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All basic wealth has its origin in Land.
- Floyd W. Medlock
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
 

Medlock Place Historic District
Maricopa County, Arizona


Report prepared for the
United States Department of the Interior
National Park Service
National Register of Historic Places

 

  Criteria Review/Credits
Medlock Place Historic District Overview
  Summary
  Description
Statement of Historical Contribution: Medlock Place
  Summary
  Historical Overview
   

  Agricultural Development, 1867 to 1910

  Suburban & Rural Residential Development, 1920 to 1955
  Historic Contexts
   

  Rural & Suburban Development, 1911 to 1955
 

  The Boom Years, 1911 to 1930

  Post World War II Development, 1945 to 1955
   

  Community Planning & Development, 1926 to 1955
 

  Impact of the Roosevelt Dam & Suburban Growth

  Government Programs & Suburban Growth
   

  Residential Architectural Styles & Building Technology, 1900 to 1956
 

  The Bungalow Style

  Period Revival Style

  Ranch-style House
  Bibliography


Architectural Classification
Late 19th and 20th Century Revivals
Others: Ranch; Modern Movement

Materials
Foundation: Concrete
Walls: Brick
Roof: Asphalt
Other: Wood, Stucco

Applicable National Register Criteria
Property is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history.

Property embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction or represents the work of a master, or possesses high artistic values, or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components lack individual distinction.

Areas of Significance
Community Planning and Development Architecture

Period of Significance
1920-1956

Significant Dates
1926

Prepared By:
Robert G. Graham, AIA
November, 2002
Metropolis Design Group, LLC
2601 N 3rd St
Suite 308
Phoenix, AZ 85004
602- 274-9777

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NARRATIVE DESCRIPTION/Medlock Place Historic District Overview


Summary

The Medlock Historic District is a north central Phoenix residential neighborhood that developed predominantly between 1926 and 1956. The district lies within a quarter-section of land bounded by Missouri Avenue on the north, Camelback Road on the south, Seventh Avenue on the west, and Central Avenue on the east. The neighborhood includes parts of six distinct subdivisions, platted between 1897 and 1938, displaying the typical planning concepts of the day including straight streets aligned with the cardinal directions, with residences provided with north and south exposures. While there are other styles represented, homes in the district represent two primary eras: the latter part of the Period Revival era, 1926-1930, and the early Ranch era, 1935-1956. As a whole, the neighborhood retains its historic appearance from its period of development, with modem or altered structures making up less than one third of the buildings in the district.


Description

The Medlock Historic District is located along the west side of Central Avenue north of Camelback Road in Phoenix, Arizona. At the time of its development, this area was considered to be rural, dominated by fruit orchards and fields with a few farmhouses, and was several miles north of the Phoenix city limits. Due to the explosive growth of the last fifty years, the neighborhood is now in the center of the city.

The neighborhood encompasses much of the southwest quarter of the section of land originally subdivided as the Evans' Addition to Orangewood. This plat extended from Camelback Road north to Bethany Home Road, and from Seventh Street west to Seventh Avenue. Most of the Medlock Historic District resulted from replattings of the large, 20-acre farm lots of the Evans' Addition, subdividing them into fifth-acre to half-acre house lots.

The history of development of the neighborhood can still be read from the homes and lots themselves.

The first major replats were the Medlock Place (1926) and South Medlock (1927) subdivisions, at the south end of the district near Central Avenue, and include lots along Colter Street, Medlock Drive, and Pasadena Avenue, from Third Avenue to Central Avenue. These two subdivisions feature large, half-acre lots and developed mostly before the Great Depression. For this reason, most homes in these areas are examples of the English Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, or late Bungalow styles.

Soon after the Medlock subdivisions began development, the Orangewood Estates subdivision (1928) was platted at the northwest corner of the neighborhood, bounded by Missouri Avenue on the north. Seventh Street on the west, Colter Street on the south, and extending a little east of Third Avenue. The plat for Orangewood Estates included 16 one and two acre lots. The Orangewood Estates subdivision saw little development, however, until after World War II. A few prewar homes in the area remain, distinguished by architectural style and by the large size of the lots. The remainder of the one and two acre lots were further subdivided informally into the smaller, typical "city" house lots. Most of these were developed with Transitional and Early Ranch style houses after 1935, and mostly after the war.

