Originally called Hayden’s Ferry, Tempe, Arizona, is part of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Phoenix was settled in 1867 and 1868, and Hayden’s Ferry came shortly thereafter. The city officially incorporated in 1894. A number of historic properties and landmarks still stand in Tempe, monuments to this city’s long and fascinating history.
Valley Art Theatre
The Valley Art Theatre (then called the College Theatre) opened in 1940, built by Dwight Harkins. Although Harkins built several theaters in Arizona, the College Theatre was special because it featured exciting innovations such as headphones for hearing-impaired patrons, glow-in-the-dark carpet, and special drinking fountains that were electronically controlled. The theater still operates today, and it continues to remain on the cutting edge of technology.
Moeur Park originally began as a roadside rest area along the highway between Phoenix and Tempe. The park was named for Honor Anderson Moeur, wife of former Gov. B.B. Moeur. Historic structures date back to 1936, which serve as fascinating landmarks in the park. Exploring the park’s 10 acres will showcase these structures, which include stone benches and tables, retaining walls, irrigation boxes, planter boxes, stairs, and more.
Hayden Flour Mill
The Hayden Flour Mill is no longer operating, but it remains an iconic part of Tempe’s past. The building was built in 1918, replacing an earlier mill that was built in 1895 but burned down in 1917. A grain elevator and silo located near the mill were the tallest structures in the city until 2007. This mill ceased operations in 1998.
Tempe Double Butte Cemetery
The Tempe Double Butte Cemetery was the city’s first cemetery. Exploring this cemetery helps bring to life the history and culture that make Tempe unique. Many of the early pioneers who helped settle Tempe are buried in this cemetery. Some of the graves found in the cemetery include those of Charles Trumbull Hayden (founder of Tempe) and Carl Hayden (son of Charles Hayden and a former U.S. senator).
Roosevelt Addition Historic District
Included on the National Register of Historic Places, this neighborhood was the first subdivision in Tempe that was designed to adhere to Federal Housing Administration guidelines. This neighborhood is also the first one built with all of the homes being nearly identical, using standardized plans and techniques. This neighborhood was built in the late 1940s. It is located near downtown Tempe.
Garfield Goodwin Building
Garfield A. Goodwin moved to Tempe in 1888 as a child. He attended the Territorial Normal School (now Arizona State University), played on the college football team, graduated, and worked for several local companies. Goodwin also owned and operated the Goodwin Curio Store, opened in 1903. Although his original building is now home to other businesses, it still stands and has some of the original exterior and interior architecture. In fact, the original awning on the storefront is still in place.
Governor B.B. Moeur House
Arizona’s eighth governor was Dr. Benjamin Baker Moeur. Serving as governor during the Depression, Moeur was instrumental in securing government funds to assist Arizona cities during this time. The home that still stands on this lot was originally a tiny wooden house, built in 1893. Dr. Moeur bought the property in 1889, and within a couple of years, he began renovating and adding to it. The building now houses the Tempe Community Council. It has been carefully renovated to retain its original architecture.
Mill Avenue Bridge
The Tempe Bridge, also known as the Mill Avenue Bridge, was one of the first automobile bridges built to cross the Salt River. The bridge has been in continuous use since 1931. When first built, this bridge was the largest one in Arizona. Even with challenging flooding that happens on the Salt River on occasion, the Mill Avenue Bridge has stood fast. This bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.