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Historic Architecture

An important goal of the Oro Valley cultural resources inventory has been to gather basic information about the extent and nature of potentially historic architecture. Residential development in the Oro Valley area did not begin until after World War II, and the first subdivisions, though originally platted as early as the 1930s, did not see the construction of significant numbers of houses until the late 1950s.

Learn more about historic architecture in Oro Valley.

The Oro Valley area holds at least two important examples of residential architecture built before the war, and several of the earliest subdivisions in Oro Valley are now of an age to merit consideration as historic districts.

Countess of Suffolk Forest Lodge
In 1935, Margaret Howard, a wealthy American also known as the Countess of Suffolk because of her marriage to the Earl of Suffolk established a winter residence in Tucson. She hired noted Tucson architect Richard A. Morse to design a house for a property she had bought in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The result was the spacious and distinctive Forest Lodge, a pure example of the Modern style.

Joseph E. McAdams House
In 1940, noted Tucson architect Josias Joesler was hired by Joseph E. McAdams of Springfield, Ohio, to design a residence for a parcel McAdams owned just east of Oracle Road, near what is now its intersection with Tangerine Road. The McAdams residence is Contemporary Ranch in style and has a separate garage and guest house in the same style, also designed by Joesler. When the hill where the McAdams house stands was prepared for construction in 1940, the grading unexpectedly exposed a substantial Hohokam archaeological site, including pottery, grinding stones, a human burial, and other features, including possible pit houses.

Today the McAdams house is part of a 120-acre parcel known as Kelly Ranch, which borders Catalina State Park at the eastern limits of the town. The Kelly Ranch property, which also includes many archaeological sites, remains in private ownership, but many Oro Valley residents believe its acquisition by the town is still an important goal in preserving the ecology and heritage of the area between Oracle Road and Catalina State Park

Pre-1974 Subdivisions in the Town of Oro Valley
Following the guidelines of the National Register of Historic Places, the age threshold for historic resources is 50 years. Nineteen subdivisions in the Town of Oro Valley were platted before 1974, with the earliest plat filed in 1930. Seven neighborhoods were the focus of this survey.

Campo Bello
Campo Bello was one of the earliest subdivisions to be platted and developed in Oro Valley. The original plat was filed just after World War II by the owners, Toney and Mabel Hardy, for a 160-acre tract that was formerly part of a homestead patented by Wylie Rudasill in 1935. Campo Bello is notable for its distinctive radial street plan, which is similar to Beaux Arts–inspired street plans known elsewhere before the war, most notably at El Encanto Estates in Tucson.

Oro Valley Estates
The development of Oro Valley Estates is linked closely with the history of the Town of Oro Valley and was platted in 1959. Oro Valley Estates is an early example of a residential community planned around a professionally-designed golf course. Today, Oro Valley Estates has a total of 216 houses, just 32 of which (14.8 percent) were built before 1965; another 60 were built before 1974. Despite the low number of early houses, Oro Valley Estates has some potential as a historic neighborhood.

Shadow Mountain Estates
Shadow Mountain Estates was platted in 1959. It has a postwar curvilinear subdivision plan, which is also true of three other early subdivisions in the survey: Shadow Mountain Estates-East, Suffolk Hills, and Fairhaven Village. This type of plan became the approved standard of the Federal Housing Administration for sound neighborhood design after World War II.

Suffolk Hills
The Suffolk Hills subdivision takes its name from the Countess of Suffolk, whose distinctive Forest Lodge residence, built in 1937, now forms part of the Immaculate Heart Academy property, in the northeastern portion of the neighborhood. The Suffolk Hills subdivision was built in several phases based on plats from the years 1958–1960, and is a coherent whole. Suffolk Hills has 190 houses and is an excellent, visually-pleasing example of a postwar curvilinear subdivision plan.

Shadow Mountain Estates - East
An extension of the original Shadow Mountain Estates subdivision, Shadow Mountain Estates - East is located on the opposite side of Oracle Road. It also is postwar curvilinear in design. It currently has low potential as a historic district because only 14 percent of the houses were built before 1965. Because 35 of the 57 houses in the subdivision were built before 1974, the historic potential of the subdivision could be reconsidered at a later date.

Linda Vista Citrus Tracts No. 2
Linda Vista Citrus Tracts No. 2 was platted in 1937 by the owners, Lue W. G. and Frieda A. Skinner, the same couple who had platted Linda Vista Citrus Tracts in 1930. Lue Skinner had patented the land covered by these plats as two separate GLO claims in 1926 an d 1929. The smaller Linda Vista Citrus Tracts, located on the north side of Linda Vista Boulevard, was never fully developed and today holds just 14 houses, the earliest of which was built in 1971. Linda Vista Citrus Tracts No. 2 has 44 houses today, just five of which were built before 1965 and just seven before 1974.

Fairhaven Village
Platted in two parts in 1958 and 1960, Fairhaven Village is another minor example of a postwar curvilinear subdivision plan. Only three of the 26 houses in Fairhaven Village were built before 1965, though 22 were built before 1974. The design of the subdivision is intact but simple and undistinguished. Because of the small number of early houses and the average quality of the subdivision, Fairhaven Village has low potential as a historic district.