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.
1210 N. 5th Ave. in Roosevelt
It’s impossible to miss from several thoroughfares — 3rd, 5th and 7th avenues and I-10, in particular — the massive Neoclassical building teetering on the edge of the former Kenilworth Historic District (now part of the larger Roosevelt Historic District). It is the Kenilworth School, and it has been enriching Downtown elementary students since 1920.
The columned Neoclassical Revival façade of the building is demanding, towering in scope and just plain impressive to see. The front portico features six 35-foot Roman Ionic columns, an entablature with a pediment top proudly proclaiming, KENILWORTH.
Construction of the school began in 1919 using architect Verne Wallingford’s design, heavily influenced by Revival-style lines that were popular in the 1910s and ’20s.
Remarkably, the building is in fantastic condition and still operating as it was in 1920, despite 90 years of children running through its halls. A major renovation occurred in 1981, but perhaps the most remarkable feat is its current location: mere feet away from the walls of I-10. The school was spared from the freeway expansion, which cut through neighboring buildings to the south and through parts of the F.Q. Story neighborhood to the west. The school now has convenient 5th/7th Avenue entrances off the interstate.
One of few A++ schools in the area, Kenilworth has a proud tradition in Roosevelt. Famous alumni include Margaret Hance (namesake to the neighboring park across 5th Avenue) and Barry Goldwater.
Sources: Staging a Comeback — The Arizona Commission on the Arts by Gerald A. Doyle & Associates, P.C.; National Register of Historic Places
Is there a historic property in Downtown Phoenix you’d like to see in From the Arizona Room? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the address and a brief description.