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UNIVERSITY PARK NATIONAL REGISTER DISTRICT

location :: Bounded on the north by 13th Street, Apache Boulevard and the 14th Street alley, on the east by McAllister Avenue, on the south by the Union Pacific Railroad, and on the west by Mill Avenue.

plat filed :: 1945

development period :: 1945-1960

acreage :: about 80

lots :: 159

representative styles ::

MODERN MOVEMENT Ranch Style

MODERN MOVEMENT/International Style

LATE 19TH AND 20TH CENTURY REVIVALS/Spanish Colonial; Pueblo

predominant materials ::

FOUNDATION CONCRETE (slab or grade beam)

WALLS BRICK; CONCRETE (including “pumice block”); WOOD (siding and trim); STONE/Sandstone, Limestone

ROOF ASPHALT; TERRA COTTA (barrel tiles, interlocking tiles); ASBESTOS; SYNTHETICS/Fiberglass; WOOD; METAL/Steel

OTHER METAL/Steel, WOOD, GLASS (windows); METAL/Aluminum (awnings); METAL/Steel (carports and arbors)


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The University Park Addition in Tempe, Arizona, is an 80-acre 1940s and 1950s suburban neighborhood immediately south of the Arizona State University campus in Tempe, and a short distance southeast of downtown Tempe. The historic boundaries encompass 159 properties, 70 per cent classified as “contributing” to the district (Figure 2). The majority of properties are single-family residences, some featuring detached guesthouses (many are converted garages), diversified by a few duplexes, three religious facilities, and the George Ditch irrigation canal dividing Parkway Boulevard. Most residential buildings are grouped on standard 75-foot-wide and 105-foot-wide lots (Figures 3-5) between Mill Avenue on the west and McAllister Avenue on the east, facing 13th (Apache Boulevard), 14th and 15th Streets, plus Parkway Boulevard, Forest and Normal Avenues, Grandview Drive, Oakley Place, and College Avenue.

The 1945 neighborhood plat followed a typical Salt River Valley community pattern of subdividing former irrigated agricultural land, itself rectilinear in shape due to initial 19th century surveys of the region based on township-range-section measurements following cardinal lines with squared corners. With University Park the developers encountered a pattern of physical limitations that resulted in a distinct visual character for the neighborhood: Apache Boulevard (then U.S. Highway 60), for 60 years the southern limit of the Arizona State College campus, generally formed the subdivision’s north boundary; Mill Avenue, the “main street” of Tempe running south from downtown, confirmed the west boundary; the Southern Pacific Railroad, built in 1925, set the south limit of the subdivision; and McAllister Avenue, the extent of the developer E.W. Hudson's previous cotton farm, established the east boundary. Within this rectangle George Ditch divided the plat into two unequal tracts north and south, so that 13th and 14th Streets—north of George Ditch—could accommodate a common alley, but 15th Street—south of George Ditch—fronted lots without alleys except for Parkway Boulevard's role as a partial alley. Likewise College Avenue, extending south as an axis from the college campus, divided the plat into two unequal tracts west and east, somewhat remedied by inserting Grandview and Oakley west of College between 15th and Parkway (George Ditch). And because of these factors most lots on the south blockface of 15th Street are exceptionally deep.

A variety of lot depths and orientation, and the irrigation ditch transecting the subdivision, joined an evident obsession by initial homeowners to introduce vegetation to their new neighborhood. Today this widespread mature vegetation creates an urban landscape that makes University Park quite distinct among Tempe’s—and the valley’s—post-World War II subdivisions. Many flood-irrigated lawns are clipped neatly inside low perimeter berms to contain Salt River Project water within property lines; an understory of juniper, crape myrtle, orange and grapefruit further defines yards and softens hard lines along house foundations; mature trees of enormous heights range from palms, pines and pecans to mulberry, ash and sycamore. Where arid-climate varieties are planted—cactus, mesquite, olive, palo verde, palo brea, and sumac—most have grown to specimen-size through flood irrigation and rich primordial desert soil.
The University Park neighborhood is a historic district eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, exhibiting strong integrity in the aspects of location, setting and association. The district’s contributing buildings generally exhibit high levels of integrity in the aspects of design, materials and workmanship, although the dynamics of an urban neighborhood near a large university and a booming city have partially eroded these historic elements of evaluation. The integrity aspect of feeling, sometimes applied to the interiors of historic buildings, is difficult to judge in that application since the majority of University Park properties are private residences and are thus inaccessible for survey and evaluation. However, when feeling is applied to the concept of a district’s historic character—in that its surviving design, materials, workmanship and setting combine as a distinct landscape for the observer (Lee 1997)—then University Park retains high levels of this integrity aspect as well.

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RESOURCES 
National Register of Historic Places Nomination :: September 20, 2007 (Mark Pry)

Tempe Historic Property Inventory Forms :: September 20, 2007 (Mark Pry)

Last updated: 12/13/2012 10:35:57 AM