Two additional subdivisions were platted between the Medlock and Orangewood areas just before the war; South Orangewood (1937) and Aldrich Place (1939). They are mostly populated by Transitional and Early Ranch style homes. Their plans followed the precedent set by the earlier subdivisions with regard to street and lot layout.

The overall rural character of the district is brought forth through mature, dense plantings and broad, flood-irrigated lawns that are common. The rural character is further enhanced in the Medlock Place and South Medlock subdivisions by the large, spacious lots. Streets, while once graveled, have now all been paved with asphalt, although Medlock Place and South Medlock still have no curbs and gutters; these have been added in the other areas.

Architectural styles represented in the Medlock Historic District include the Bungalow Style; Period Revival variants including the Spanish Colonial Revival, English Tudor Revival, Pueblo Revival, American Colonial Revival, and the Southwest Style; Modern Movement styles including Art Deco and International Style; and California Ranch subtypes including the Transitional Ranch, French Provincial Ranch, Spanish Colonial Ranch, Contemporary Ranch, and American Colonial Ranch. Period Revival style homes predominate in the Medlock Place and South Medlock areas, while Ranch style homes predominate in the other areas. In general, the residences are single-story. Homes in Medlock Place and South Medlock tend to be larger than the other areas, commensurate with the size of the lots. Second story additions occur occasionally; original two-story homes are rare. Homes generally have uniform setbacks providing a front yard (usually turf and landscaping) of 20 to 30 feet in depth. Home on corner lots frequently make use of both street frontages with secondary entrances or garages. Many of the homes have historic-era garages associated with them, usually of a similar or compatible design.

The overall condition of the properties in the neighborhood is good. Most homes are well-maintained. There has also been a trend toward major additions and remodeling for some of the properties. Several historic-era homes, particularly in Medlock Place and South Medlock, have been modernized such that they no longer present their historic appearance. However, the majority of the homes are unaltered or have minor alterations such as window replacements, or in some cases exterior sheathing such as stucco applied over earlier brick.

The district is distinguished from its surroundings on all sides. The corridor along Central Avenue has been redeveloped with commercial uses, marking a clear delineation and difference in character. This is also true for the portion of the district abutting Camelback Road. The area to the southwest of the district, south of Colter Avenue and west of Third Avenue, has modern development dominated by multi-family uses and a modern church. Seventh Avenue and Missouri Avenue also present clear limits, with single family homes west and north of these thoroughfares representing more recent development. The area north of Georgia Avenue and from Third Avenue east has a mixture of modern commercial and multi-family residential uses. Within the district, the predominantly residential character and continuity of streets enhances its overall unity.


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NARRATIVE STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE/Statement of Historical Contribution: Medlock Place


Summary

The Medlock Historic District is significant under Criterion A in the area of Community Planning and Development as an excellent example of the transition from rural to suburban development in Phoenix from 1926 to 1956. The district represents the residential growth of Phoenix to the north along the Seventh Avenue/Seventh Street corridors and the shift in development toward a suburban development model. The District is additionally significant under Criterion C in the area of Architecture as an area with good intact examples of Period Revival and Ranch style homes illustrating building construction and techniques used in Phoenix during the period of significance, 1926-1956.


Historical Overview

The development of Medlock Place, located within the North-Central corridor of Phoenix, can be divided into two periods. Early development in the area encouraged the transformation of the desert into agricultural production, Later, land developers sought to capitalize on the growing population of the Valley of the Sun by subdividing agricultural land into large semi-rural residential tracts. In the second developmental period, the increasing physical expansion of Phoenix encouraged the further subdivision of semi-agricultural holdings, and developers experimented with new advertising and marketing strategies. During the Great Depression, development slowed, and federal programs increasingly influenced the style and method of construction in the Valley. After World War II, Phoenix redoubled development efforts to meet the growing demand for residential housing.


