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 second floor). For further information on this and other historic structures in the area, visit the Arizona Room during normal library hours.

15th Avenue at Wilshire Drive (Encanto Park)

In the 1930s, when Encanto Park was springing to life, the city needed a focal point for its first-ever municipal golf course. On the “banks” of the man-made lake in the center of the park, the Encanto Park Clubhouse was erected.

Original architect Lee Fitzhugh planned the clubhouse in 1936 as part of the biggest parks and development program in Phoenix’s history, settling on an immaculate Spanish Colonial Revival design. Lescher and Mahoney, noted architects in their own right and designers of the Orpheum Theatre, among others, finished the project later that year.

It’s a sturdy hunk of a building — brick, with a concrete foundation and a sandblasted exterior. Over 75 years, the alterations have been minor, cosmetic touches, such as replacing and fixing the clay roof tiles, often victims of the Phoenix summer sun. A brick elevator shaft was also added to suit city code.

Exceptional Spanish Revival details include intricate brick banding at the parapet and chimneys. The hipped, flat roof reveals exposed rafters below. The original pergola offers shade to the intimate offset entryway. It was built as the definitive structure of the park and golf course, and it still does not disappoint decades later.

Encanto Park is indeed ever-transitioning (pick up a February/March issue of DPJ magazine for all the details), but it’s a true boon to the city that such an excellent central structure remains intact.

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Source: City of Phoenix Historical/Architectural Survey of City-Owned Properties, August 1986

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  • I love that building, its great in Encanto Park. Though I do wish going forward that the 9 hole course at Encanto would be removed and replaced with more park space. Encanto park is technically a 222 acre park, but really its just a medium sized park with a ton of golf attached. Golf is getting less and less popular with young people, I’d like to see that space used on more ball fields, perhaps a skate park, etc., something that more people could actually use.

    Also Si, have you done any Arizona room pieces on any of the warehouses along Van Buren? Specifically the one with the nice ornamentation on the SE Corner of 4th Ave and VB and the series of Warehouses between 5th and 6th Ave on the South side? I seem to recall you might have, but a quick (see: lazy) search didn’t yield any results.

    I worry a bit about buildings like those. They’ve been unused or under utilized as long as I can recall and are bit off the beaten path of recent Downtown development and redevelopment, I’d hate to see them lay fallow and then get demolished some day. I think West VB between Central and 7th Ave has a lot of potential to eventually connect Downtown with Lower Grand, especially is the Grand Ave Rail Project (G.A.R.P.) ever happens.

    • Will,

      I’ll have to look into those warehouse spaces along Van Buren. I think GARP potentially has the ability to reactivate that area — not just along Van Buren, but also on Monroe and Adams as well. Time will only tell, but those buildings do appear to have great bones. Thanks for the suggestion!