1910 | Stoddard-Harmon House

801 N. 1st Ave.

I have driven past this house hundreds of times and thought little of it except that it’s a beautiful example of Mission Revival architecture from a past era of grand homes located in central Phoenix. This, and a similar home across the street are now law offices, which seems to be the characteristic modern use of these stately old homes.

The other day when I drove by I was surprised to see the house against a backdrop of the newly completed Stewart apartments — a 19-story luxury highrise. The sight made me wonder about the person who built this house and what they would think of the glass and steel structure looming over it, so I did some digging.

Celora Martin Stoddard, 1886 – 1943, was born in Binghampton, New York and moved to Phoenix with his father, who founded the Stoddard-Binghampton copper mine in Yavapi County. Celora was involved in mining, but also in finance and development. He was president of Stoddard Investment Company and the Stoddard Incorporating Company. A state Senator from 1921 to 1923, Stoddard lost a bid for the Arizona governorship in 1928. In 1919 he sold the house to Lon Harmon, a successful cattle rancher.

After WWI, Stoddard knew that returning service men would face a housing shortage, so he built a 10-unit apartment complex a few blocks away from his home on 1st Avenue. Alexandria Court was a “modern, up-to-date bungalow court,” according to an ad in the Arizona Republic. This makes me think that Stoddard may have approved of the “luxury” apartments built to accommodate Phoenix’s growing population. He may have even helped finance it!

About the house

Built in 1910 the 2-story house is accented by a hipped Spanish tile roof and surrounded on 2 sides by a covered porch accented with arched openings and a curvelinear parapet wall indicative of the Mission Revival Style. The main entrance to the home is distinguished by the prominent decorative feature on the parapet wall above.

Historical images and photo of Stoddard grave courtesy of AZCentral.

1912 | “Frenchy” Vieux

508 W. Portland St.

This house is certainly a standout in the Roosevelt Historic District. It sits among many large Craftsman bungalows along Portland St., but it bears no resemblance to that popular style from the early 19th century. The overall impression is low and horizontal, even though it is a two-story house. A 75′ veranda runs along the southern elevation and features a large round extension of the porch at the SE corner of the home. The National Register of Historic Places inventory of homes in the Roosevelt Historic District calls this house “one of the few, if not the only example of an Italian Villa (Italianate) style residence in the Salt River Valley,” but I disagree. “Frenchy” Vieux has the low profile (accentuated by the second floor dormers) and deep eaves typical of the Prairie Style.* As is indicative of Period Revival homes in the Phoenix area, the architect took liberties to incorporate some Classical and possibly Mediterranean influences into his design — such as the columns that line the veranda and details on planters and lamps — but the primary elements are Prairie.

The house cost $10,000 to build and was designed by Leighton G. Knipe, a Los Angeles architect who designed many homes and public buildings in Phoenix, for Marcellin “Frenchy” Vieux, who acted as his own contractor at a . Vieux came to Phoenix from France around 1904 and made his fortune as a concrete contractor. In fact, you might see the “Frenchy” Vieux stamp on sidewalks around the older parts of Phoenix. The one pictured above is right in front of the house. As you might expect, Vieux built his house primarily out of concrete, including the retaining wall around the yard and the decorative flower pots, columns and light fixtures. After Vieux’s death, the house was used as a music school and then subdivided into apartments. It was eventually acquired by the City of Phoenix as part of the right of way for I-10, and may have been torn down under the freeway’s original design. However, the city’s plans changed and lucky for us “Frenchy” Vieux is still standing today!

*For more on Prairie Style architecture, visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust

Note: I will feature an Italianate home — The Norton House — in a future post.