Agricultural Development of North-Central Phoenix, 1867-1910

John William (Jack) Swilling developed and promoted the first modern irrigation systems in Phoenix starting in 1867. His system largely followed defunct prehistoric Hohokam agricultural canals, the remains of which were still evident throughout the Salt River Valley. Through the 1880s and 1890s, various canal developers expanded and consolidated the system, opening thousands acres of arable land for cultivation. Promoted by Arizona canal builder and Phoenix booster W. J. Murphy, the Arizona Canal opened up an additional 100,000 acres of desert for cultivation, and brought Phoenix national attention.

With Phoenix at the core of a network of small agricultural communities scattered throughout Maricopa County, the Salt River Valley population grew steadily from about 270 souls in 1870 to over 20,000 people in 1900. However, severe drought seasons in 1893-1898 and again in 1901-1904 brought heavy agricultural losses to farms in the Salt River Valley, the droughts particularly affected citrus farmers. In the 1880s, nearly two-thirds of the land that had been reclaimed for agricultural use fell fallow. Farmers understood that the existing canal system could not guarantee a dependable water source for Valley agriculture.

In the 1890s, a development concept emerged in Phoenix patterned after the Garden City Suburbs of Chicago and Los Angeles. Upper class Phoenicians moved to rural estates or "country homes" within easy traveling distance to the city. In July 1895, prominent local developer William J. Murphy subdivided a tract of agricultural land north of town and called the newly platted area the Orangewood Subdivision. Bounded by Northern Avenue to the north, Bethany Home Road to the south, and 7th Street (then called Cave Creek Road) and 7th Avenue (then called Black Canyon Road) to the east and west, the subdivision straddled Central Avenue, the principal roadway for the area. Murphy's original plat included eighty lots of twenty acres or less situated within eight residential blocks. He created the large lots with the intent of attracting wealthy residents who would surround their large country estates with well-landscaped yards and groves of citrus.

Following Murphy's example, J. M. Evans platted the Evan's Addition to Orangewood in 1897. Directly south of the Orangewood Subdivision, Bethany Home Road bounded the north side of Evan's Addition, Camelback Road to the south, and 7th Street and 7th Avenue to the east and west, respectively. These twenty-acre lots were divided evenly over four blocks; each block contained twenty lots. Following conventions of the day, developers like Evans invested their time and money in subdividing the lots and providing basic services to the area (graded roads and minimal utilities) and individual buyers contracted architects and builders to construct their homes. While demand for land was high, construction generally lagged behind lot development.

Encouraged by federal reclamation projects promising dependable water for the Valley, the population of Maricopa County increased to 34,485 people by 1910. The completion of Roosevelt Dam in 1911 by the Bureau of Reclamation brought a new era of agricultural and residential development to the valley. The Salt River Valley Reclamation Project regulated water use and flow, prevented flooding, and provided a dependable water source to commercial agriculture and residential ventures.

A marriage of federal incentives and increased immigration to Phoenix influenced the sale of large tracts of rural land for subdivision into smaller (20-acre) farmsteads.

Until 1911, home building in Orangewood followed the twenty-acre lots of the original plats. Evan's Addition construction lagged significantly behind Orangewood, perhaps because Evans was holding the land as an investment. However, the coming of the Roosevelt Dam in 1911-and its resulting dependable source of water-influenced further subdivision of many of the area's "rural estates" for construction of more luxury homes on smaller lots. Phoenix's population growth slowed substantially in 1914 at the onset of World War I, but increased sharply after the war.

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Suburban and Rural Residential Development in North-Central Phoenix, 1920-1955

In the 1920s, Phoenix saw unprecedented agricultural and commercial production, promoting another population boom. The spiraling population increase also affected the physical dimensions of the city, as residential development rapidly extended the rural-urban interface in all directions from the city center. Meeting the demand for suburban residential land, developers further subdivided the twenty acre lots of the Evan's Addition, platting Medlock Place (1926), South Medlock Place (1927), Orangewood Estates (1928), South Orangewood (1937), and Aldrich Place (1939).

