The "City Beautiful" Movement and Other
rest of the country, Phoenix was "booming" in the
Twenties, its population soaring from a few thousand
at the turn-of-the-century to over 29,000 in 1920.
By this time, Phoenix had become the largest city
between El Paso and Los Angeles, and was transformed
from an agricultural area into a thriving retail,
professional and governmental center. Suburban areas
built during this period were inhabited by a
population newly made mobile by the automobile, the
desired mode of transportation for the average
American family by the mid-1920's. The
Palmcroft and Encanto
Subdivisions not only reflect this
trend toward suburbs planned for an automobile
oriented population, but they also incorporate a
number of design influences which distinguish
American communities developed between the two world
More than simply mass-planned subdivisions,
Palmcroft and Encanto
are illustrative of the City Beautiful or Garden
City designs, a fully realized comprehensive
approach to suburban planning which includes a
unification of architecture, community planning and
landscape design. This approach has its roots in the
19th century's picturesque, romantic suburbs. These
movements called for innovative street plans, street
landscaping, ornamental light fixtures and parks
integrated into the housing areas.
There had been earlier attempts to develop
attractive suburbs in Phoenix, but it was only when
the Dwight B. Heard Investment Company undertook the
planning and construction of Palmcroft that a
sophisticated garden suburb was successfully
realized. Encanto surpassed Palmcroft in its
ambitions, successfully integrating Encanto Park
into the neighborhood designed
B. Heard, a New Englander who had moved to Chicago
and then to Phoenix in the late 1890s, was a central
force in the development of Phoenix in the early
20th century. A publisher, developer, and political
activist, Heard was a friend of Theodore Roosevelt
and was instrumental in the creation of the
Roosevelt Dam. The Dwight B. Heard Investment
Company purchased 80 acres, north of McDowell
bounded by 7th and 15th Avenues on the east and
west, from the half-section estate of James W.
Dorris in 1926. This parcel was split into two equal
plats and the 40 acres east of 11th Avenue were
developed first. Heard's associate in the Palmcroft
development was William G. Hartranft, developer of
the Kenilworth subdivision, pioneer advocate of city
planning in Phoenix, and father of the city's park
system. Together with surveyor Harry E. Jones, they
devised a plan for a highly ordered scheme of
curving streets contained in I/ I 6-section grids. A
plat was filed on April 27, 1927 and by the end of
the summer, streets had been graded and the first
two model homes completed.
The brochure for the subdivision asked, "Why is
Palmcroft the ideal?" and answered with
descriptions of "contemplated palm bordered winding
drives," and its "quiet and clean" location 11 only
five minutes by auto from downtown." Sewer, gas,
water, sidewalks, ornamental lights and palm trees
were included with the price of a lot, which ran
from $850 to $2000. Deed restrictions ran from $5000
for houses built on North 11th Avenue and West Palm
Lane, to $6500 on all other streets except West
McDowell, which was zoned for apartments and
duplexes. Palmcroft proved to be an immediate
success and a year later Heard set out to repeat it.
A second Palmcroft, identical in planning and
building restrictions, was laid out west of the
original Palmcroft on the second parcel of 40 acres
between North 11th Avenue and North 15th Avenue. The
new Palmcroft formally opened early in 1929.
Three of the most significant homes in Palmcroft
should be noted for their influence over the
entire area. The one-story brick structure at 1609
Palmcroft Drive SE was the first model home in
Palmcroft. Built in 1927 on speculation by Heard and
Hartranft, the Arizona Republic said
"...considerable time and study has been spent on
the planning of the first two houses which will be
built by the Heard Company as it is its intention to
set a high standard for the homes to be erected in
the new subdivision."
The second model home, also built in 1927, at 1808
Palmcroft Drive NW was designed by Phoenix
architect H.H. Green. The thick walls, entry porch
and its arched window evoke the aura of Old Spain.
Its imagery proved persuasive, for most of the
houses subsequently built in the two Palmcrofts'
were designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival
Style. The oldest house in the second Palmcroft,
1615 Palmcroft Way SW, is a Spanish Colonial
Revival completed in 1928. It was built on
speculation by the Dwight B. Heard Investment
Company to promote sales in the second Palmcroft.
Encanto was the first major undertaking of
Phoenix businessmen Lloyd C. Lakin and George T.
Peter, who had sold their interest in the Arizona
Grocery Company and the Pay, N Takit grocery chain
to enter into real estate development. They
developed a plot plan, recorded on October 2, 1928,
with the same civil engineer, Harry E. Jones, who
had surveyed the Palmcroft subdivision.
