1928 | The Indian House

2040 Encanto Drive SE

When land developer, Dwight Heard, started work on his new high-end community, Encanto, he envisioned it to be the “Bel Aire” of Phoenix, where local movers and shakers would build stunning homes on its curvelinear, palm-tree-lined streets. In order to attract buyers he built “model homes” that showcased the skill of his designers and builders. These were not model homes in the modern sense, they were demonstration houses that highlighted the quality, design and modern conveniences that could be incorporated into any of the custom homes built in Encanto. The “Indian House” as it was known, is one of these model homes. Built in the Pueblo Revival style, it provides us with a distinctive impression of the pueblos that dot the New Mexico and Arizona landscape. The house is constructed of block, but designed to look like plastered adobe with uneven surfaces and rounded corners and parapet walls. Originally wood beams, known as vigas, protruded from the roofline and rustic wooden ladders tied the various levels together.

The Pueblo Revival style grew in popularity largely due to hotelier Fred Harvey’s romantic view of the Southwest and its native people. In the late 1800s, Harvey started a chain of hotels along the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad line, which helped spur tourism to the Southwest. His landmark hotels, such as La Posada and La Fonda in Santa Fe, New Mexico and others including El Tovar at the Grand Canyon, provided visitors with comfortable accommodations and an idealized notion of local architectural traditions. His popular “Indian Detours” — coach tours that took visitors into Indian Country — showcased Native American arts and crafts that travelers of the time found irresistible. The fever for Indian art and design that spread across the West is epitomized by The Indian House, which stands as a noteworthy example of this style.

Side note: this house is right around the corner from the Joe Barta House I featured in another blog post.

1928 | The Joe Barta House

1801 Palmcroft Drive NE

This is one of the most creative houses in Encanto-Palmcroft! It was built in 1928 for Joe Barta, owner of Butcher Boy meat markets, and designed by prominent Phoenix architect, Dwight Chenault. What makes this house so creative and one of my personal favorites, is that it was designed to look like a Mexican village, with masses of various shapes and heights. Many Spanish Revival homes used massing to imitate the look of an old village but this one takes the notion and really runs with it. The house is built around a front courtyard with fountain, designed to look like a central plaza. On the right side of the courtyard is a large round wood door surrounded by scalloped plaster work that makes this mass look like a church. Across the “plaza” is a winding exterior staircase that leads to a landing with another door and archways that lead the eye further up the imaginary hill this “village” is built on. Chenault didn’t forget the details, either. Tile accents, stained glass and windows of various sizes and shapes further suggest the look of individual buildings, rather than a single home.

1931 | The Nathan Diamond House

2220 N. 9th Ave.

Nathan Diamond was a Polish immigrant and the founder — with his brother Issac — of Diamond’s department store in 1897. The brothers came to Phoenix from El Paso where they had a successful dry goods store. Their Phoenix store was originally known as The Boston Store and, along with Goldwaters, was the posh shopping destination in downtown Phoenix. Diamond’s eventually expanded to 12 stores throughout the Southwest when it was sold to Dillards in the 1980s.

In 1931, Diamond built a 4,900-square-foot, 5-bedroom Mediterranean Revival home in the Encanto-Palmcroft neighborhood of Phoenix. Costing $17,000 to build, it has an elegant 2-story foyer with a sweeping stairway and hand-carved doors imported from South America. The exterior features multiple diamond-shaped details in the shutters and the stained glass behind the Juliet balcony, as well as a hand-carved stone arch decorating the entrance. Diamond held elaborate parties here in the huge ballroom; Guests were greeted at the door by the sound of a string quartet playing on the small balcony above the entrance, which was only accessible by a ladder hidden in the closet to the right of the front door. The house also boasts a full basement where the family stayed cool in the hot Phoenix summers.

Historic image courtesy of thedepartmentstoremuseum.org, interior image from zillow.com.