Floyd W. Medlock, a cotton broker living at 145 North 2nd Avenue, subdivided his portions of the Evan's Addition to Orangewood-Medlock Place and South Medlock Place–in 1926 and 1927, respectively. While developing the lots for sale, he continued working as a cotton broker. Medlock's advertising extolled country living "delights" such as low taxes and "lots of elbow room," while also advertising modern conveniences like fully electric kitchen appliances, electric light switches, and DuroPressure WaterSystems. A member of the Central Avenue Beautification Committee, Medlock planted seven-year old palms and shade trees along all of the gravel streets in the subdivision. Between Medlock Place's opening in October 1926 and February 1927, Medlock constructed several model homes for public viewing and had already sold nine finished homes.

Unlike previous building strategies used in the north-central corridor, Medlock sold pre-built homes, not vacant lots, and advertised the affordability, modernity, and quality (rather than exclusivity) of his homes. By April of 1927, Medlock had invested over $70,000 in his building program, with much apparent success. He hired the mason R. L. Moore to construct the "semi-English" style brick homes, and had hardwood floors installed in all rooms except for the bathrooms, which were tiled. Medlock also constructed "Spanish style" homes ranging in price from $8,000 to $10,000. Medlock claimed to have the fastest-growing home district in Phoenix, selling thirteen homes in 1927.

Medlock diversified his development strategy in South Medlock Place, offering vacant lots for sale. He advertised the South Medlock lots at "less 5% for Cash-5% Discount if you Build Within 60 Days" and offered payment plans of $150 down and $25 a month for a lot. Within one week of opening the subdivision, he sold one-third of the lots, mostly ones on Pasadena Avenue with views of Camelback Mountain.

In 1928, Orangewood Estates developers W. D. Upshaw and L. R. Bailey capitalized on the proximity of Medlock's success in their subdivision advertisements. Upshaw and Bailey also restricted a portion of their development for businesses now attracted to the residential expansion to the north. The developers also appealed to young families, mentioning such recent coups as the nearby construction of Brophy College and a school bond financing a new grade school on Camelback Road. Orangewood Estates lots were available as large 1 1/4 acre or 2 1/2 acre lots, and platted so that each estate had a corner tract. The developers also recognized the investment potential of the area to buyers, emphasizing that the existing lots could be further subdivided into six or twelve city lots, thereby "doubling your money immediately."

Orangewood Estates speculators did not have the immediate success that Medlock experienced. Rather, the large lots sold slowly, mostly going to local land speculators and for investment holdings. No houses were built in the area before the mid-1930s.

The stock market crash in 1929 slowed, but did not halt. Phoenix's growth. Unlike cities in the industrial north and east, Phoenix's strong agricultural economy, increasingly diversified business community, and status as the state government center kept the city alive, but still financially shaken. New Deal programs instituted in the 1930s helped many people in need, and established government guidelines and procedures that endured through the twentieth century.

By the mid-1930s, Phoenicians began the work of land development again, albeit slowly. Medlock Place continued its steady expansion, with Floyd Medlock building several more "economical" homes through 1934. The quick sales he had experienced in the late 1920s had, however, passed. Increasingly his speculative construction ventures remained vacant, as noted in City Directories. One of the few Orangewood Estates properties constructed on speculation remained vacant, and the 1938 City Directory noted that "transients" had taken up residence. By 1940, all but two of Floyd Medlock's lots in Medlock Place and five in South Medlock Place had sold and were occupied.

In 1937, A. J. and Margaret Atwater, local laundry owners who also speculated in commercial real estate, recorded South Orangewood, previously a portion of the Evan's Addition to Orangewood. Missouri Avenue and Colter Street bounded South Orangewood to the north and south, and Third Avenue was to the east. The west side of the subdivision abutted Orangewood Estates. In total, the Atwaters platted twenty-four lots, each lot averaging 73.5 by 135 feet. With a few exceptions in the late 1940s, almost all of the South Orangewood homes were built between 1937 and 1942.

