Silk Stocking Historic District Chandler AZ
From the beginning, it was clear that the Silk Stocking Historic District Chandler AZ would become Chandler’s premier residential area. In fact, in 1919 the Chandler Arizonan observed that
“Washington Street seems destined to become the leading residence street of Chandler.” The neighborhood was ideally located farthest away from the designated industrial area and closest to the golf course (initially located east of the railroad tracks) and the majestic Chandler High School campus, which opened in 1921. Click HERE to see the Map of Silk Stocking Historic District Chandler AZ. The deed restrictions, which were than anywhere else in the town, coupled with single-family residential zoning, further enhanced the desirability of the neighborhood. The area was dubbed “Silk Stocking Row” by a 1919 newspaper commentary which noted that the man who could afford to meet the $3,000 minimum building cost to construct his home there could also afford to buy his wife silk stockings. For better or worse, the name stuck. It became official in 2004 when the Silk Stocking Neighborhood Association registered with the City of Chandler.
Despite the lure of exclusivity, it took several years before the first residences began to appear in the Silk Stocking Historic District Chandler AZ neighborhood. It is possible that the lots were not immediately offered for sale, but it is more likely that the high degree of restriction made it difficult for potential buyers to purchase and build on them. Ironically, the three buildings that were likely the first in the neighborhood were not the upscale residences that had the town’s boosters had envisioned. One was a small dwelling at the rear of the lot at 254 North Colorado Street, presumably built by Robert W. & Gladys F. Merrell, who signed a purchase agreement with the Chandler Improvement Company in 1917. The lot had a minimum building cost of $1,500 at the time, so it is unclear whether the undersized “alley house” was built legally. The second building was the structure that originally housed the Chandler Improvement Company. This wood frame building was relocated to the southwest corner of Delaware and Erie streets (now 398 North Delaware Street) and converted to a residence. Likewise, the structure that served as the Chandler Improvement Company’s second office was moved to the west side of Colorado Street just north of Cleveland Street and was converted to a residence. It was occupied by Ernest J. Koch, who was vice president of the Bank of Chandler and secretary and manager of the Chandler Improvement Company. By 1919, 10 additional houses had been completed or were under construction. These Silk Stocking Historic District Chandler AZ properties were all on Washington Street, on the block between Colorado and Detroit streets.
10 Silk Stocking Historic District Chandler AZ homes included:
• Arthur E. Price & Louise C. Price House, 201 North Washington Street (now demolished)
• Henry L. Peterson & Cora A. Peterson House, 218 North Washington Street;
• Will H. Robinson & Grace P. Robinson House, 236 North Washington Street;
• Louis Henry & Velma Henry House, 245 North Washington Street;
• Samuel A. Meyer & Vera J. Meyer House, 255 North Washington Street;
• Hugh C. Gardner & Florence May Gardner House, 264 North Washington Street;
• Daniel M. Arnold & Emma C. Arnold House, 275 North Washington Street;
• Joseph D. Thorn, Jr. & Caroline G. Thorn House, 282 North Washington Street;
• George L. Gollands & Lillian R. Gollands House, 291 North Washington Street; and
• Clarence A. Baldwin & Emma H. Baldwin House, 100 East Chandler Boulevard (now demolished).
Wealthy Residents of Silk Stocking Historic District Chandler AZ
These houses were generally brick bungalows designed in the Craftsman Style with stuccoed exteriors. They ranged in price from $4,000 to $10,000, well above the average for a house in Chandler. Several of these houses were built on multiple lots, making them even more impressive. Their occupants were all relatively wealthy white collar professionals. Price was town attorney and vice president of the Chandler Improvement Company; Peterson was a rancher, real estate broker and vice president of the Chandler Chamber of Commerce; Robinson was a noted author and member of the State Board of Agriculture & Horticulture; and his wife, Grace, was manager of the San Marcos Hotel. Henry was a popular painter and interior designer who worked on many of the early buildings in Chandler; Meyer was editor of the Chandler Arizonan; and Gardner owned the Gardner & Harmer Pharmacy. Arnold was a bookkeeper for the Chandler Garage; Thorn was an owner of the Reliable Hardware Company; and Baldwin and Gollands were cashier and assistant cashier for the Bank of Chandler. The neighborhood was well represented in local government, as Price, Peterson and Gardner served on the town council and Arnold served as police judge. Price also served as town attorney and Peterson served on the school board and as truant officer. Although all of these houses were impressive in their own right, it was generally agreed that the most remarkable house belonged to Peterson. The home was a large, single-story bungalow with a prominent front porch, classical columns, and stucco-clad exterior walls. Designed by the Phoenix architectural firm of Lescher & Kibbey and built by Phoenix contractor W.H. Snell, the home cost $10,000 to construct. The grounds were done Henry Kunst, “expert landscape gardener” for the San Marcos Hotel. In separate articles, the Chandler Arizonan described the house as “easily the most handsome” and “most pretentious” residence in the town. The following year, three more houses were constructed. These included a new house at 300 North Washington Street for Samuel A. Meyer & Vera J. Meyer, who moved from their old home at 255 North Washington Street; a new house at 332 North Colorado Street for Najeeb Basha & Najeeby Basha; and a new house at 237 North Colorado Street for John “Jack” Johnson & Lutie Galt Johnson. The Bashas were Lebanese immigrants who had been in the dry goods business for years before coming to Chandler in 1920. They and their children would go on to establish the Bashas’ supermarket chain, which as of May 2010, consisted of over 165 stores serving every county in Arizona, as well as parts of California and New Mexico. The home they built in the Silk Stocking Historic District Chandler AZ cost $5,000 and occupied three lots. Mr. Johnson was a rancher who built his home of rusticated concrete block—one of the first residences in the townsite to make use of the material.
