As one of Phoenix’s more recently developed historic neighborhoods, Windsor Square showcases architecturally modern homes with traditional influences.
Windsor Square Historic District is located to the north of Camelback Rd and east of Central Avenue. In a sense, it is a miracle development as it took courage in the late 1920’s to conceive building a large housing development so far north of the downtown core. Most believe the then-new Arizona Biltmore Resort and Brophy College had much to do with the developer’s unorthodox location choice. Let’s take a look at the past and present Windsor Square Historic neighborhood.
Windsor Square Historic District History.
Windsor Square was the dream of the Owen-Dinmore Company, an upstart Phoenix real estate firm. Nothing is written about the financing behind Owen-Dinmore, yet they must have had deep pockets. In addition to paying $150,000 to acquire the land, they hired consulting firms from Phoenix, New York and California to design, engineer, build and market the project. Historical records show considerable marketing and fanfare was generated. One of our favorite quotes during the launch of the community came from John Case of a Los Angeles consulting firm. He was reported to have said:
“The Windsor Square community will stand out as one of the very finest home communities in the entire southwest, incorporating ideas which have proven highly successful in the finest select colonies in America today.” (I just love the use of the word colonies.)
Windsor Square opened it doors for business on February 24, 1929. In all accounts it was a wild event with a giant balloon floating above the 270 home sites, tiny scale models of several model homes and huge ads in the local paper. Reports differ in actual numbers, but it is likely that thousands were drawn to see what all the fuss was about.
Despite forward thinking architectural ideas and a most creative marketing approach, Windsor Square fell into trouble. Sales were not as brisk as hoped and they were just months away from Black Friday and the Great Depression. By mid-1930 Owens and Dinmore was in severe financial trouble and construction fell to a standstill and not to resume until the late 1930’s.
News accounts say that lot sale and home building was pretty brisk from 1939 to 1942 but another problem brought things to an end… WWII. As a side note, most all subdivisions in the country experienced the same problems, Windsor Square was just one of many great ideas that met bad times.
When WWII came to an end Phoenix experienced a housing boom. It was at this time that the dream of a competed Windsor Square Subdivision became a reality and the remaining lots were now homes.
Windsor Square Historic District Today:
Windsor Square Historic District has grown up to be one of the premier neighborhoods in Phoenix. It has a wonderful mix of revival style homes including English, Spanish, Mediterranean and Monterey as well a some bungalows, transitional ranch and true ranch. You’ll find large homes, small homes and a wide range of lot sizes. In addition, Windsor is famous for its streets. Unlike the grid-like style most often employed in street engineering, Windsor Square has features winding oval or curvilinear streets with some blocked to cars. The result is a more pedestrian friendly and artistic feeling neighborhood.
If you talk to homeowners you’ll generally find them passionate about their neighborhood. It shows in the generally fine landscaping, exterior maintenance of the homes and not often seen things like a community newsletter, local events and the bi-annual Windsor Square Home and Garden Tour. (See our article about this wonderful party.)
Life in the Windsor Square area is equally fun. Some absolutely fantastic restaurants are minutes away and access to the Biltmore, Downtown Phoenix and Sky Harbor Airport is simple and fast, including a light rail station just to the SW at Central and Camelback. I’d say Windsor Square ranks among the top historic districts in Phoenix for styling, walk-ability and lifestyle.
A YouTube Virtual Tour of Windsor Square Historic District
We took over 80 pictures of the neighborhood to create virtual tour representation of the Windsor Square Historic neighborhood. Since there are over 200 homes in the district, not all are show, yet we hope it gives you a sense of the place. Below the tour you will find a link to homes currently for sale in Windsor Square. They do not come up too often, so the list may be pretty short.
Homes for Sale In Windsor Square Historic District
Special thanks to Karen Olson’s history of Windsor Square, The City of Phoenix and the Arizona Room at the Burton Barr library for information used in the article. Together we help preserve the history of our city.