Orangewood Realty Company recorded Aldrich Place in 1939. As with most construction in the area, growth was slow but steady before and during World War II. Orangewood Architect Jack Knapp designed the home at 128 W. Oregon (now 220 W. Oregon), which was completed in 1940. Other builders completed four other homes in the subdivision by 1944. Overall, South Orangewood, Orangewood Estates, and Aldrich Place saw little development until after the war.

The post-war years changed that quiet scene significantly. Nationally, the marriage rate doubled after the war, but in 1948, over 2 million couples were still living with relatives. Veterans Administration loans coupled with Federal Housing Administration mortgage programs made the financing easy, but the demand for ready-to-live-in housing was immediate. Phoenix developers saw and met that need, consistently. After the war, several builders were involved in South Orangewood, Orangewood Estates, and Aldrich Place home building, including Bob Dill and John Ramson. Dill lived in the house at 112 W. Oregon Avenue in 1948-49. Between 1945 and 1955 builders completed construction on almost all of the remaining lots in the Evan's Addition subdivisions.

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Historic Contexts

Rural and Suburban Development in North Central Phoenix, 1911-1955

The Boom Years: 1911-1930

After Roosevelt Dam's construction finished in 1911, Salt River Valley residents were assured a dependable source of water for agricultural and residential use during the federal "Reclamation era." Changes in land ownership followed, illustrated throughout the North Central Corridor. Orangewood and Evan's Addition to Orangewood both subdivided several times in the following years. Subdividers Richard M. Tuckey (Woodson Place, 1922), Wayne Thornburg (Orangewood Addition, 1927), and the Orangewood Realty Company along with Charles E. Borah and James E. Creighton (Wilder Place, 1940) platted further subdivisions of Orangewood. In total, developers subdivided Evan's Addition to Orangewood nine times between 1911 and 1942, several of these subdivisions creating the neighborhoods addressed in this survey. Floyd W. Medlock platted Medlock Place in 1926 and South Medlock Place in 1927. W. D. Upshaw and L. R. Bailey, who had purchased an undeveloped portion of Evan's Addition from the United States National Bank in Denver, subdivided Orangewood Estates in 1928.

Illustrating the dramatic shift from agriculture to residential development in North Central Phoenix, Medlock advertised his neighborhoods as representatives of the modern way of life in the Phoenix area. One advertisement extolled the virtues of growth and expansion saying, "see the plain ordinary fields of yesterday as the heart of a new and better home district." Medlock sold the best of both worlds to his buyers, offering "city conveniences with country delights" and lots nearly three times the size of an average city lot.


Post World War II Development, 1945-1955

Open fields with very little development characterized most of the lots in South Orangewood (1937) and Aldrich Place (1939) through the Great Depression and through the war years. With a few exceptions built in the early 1940s, construction in these subdivisions, and in Orangewood Estates, would not pick up until after World War II.

While experiencing many shortages that effected other cities in the nation during the war, Phoenix generally prospered in the war-time economy. Several military installations on the outskirts of town prompted residential growth spreading from the city center, although most of the ten thousand servicemen who came to Phoenix lived in tents. After the war, many of these military visitors chose to live in the Valley. Part of the romance of Phoenix was its agricultural past, and the draw of suburban outdoor living. Phoenix grew rapidly in the post-war years, from 65,000 people in 1940 to over 220,000 eight years later.

The city expanded in population and physical dimension in all directions. The North Central Corridor, previously noted for its "rural estates," now also contained smaller residential lots, although the lots were generally larger than in the city center. Builders also capitalized on new construction techniques, adapting the Western Ranch-style house to a host of revival styles. The Orangewood Estates, South Orangewood and Aldrich place neighborhoods experienced steady growth, with almost all lots finished with construction by 1955.


Community Planning and Development, 1926-1955

Impact of the Roosevelt Dam and Suburban Growth

Encouraged by federal reclamation projects promising dependable water for the Valley, the population of Maricopa County increased to 34,485 people by 1910. The completion of Roosevelt Dam in 1911 by the Bureau of Reclamation brought a new era of agricultural and residential development to the valley. Local agencies using federal guidelines regulated water use and flow, prevented flooding, and provided a dependable water source to commercial agriculture and residential ventures. A marriage of federal incentives and increased immigration to Phoenix influenced the sale of large tracts of rural land for subdivision into smaller (20-acre) farmsteads.

