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.

821 N. 3rd St. in Evans Churchill (light rail at Roosevelt Station)

Seemingly everyone in Downtown Phoenix has an Holgas story (or two, or three… ). The modest apartment complex has been on 3rd and Garfield streets for five decades, and it shows its battle scars — wear and tear from frequent tenant turnover, evidence of the tough love of countless arts projects and layers of cover-up.

In recent years, the two-story structure has been know Downtown-wide as a prominent low-rent stop for struggling artists looking for consistent and convenient First Friday showcasing.

Cautious art-walkers enter the studios — doubling as living spaces and galleries — to view art in a rather intimate, hands-on manner. During the mid-2000s, Holgas was the spot to check out up-and-coming bands each month in rather informal front-yard showcases. Music is less frequent here these days, but the artsy vibe is still very much alive, and encouraged.

Modern in style, the 1960 commercial building meshes well with the remaining low-rise commercial rows on 3rd and 4th streets. Architecturally, it might seem rather unremarkable — painted concrete block, check; flat roof, indeed. The history here is less in the changes and the structural upkeep of the building itself and more in the stories of the unique times shared within its walls and around its walk-up front entrance.

Each studio unit has an exterior entryway, with stairs at the north façade leading to a second story. The two commercial offices that face 3rd Street — one currently houses Phoenicia Association’s retail space — have presented a revolving door of tenants and purposes, but appear no worse for the wear.

Note: The former street number of the building was 819. It was changed to 821 some time after build-out.

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Source: City of Phoenix Historical/Architectural Resource Survey of the Evans Churchill Area, April 1988

Is there a historic property in Downtown Phoenix you’d like to see in From the Arizona Room? Email me at with the address and a brief description.