Located north of Palm Lane, Encanto
developed simultaneously with the new Palmcroft.
By the time of the formal opening on January 27,
1929, all public utilities had been installed;
graded, and most curbs, gutters and sidewalks
installed along with a unique underground irrigation
system. Palms were planted along Palm Lane to match
those on the Palmcroft side of the street.
Subdivision originally was intended
to cover 80 acres bounded by 7th Avenue to 15th
Avenue, Palm Lane to Encanto Boulevard, only the
40 acres west of 7th Avenue were developed
initially. The Great Depression delayed the West
Encanto Circle, originally designed to be
identical to the East Circle. Except for a few
significant homes along Palm Lane west of 11th
Avenue and two on 11th Avenue, built in 1932-33,
these subdivisions experienced severe slow-downs in
development. Housing starts ground to a halt.
As in the rest of the country, the federal
government played a central role in reviving
Phoenix' economy. Programs of the Federal Housing
Administration (FHA) were first introduced to
Phoenix in October 1934.
same significant year, West Encanto was replatted
and a number of acres were sold to the City of
Phoenix for parkland-hence the designation West
Encanto Amended for the area north of Palm Lane
and west of 11th Avenue.
Many of the houses in the
were built in the
years following using FHA-insured loans. The
architectural style of Encanto's model homes was
distinctly 11 Southwestern," in contrast to the
Period Revival styles being built in Palmcroft. The
building restrictions of Encanto went far beyond
those of Palmcroft. The minimum cost restrictions
for residences ran from $10,000 to 12,000 and only
single-family dwellings were permitted throughout
the subdivision. Detailed instructions for building
lines were also enforced in order to maintain
consistent angled setbacks, which followed the line
of the streets. The house at 745 West Monte Vista is
notable because George T. Peter, one of the two
developers of Encanto, lived in this home, on site,
for several years. Built in 1928 as one of the model
homes, the unusual entry tower and its prominent
location distinguish this Monterey style dwelling.
At 1102 and 1106 West Palm Lane are the first two
homes constructed in that section of Encanto while
it was still part of the overall scheme to fill the
second Encanto Circle with houses.
The West Encanto Circle was originally
conceived to be the mirror image of Encanto Drive,
as Palmcroft Way is the mirror image of Palmcroft
Drive. The Great Depression hit Phoenix with full
force in 1932, the year these two homes were
completed, and all building stopped.
For the most part, the residents of
Palmcroft were well to-do rather than wealthy.
The very rich were still living in older mansions
closer to downtown, in established subdivisions like
Los Olivos, and on
"Millionaires Row" along Central Avenue.
Among the prominent Phoenicians living in
Encanto-Palmcroft were Nathan Diamond,
co-founder of Diamond's department store; O.D.
Miller, produce magnate, State Senator, and
gubernatorial candidate; Lynn M. Laney, Attorney and
Board of Regents member; and automobile dealers
Shadwell H. Bowyer and W. Claude Quebedeaux.
Inspired by Golden Gate Park in San Francisco
and Balboa Park in San Diego, Encanto Park
was modeled after the English Garden Parks, which
were fashionable during the Twenties and Thirties in
urban planning and landscape architecture. Winding
roads, serpentine lakes and picturesque tree groves
all contribute to the expression of a naturalistic
romantic park. Encanto Park utilizes these elements
in its lagoon system and plantings of exotic trees.
Land acquisition for the park began in 1934
following the creation of the Phoenix Parks and
Recreation Board in 1933.
Aided by a grant from the Works Progress
Administration (WPA), a total of 222 acres were
purchased from the adjacent Dorris and Norton
properties and Lakin & Peter Investments. The WPA
supervised the planning and construction of the
park, which proceeded over three years and was
completed in 1938. The overall design of the park is
probably attributable to William G. Hartranft, the
first Parks & Recreation Board President, but the
WPA very likely had a hand in it as well.
Another popular feature of Encanto Park was
"Kiddieland," an outgrowth of the children's play-
ground in the original park. Believed to be the
oldest carousel in Arizona, the carousel in
Kiddieland was moved to the park from California in
Significance of Encanto-Palmcroft
Encanto-Palmcroft Historic District is
significant for its excellent representation of an
early design philosophy, which successfully
integrated landscape and building. Architecturally,
the district is one of the most important because it
is an intact collection of the finest historic homes
in the city. Well appointed, designed by prominent
early architects, built of high quality materials
and distinguished by detailing and craftsmanship of
a bygone era, the harmonious mix of diverse
architectural styles in Encanto-Palmcroft create one
of the most distinctive neighborhoods in Phoenix.
houses in the
Historic District share a common
theme, tending toward the picturesque. Mass,
materials, texture and color were manipulated in a
conscious attempt to emulate the asymmetry and
sensuousness of nature. The result is both dramatic
and understated. Many of the houses here were
constructed in traditional styles. Others were
designed to invoke the romantic notions of past
architectural periods. A number of Phoenix based
architects contributed to the district.