The dependable source of water secured for agricultural and residential use in greater Phoenix allowed residents the opportunity to live farther from town while having the conveniences of city living. The physical growth of the city also promoted this vision of having the "best of both worlds." Water availability influenced further subdivision of many of the area's "rural estates" for construction of more luxury homes on smaller lots. Phoenix's population growth slowed substantially in 1914 at the onset of World War I, but increased sharply after the war.

Floyd W. Medlock's development of Medlock Place (1926) and South Medlock Place (1927) reflect these trends in community growth as a result of government programs. Medlock promoted the benefits of country living, while also promising city amenities. Technological advances in home electricity, electric appliances, and water dispersal methods made his "city beautiful" campaign possible. The lush landscaping promised with every lot in Medlock Place could not have been established without the dependable water sources made possible by Roosevelt Dam.

Further, Medlock capitalized on the growing popularity of the automobile as a lifestyle necessity of the new suburbanite. Through the 1920s, the Phoenix-Orangewood-Glendale Interurban Electric Line brought rail service from downtown along 12th Street up to Maryland Avenue. At Maryland, the line veered west, then north again between 3rd and 7th Streets before making the "Orangewood Curve," which brought the line west through the Orangewood Subdivision along Myrtle Street. Medlock, however, assumed his customers would be driving to see Medlock Place, and would need garage space when they moved there. Most of his homes included detached two-car garages. As the Interurban Line ultimately failed, it is just as well that Medlock Place residents had so enthusiastically embraced automobile culture.

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Government Programs and Suburban Growth

The National Housing Act of 1934 created the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which gave incentives to homeowners, builders, and buyers as an economic revitalization effort. The FHA insured private lenders against loss on new mortgage loans, made financing easier, and established standards for housing construction. This nationwide surge in housing construction was echoed in the Salt River Valley. Valley residents also benefited from a local booster of the FHA program, Walter Bimson of Valley Bank and Trust (later Valley National Bank). Housing construction nationally, and in Phoenix, came to a near stand-still during the War years (1941-1945), so that resources could be directed into the war effort.

After the war, FHA programs provided an existing framework, national building standards, and an economic and regulatory infra-structure which promoted and streamlined the post-W.W.II hosing construction boom nationally and in Phoenix. FHA underwriting for mortgages was up to 80 or 90 percent of a home's value. With a Veterans Administration loan provided through the Gl Bill as a down payment, a returning soldier could practically be guaranteed home ownership. Millions were provided an opportunity to buy a home, with a low interest rate, without ever having to sacrifice their accumulated soldier's savings on a down payment.

This trend in financing also brought about a change in philosophy regarding construction methods and strategies. Prior to the war, subdividers generally sold lots to customers, who then contracted with an architect or builder to construct the home on the lot. For example, Floyd Medlock's strategy in Medlock place was the exception, and his methods at South Medlock were the rule. Post-war economic prosperity and the low down payments required by the FHA loan program resulted in real estate organizations undertaking both the purchase of the lot and the building of the home on the speculation that there would be a buyer ready to purchase the home immediately. This type of situation could only occur where large amounts of capital were available with a relatively high and immediate return on the investment.

South Orangewood, Orangewood Estates, and Aldrich Place are representative of this speculative housing market. For example, in Phoenix City Directories between 1945 and 1955, dozens of homes are listed without owners, as vacant, or under construction. The heightened demand for housing in the area, coupled with FHA standards, also influenced the Ranch style construction prevalent in the three neighborhoods.


