We continue our series on the historic home districts in downtown Phoenix AZ with Idylewilde Park, a small and unusual grouping of homes from the late 1920’s and 1930’s. We will begin with a bit of history, a look at the neighborhood today and a YouTube virtual tour of Idyleilde Park and its homes.
Idylwilde Park Historic District Information and History
Imagine you were living in the 1920’s. It was a upbeat time in Phoenix Arizona. The population was jumping like kids on a trampoline, the job market was frenzied, our sweet Sonoran desert was a top tourist destination and real estate development was simply booming; Yippie ki-yay Phoenix.
Among the people capitalizing on the real estate boom were CW Stephenson and Earl Webster. These gentlemen were called “real estate promoters” and among their promotions was a very special subdivision called Idylwilde Park.
Judging by the name you may have guessed the neighborhood included a park. In fact, the park was the hub of this special development and featured something pretty novel and spectacular… a huge pool. Besides the pool, the promoters said the park would feature tennis courts, a children’s playground, its own artisan well all beautifully landscapted and bordered by Tamarisk trees.
Outside the tree lined rectangle of Idylewilde park were forty-two home lots on which the developers built 8 spec homes. BTW.. eight spec properties in a sub-division was and still is considered a bunch.
Based on the time line of events, Misters Stephenson & Webster were quick executers. The subdivision was plated in March of 1928 and the grand opening celebration happened on October 7th of the same year.
According to numerous advertisements on display at the City of Phoenix Historic Preservation department, the grand opening of Idylwilde Park was quite an event. Approximately 4000 people attended the gala where they had the opportunity to view the eight spec homes, and enjoy the park with pool, playgrounds, tennis courts, and a couple dozen bathing girls. Perhaps this is why Stephenson and Webster were called “promoters” verses “developers.”
By all accounts, the party was a success. Webster & Stephenson sold over $17,000 worth of real estate that day. Considering homes went for $4-5K and lots for $645-$745, that’s a lot of transactions.
Idylwilde Park Historic District Today:
I’d characterize Idylwilde Park as uncommon and rare. The homeowners are pretty protective of the area and their park. Some of the homes express good pride of ownership and some need a lot of TLC. What stands out is the mature landscaping surround many of the homes.
Among the many homes are some fine examples of revival style homes including:
- 16 Craftsman or Bungalow Style Homes
- 9 Tudor Revivals
- 4 Spanish Colonial Revivals
The park itself is a demonstration of perseverance. A few decades ago the pool fell into disrepair. An engineer was hired to evaluate and give his recommendations. He thought the best use of the structure was as a large flower pot. The neighborhood disagreed and saved the pool which is widely used today. The Tamarisk trees (aka Salt Cedar) still line the park and in this writer’s opinion would benefit by a good arborist’s touch.
The homes are on the smallish size with 2-3 bedrooms and averaging 1300 sq.ft. A couple houses were picked up by flippers in 2011-2013 with extensive updating. Since few come on the market, not too much is known about the overall inventory.
On a personal note, our Mom owned some properties in the area about 30 years ago. As it turns out, two of her duplexes were located on the northern side of the park and her name was found in the records when the neighborhood applied for historic designation. It’s a small world after all.