Between 1921 and 1925 an additional seven homes were constructed in Silk Stocking Historic District Chandler AZ
• Commodore Perry Rogers & Ella L. Rogers House, 318 North Colorado Street, built 1921;
• Robert M. Tyler & Charlotte Tyler House, 364 North Washington Street, built 1921;
• George A. Vance & Martha Vance House, 372 North Colorado Street, built 1922;
• Louis Henry House, 328 North Colorado Street, built ca. 1924;
• Henry A. Stewart & Marie Stewart House, 298 North Colorado Street, built 1925;
• Abe Lukin & Lucille Lukin House, 328 North Washington Street, built ca. 1925; and
• Orpha B. Barr House, 345 North Washington Street, built ca. 1925.
At least two of these residences, the Lukin and Barr houses, appear to have been built as rentals, as city directories indicate that their owners lived elsewhere in the town. While some of these owners were blue collar workers—Tyler was a carpenter and Stewart was a blacksmith—they were sufficiently wealthy to build a home that met the minimum cost requirements for the neighborhood. Vance was an owner of Vance Brothers Bakery and served as town marshal. Lukin was one of the first members of the town council and operated a grocery business.
Washington Street Model Home
Between 1926 and 1928, no new homes were built in the Silk Stocking Historic District Chandler AZ. However, in 1929, six new residences were constructed. These included the Felix Marion Brown House at 336 North Colorado Street; the Edward S. Goff & Grace M. Goff House at 308 North Washington Street; and the Fred V. Price & Loreen Ackley Price House at 355 North Washington Street. Brown was a retiree, while Goff owned his own automobile dealership, and Price was a teller for the Bank of Chandler and a member of the town council. In addition, Ralph Hults, manager of the city realty department of the Chandler Improvement Company, built two houses on speculation, at 381 North Washington Street and 355 North Colorado Street. Unlike the earlier homes, which were largely Craftsman bungalows, these were “modern Spanish bungalows,” designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival Style. The two homes, which were designed by architect Claude Norris, with George Bissell as supervising architect, were the first of 16 “inspirational homes” planned by the firm, in partnership with the Lincoln Mortgage Company. The Washington Street residence was used as a model home and was open to the public for a special six-day event during “Better Homes Week.” The event was widely advertised, and the Chandler Arizonan reported that 800 people saw the model during this time.
Future of Silk Stocking Historic District Chandler AZ
Although the Silk Stocking Historic District Chandler AZ is no longer as exclusive as it once was, it is making a major comeback due to the efforts of long-time residents and new owners who have taken an interest in historic preservation. Support from the City of Chandler Neighborhood Resources Division has been vital to the rehabilitation effort as well as the committed efforts of groups like Live Love and Newtown Commuity Development. With all that is happening in Downtown Chandler, the new development and push to make Downtown the vibrant destination of Chandler, the future of Silk Stocking Historic District Chandler AZ is looking extremely bright and we believe is going to once again be a very sought after neighborhood to live. In fact, a recent article in the Phoenix magazine projected Silk Stocking Historic District Chandler AZ to be one of the 10 Hottest Neighborhoods of 2020. While the future of Silk Stocking Historic District Chandler AZ is bright, its past will never be forgotten.
Check back with us in the next few months as we will be releasing some inside information on what is coming to Downtown Chandler and the Silk Stocking Historic District Chandler AZ