Barrio Historico

Statue of a Leather Jacketed Solider or Soldado de Cuera of the Spanish Presidio of San Agustin de Tucson founded in 1776 by an Irish Spanish Military Officer Hugo O’Conor

I’m working on an incredible project for the National Park Service Urban Agenda and Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation to get the Barrio Viejo or Old Quarter of Tucson National Historic Landmark designation. It is a very special neighborhood with a unique and hyper regional architectual style known as the adobe Sonoran Row house, which admirably is the perfect building style for the realities of the Sonoran desert. What’s most intriguing are the architectural qualities one encounters which are reflective of the Moorish cultural inheritance that the Spanish brought here first centuries ago.

This picture is of Ken Scolville, a wonderful local historian explaining a historical photograph, in front of a great example of this building tradition with the deep recessed windows and doors to avoid direct sunlight, and a large thermal mass of adobe that keeps the interior cool in the heat of summer.

It has been a super busy and fun week that has gone by very fast as we gear up to undertake the first phase of the process to achieve National Historic Landmark (NHL) Status for one of Tucson’s oldest neighborhoods. The response by volunteers willing to help us on this project has been really astounding, and to see how many people care about the history of this Southwestern city has been very heartwarming. We have since divided our volunteer groups into three divisions – (1) a data entry team; (2) a historical research team; and (3) a fieldwork team. The research team has been charged with uncovering title documents and historical information regarding the 400 properties we will be surveying to acquire NHL status. The fieldwork team is out in the Barrio recording architectural details of each and every property in our survey zone, and uploading that information to an App known as Fulcrum. Finally we have the data entry team, who are currently uploading the information from about 53 Historic American Building Survey (HABS) reports done in 1980 to our database which already have their title histories and associated data. I have been tasked with helping manage and organize these groups into a schedule with AM and PM shifts to start tackling this important project. ┬áNHL status for the Barrio will entail a greater public profile for the historic quarter on the national level and open up a lot of technical assistance from the National Park Service in multiple fields such as conservation.

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