites which meet the criteria for designation as a Tempe Historic Property, but which have not been formally designated as "Historic." 

How to Use This Directory

You may search this directory by the categories of Tempe Historic Register, National Historic Register and Historic Eligible Properties. Simply click the down arrow on the All Categories box below and select the one you would like to see. All the properties in that category will appear.  

Gonzales-Martinez House (1880)

National Register Status: Listed (1984)

SUMMARY

This building is significant for its association with the initial settlement of the Hayden's Ferry townsite along the south bank of the Salt River. Built in 1880 by Ramon Gonzales, the house is one of only three remaining structures associated with the first ten years of Tempe's history. The building is a rare local example of a house type illustrative of the lifestyle and settlement pattern of the predominantly Mexican population of early Tempe.

HISTORIC EVENTS

Originally an employee of Charles Trumbull Hayden at his adjacent Salt River ferry, Ramon Gonzales likely built the house at its location due simply to its proximity to his place of work; many others did the same, Hayden being the largest employer in the area at that time. The fact that Gonzales and other Hispanic employees essentially “squatted” on the land without clear title has led to lawsuits with the State of Arizona in recent years, one of which has directly impacted the subject property and has resulted in a shift in ownership from the Sussex family to both state and local government entities.

PERSONS

Ramon Gonzales was a freighter in Southern Arizona until he relocated to Tempe in about 1877 and was employed by Charles T. Hayden. Jesus Martinez acquired the property in 1892. Martinez was the great-grandfather of Steven Sussex, whose family lived on the property for over 100 years. Carl Hayden, the State’s first Congressional Representative and one of the longest-serving U.S. Congressmen in history, raised hogs on the property with Sussex’s uncle, who arrived in Tempe in 1912 and worked in the construction of the 1912 bridge that spanned the banks of the Salt River. During the Great Depression, the Sussex family allowed homeless travelers on the adjacent railroad to stay in shacks on the property (one of which still remains).

ARCHITECTURE

Constructed of adobe, the house represents the earliest form of traditional Southwestern architecture, harkening back to the days of Spanish colonization of Arizona and New Mexico. The Gonzales-Martinez House is one of only two such adobe structures (the other being the Charles T. Hayden House/Monti’s La Casa Vieja) that remain in the City of Tempe. Furthermore, this is the only Hispanic-built and Hispanic-owned adobe home remaining in a town that at one time—in the late 1800s—had entire neighborhoods (or “barrios”) built of similar small adobe homes. Thus, this property might be seen as the last remaining architectural vestige of Tempe’s working-class Mexican roots. 

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