By David M. Brown
Pat Simone loved Arizona history, so he willed a Paradise Valley home and land to the state’s oldest institution, the Arizona Historical Society (AHS). As part of his end-of-life planning –– the Valley businessman died two years ago –– he instructed his foundation to donate the 2.095-acre property to support the AHS mission of promoting, showcasing and researching state history.
The home site, 6402 East Cheney Drive, at Invergordon Road, is in 85253, one of the country’s top zipcodes for home values and per-capita income. In a comparatively secluded area of the 16-square-mile town between Phoenix and Scottsdale, the home and land have unobstructed views of landmark Mummy Mountain.
“We are grateful for Pat Simone’s generous donation,” says Tawn Downs, vice president of marketing and communications for AHS. “By including us in his end-of-life plans, Mr. Simone has left a lasting legacy. Gifts like this help ensure that we can continue our important work to preserve Arizona’s rich history, keeping it robust and relevant for future generations.”
Frank Aazami, founder and principal of The Private Client Group, Russ Lyon, Sotheby International Realty in Scottsdale, says: “This outstanding property in Paradise Valley, the standard-bearer of luxury living in Arizona, offers a great opportunity for a buyer to create a superb estate while also helping the Arizona Historical Society continue its century and a half and more of service to our state.”
AHS: A Long History of Historical Conservation
The AHS was established November 7, 1864, by the First Territorial Legislature, a year and a half after President Abraham Lincoln created the New Mexico-Arizona Territory. Since the establishment of the first AHS museum in Tucson, the organization has grown to include museums and historical properties across the state.
Today, AHS operates seven museums and owns three other historic properties. The two largest are the Arizona Heritage Center on College Avenue in Tempe and The Arizona History Museum in a historic Josias Joesler-designed building near the University of Arizona campus. Both locations feature extensive research libraries and archives.
Also in Tucson is the Downtown History Museum, in the historic Wells Fargo Building, and the Fort Lowell Museum, which includes a public park with Hohokam Native American sites, a historic neighborhood, picnic facilities and playground.
North in Flagstaff, AHS owns and manages The Arizona Historical Society Pioneer Museum, the former 1908 Coconino County Hospital for the Indigent. In addition, AHS operates the 13,000-square-foot Riordan Mansion, an American Arts and Crafts-style masterpiece built in 1904 for two brothers and their families who helped build the area’s lumber industry and the town.
In downtown Yuma, visitors can see the 19th-century century Sanguinetti House Museum and Gardens, the original home of merchant E. F. Sanguinetti (1867–1945). This historic adobe home, known as the “Jewel of Historic Yuma”, is near the banks of Colorado River.
Other historic properties overseen by AHS are the 1870s’ Sosa-Carrillo House in Tucson, a preserved example of Sonoran and Territorial architecture in the Barrio Libre neighborhood, and the Charles O. Brown House, an adobe from the early 1840s, probably the Old Pueblo’s earliest building.
At the Mexican border, The Douglas-Williams House was built and occupied by mine owner James S. (“Rawhide Jimmy”) Douglas and later owned by banker and rancher and mayor Ben F. Williams, Sr.; and, along the Mogollon Rim, the one-room Strawberry School House, 1885, is believed to be the state’s oldest standing example.
AHS offers much more beyond the buildings made of mortar, brick, stick and adobe. The 501 (c)(3) nonprofit variously fulfills its mission of connecting people through Arizona’s history: with scholarships, collections, workshops, exhibitions, seminars and lectures. Collaborations with museums, educational institutions and historical organizations ensures AHS remains relevant to communities all around the state.
“The Arizona Historical Society is the caretaker and steward of Arizona history,” says Downs. “We connect people of our communities to our shared history in order to create a better future.” The AHS logo, in fact, is the alchemist symbol for copper, one of the original five Cs signature to Arizona, including climate, cattle, cotton and citrus.
The AHS collections, actual and digital, help to illuminate contemporary issues, including water availability, immigration, free trade, mining, ranching and agribusiness, the defense industry, cultural diversity, urban development and revitalization, and now the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For instance, many people did not know about the 1918 flu epidemic, which affected Arizona, the country and the world,” says Downs. “Knowing what happened during that historic outbreak can provide lessons for the current pandemic We are always exploring new ways of talking about history and looking at current events through the lens of history.”
