From the Arizona Room is a weekly column examining the historic, reuse and infill structures in Downtown Phoenix. The inspiration for this column stems from the ever-expanding resources in Burton Barr Central Library’s Arizona Room (located on the fourth floor). For further information on this and other historic structures in the area, visit the Arizona Room during normal library hours.
314 E. Buchanan St. in SoDo/Warehouse
The stretch of Buchanan Street south of US Airways Center — between Central Avenue and 4th Street — is virtually deserted most times of the day, save for a few residents trickling to and from the Stadium Lofts building. A block to the east of those condos, a small, abandoned brick storefront sits, all but forgotten, its expansive parking lot fenced in and topped with razor wire.
Most people probably drive by it in a flash and don’t even notice it. Granted, the structure is small, but back in the 1890s, it was one of Phoenix’s impressive and well-lauded commercial buildings.
The building is the former E.L. Fresnal Grocery Store, built c. 1890, even then one of Phoenix’s original commercial structures. Today, it’s one of the oldest buildings in Maricopa County.
If you stop to marvel at the Fresnal Grocery, a few key design elements are still apparent. It features a false front design typical of territorial architecture of the era. The all-brick structure was built in two phases. The original phase — the larger of the two building sections — has a gabled roof and stepped parapet. This part of the building features the false front with two arched openings (in actuality, most patrons probably entered from the back of the building away from Buchanan Street, now facing the vacant parking surface).
The smaller addition, probably built shortly after the original section, has a flat roof, a similar arched entranceway and a corbelled cornice. Some 120 years later, it remains the building’s only documented alteration.
Source: Phoenix Historic Building Survey by Charles Hall Page and Associates, Sep. 1979
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