Orville Bell and H.H. Green were among the most
prolific. Additionally, the prominent firm of
Lescher and Mahoney designed the original buildings
for Encanto Park. Regional expression was also in
vogue at this time. Not surprisingly, a wide range
of styles is found in the district.
The styles of particular note are those influenced
by southwestern traditions.
and Mediterranean are the most predominant,
although excellent examples of Pueblo Revival
and Monterey Revival styles can also be
found. Spanish Colonial Revival stylistic
elements include low-pitched roofs with little or no
overhang, red tile roofs prominent arches over doors
and windows and porches, and an asymmetrical facade
covered with stucco. A large, formal example of this
style is the Nathan Diamond
house, located at 2220 North 9th Avenue. Very
similar are the Mediterranean or Neo
Mediterranean homes, which usually have stucco
walls, round arched windows and doorways and tile
roofs. Pueblo style dwellings were normally built of
adobe or of brick stuccoed to resemble adobe. Like
the Native American building traditions from which
they are named, these homes featured flat roofs with
the characteristic timber vigas and rainspouts. The
vigas, protruding timber ends that originally were
part of the structural support of buildings of this
style, were often only ornamental by this period.
Low-pitched roofs with red tile also were used in
conjunction with this style as it developed. Two
fine examples of the Pueblo Revival Style in
the district are located at 2040 Encanto Drive
Southeast and 702 West Monte Vista Road. Monterey
Revival is essentially a fusion of
Colonial and American building styles, which
developed in Monterrey, California. A generally
symmetrical, two-story, rectangular building and
full projecting porches at the second story,
characterizes it. The Pafford house, located
at 1021 West Encanto Boulevard, is a good
example of this style.
Getting Around In
Getting "Lost" and Getting "Home"
To get a real feel for
Historic Phoenix, take a jaunt to the
Encanto-Palmcroft Historic District but know that
this jaunt comes at a price. Smaller houses and
fixer-uppers in Encanto-Palmcroft (if you can find
one) fetch about $275,000 on up, while more finished
out homes attract urban professionals who have no
problem spending $500,000 and up. This is one of the
priciest historic districts in
downtown Phoenix but
ther are SO many wonderful reasons why.
Let's Get a Little Lost for Fun
live 2 blocks away from
Encanto-Palmcroft. Not long ago, I took my dog
for a walk in the neighborhood as I adore strolling
in the winding streets of this exclusive district.
Well, to no joke, we DID get lost! From one Coronado
Street to one Palmcroft Street to another...round &
round we went. It was embarrasingly hysterical.
Let's just say both my dog & I got an excellent
workout in that evening. Neighbors know their way
around but they have no trouble spotting visitors
(like me that evening) who look a little tired at
the intersection of streets named
Palmcroft Way, Palmcroft Drive, Palmcroft SE,
Palmcroft SW, Palmcroft NE, Palmcroft NW.
Even though we were pretty tired, we never stopped
admiring the gorgeous Bungalows, Spanish Colonials
and Cape Cods as they just don't stop reeling you
in. The layout, not the norm for a
downtown Phoenix neighborhood, keeps traffic
away and creates much privacy in Encanto-Palmcroft.
These 1920's and 1930's
homes in this vicinity have mature trees and well
kept landscaping by proud neighbors. Combine this
with a curving line of 80-year-old Mexican Fan Palm
trees street side and you get some of the most
beautiful and spacious historic homes in all of
downtown Historic Phoenix!
Many of the estate like
homes here flaunt large living spaces, swimming
pools, guest houses and amenities not commonly found
in many of the other historic Phoenix districts.
From wine vaults, servant's quarters and second
stories, the homes are defintiley unique & artsy.
Many have large backyards and many do not. However,
Encanto-Palmcroft offers other amenities. The
neighborhood has its own security company, lingering
sidewalks layered with dog walkers and stroller
moms, Encanto Park which is one of the largest
public parks in Phoenix, a highly desirable &
admirable address, close & direct access to downtown
life, walking to shops, restaurants & night life and
a Hollywood type lifestyle right here in
If you ever want to "get
lost," mosey on over to
Encanto-Palmcroft with your dog. Just be sure
tobring lots of water.