Through grants and other tools, the AHS helps individual Arizona communities preserve and share their unique culture, folkways and history. “Even when we move the same exhibits to a different location in the state, we like to tell the story a little different in each community, engaging them directly to tell their regional stories,” she explains.
AHS supports youth education through its signature program, National History Day in Arizona, which takes place annually from September through June, culminating with the national competition in Maryland. “The program helps to promote history, as well as teach research, organization and presentation skills to middle and high school students, she says, noting that this year all student competitions were virtual.
With museums closed, AHS has adapted to the quarantine by pivoting to digital programming. In addition to providing educational and engaging content for families and children through the website-based Digital Hub, AHS continues to develop new digital programming and content, including digital puzzles, video tours, behind-the-scenes peeks at collections and virtual panel discussions for people of all ages.
The Panache of PV
“PV has Arizona’s highest valued homes, sought after by buyers of discrimination from around the world,” says Joe Morales, Realtor® and the Private Client Group co-listing agent with Aazami for the property. “And, we are fortunate that, even with the pandemic, people are still seeking distinctive homes in our area.”
PV’s 14,215 residents (2019 U.S. Census Bureau [CB]) are near ten resorts, including the soon-to-be-completed $2-billion Palmeraie® world-class community, featuring a Ritz-Carlton hotel/spa, boutique shops and luxury homes and townhomes. Also close by are 800-plus restaurants, shops, galleries, casinos, museums, public and private schools, cultural venues, 51 golf courses and major hospitals and medical centers.
A few minutes from the Cheney Road property are the stores, restaurants and cultural venues of Old Town Scottsdale, the Waterfront District and Scottsdale Fashion Square, the Southwest’s largest mall. Also downtown are the Scottsdale City Mall including the Bennie Gonzales-designed Scottsdale Center for the Arts and Central Library and the Will Bruder-designed Scottsdale Contemporary Art Museum. And, just a few minutes away is the Scottsdale Museum of the West.
A few minutes’ drive north are the Kierland and Scottsdale Quarter mixed-use centers and the Scottsdale Airport, the Phoenix area’s second-highest employment center. And, a few minutes east are Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, hosting MLB spring-training, Top Golf, OdySea and other attractions.
For recreational opportunities, the home is also a short drive from the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in north Scottsdale, and trails to and up Camelback Mountain, Mummy Mountain and the Phoenix Mountain Preserve are easily accessible from the home by foot or cycle.
Finally, Sky Harbor International Airport is 20 minutes away, and I-10 and I-17 are quick connections to Tucson, Flagstaff, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and beyond.
Aazami says: “A great mountainview property in a world-famous town in lifestyle-centered Arizona: Please consider this fantastic opportunity for your Arizona home and to benefit one of state’s most important cultural organizations.”
Many Ways to Assist
Because COVID-19 has temporarily closed the AHS facilities, many of the nonprofit’s traditional revenue sources, such as admission fees, school tours, in-person lectures and workshops, as well as meeting and event rentals, have been temporarily halted.
At the same time, the digital assets now offered are free. “As a result, we are looking to replace that lost revenue with new services and expanding existing ones,” says Downs. “There are so many different ways to keep us going strong and serving Arizona.”
If you are not a buyer for the PV property, you can support the preservation of Arizona history by becoming a member, making a donation or adding AHS to a bequest. Connect to AHS through the website, arizonahistoricalsociety.org, Tawn Downs, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Facebook, facebook.com/arizonahistoricalsociety; Instagram, instagram.com/arizonahistoricalsociety/; and Twitter, twitter.com/AZHistSociety.
“We are very grateful for the generous bequest from Mr. Simone,” says Bill Ponder, AHS deputy director and COO. He notes that a purchase reducing the price by an amount designated as a charitable donation to the Arizona Historical Society will be considered.
He adds: “The funds realized from the sale will provide much-needed financial resources to support our operations –– from infrastructure improvements to educational programming and exhibit development.”
A revolving gallery is at azingrealtymedia.hd.pics/6402-E-Cheney-Dr/idx.