Residential Architectural Styles and Building Technology in Phoenix, 1900-1956

Broadly speaking, the architectural styles used in home construction in Phoenix during the 20th Century have been strongly influenced by the fashions of the day. From the turn of the 20th century to World War I, the Bungalow Style or variants of it were employed for most middle-class residences in Phoenix. After the war (1917-18) American soldiers returned to the U.S. with a broader perspective on world architecture, and the public began to ask that their homes be built with reference to the old-world styles they had seen - in Phoenix most particularly the Tudor Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival styles. While Bungalows continued to be built, they acquired certain aspects of the newer. Period Revival styles as they gradually were phased out, becoming largely extinct by the Great Depression (1929). All residential building in Phoenix ground to a complete halt after the stock market crash of 1929 and then gradually picked back up as the country fought its way out of the Depression. These years were, not surprisingly, marked by a reduction in house sizes, simplification of details and the growth of cheaper construction technologies such as slab-on-grade foundation systems. This period also saw the rise of the California Ranch house, as the Period Revival lost favor. Homebuilding slowed once again on the entrance of the U.S. to World War II in 1941. The few homes built during the war continued to be relatively simple in design, and the rise in popularity of the Ranch House continued. The California Ranch rose into full bloom following the war, as the demand for cheap housing and the availability of VA and FHA loans drove the greatest residential expansion that had ever been seen in Phoenix. Mass-production techniques were applied to Ranch House subdivisions, in a pattern of development that is still seen in today's suburban tracts.


The Bungalow Style

The Bungalow Style rose to national prominence following the turn of the 20th Century. Architects such as Greene & Greene and Bernard Maybeck in California led a school of designers that developed the Bungalow style following the precepts of the arts-and-crafts movement. The style emphasized the use of natural materials used in ways that expose their unique characteristics while reducing non-structural ornament to a minimum. As has always been true of most design trends. Phoenix adopted most of its stylistic cues from southern California architecture, and soon most of the homes being built in Phoenix were California Bungalows.

Typical features of the Bungalow Style include single story massing with large, covered front porches; multiple gabled roofs of medium to low pitch with broad eaves and exposed, sometimes decoratively cut rafter tails; the use of massive piers, often tapered, to support porch roofs; and often the use of rustic materials for wall sheathing such as wood shingles, cobblestones, clinker brick, and pebble-dashed stucco. In Phoenix, climatic conditions also dictated the inclusion of one or more sleeping porches, screened outdoor rooms that were positioned to catch what cooling breezes might be available on a hot summer night.

After World War I, Bungalows began a ten-year decline in popularity as the newer Period Revival styles gained favor. Many Bungalows of this period began to assume characteristics of Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, or other Period Revival detailing. For example, roofs on late Bungalows often incorporated jerkinhead gables, an English Cottage feature intended to imitate thatched forms, or half-timbering in the gables, borrowed from the Tudor Revival. Floor plans gained similarity to the newer Period Revival plans.

Development of the Medlock Historic District began at the end of the Bungalow's popularity, and only a handful of seven late Bungalows is found. The best intact example is found at 38 W. Colter [MP-MP-3]. This home has a simple rectangular plan with a centered front porch. The roof is a jerkinhead gable with exposed rafters and outrigger beams. The walls are exposed brick and the porch is supported on two square brick piers. The other examples in the neighborhood have additions or minor alterations, but most retain adequate detail to recognize the style.

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Period Revival Styles

Period Revival homes became wildly popular in the 1920s throughout the nation. The architectural and popular press emphasized implied status of the Period Revival home, a type suited for the increasingly smaller lots available in the suburbs. Post World War I economic prosperity made the revival types, with their costly ornamentation and labor-intensive details, possible for the average home builder. During the Great Depression, government programs, such as the Federal Housing Administration, required standardized construction methods that were easily adapted to Period Revival style architecture. Newspaper advertisements often promoted the popular housing type as an elegant luxurious "country home," while also making FHA terms available and explicit.

Phoenix boosters often published detailed accounts of new construction efforts, emphasizing the quality and expense of techniques used in revival homes, along with the rapid construction of the new suburban neighborhoods. The Arizona Republican regularly featured developers and builders in its pages, and published the illustrated Book of Beautiful Homes.

The Period Revival era includes a number of variants, but most in the Medlock Historic District fall into the English or Spanish modes. Represented within the District are English Cottage Revival, English Tudor Revival, Mediterranean Revival, Pueblo Revival, Southwest Style, Spanish Colonial Revival, and (American) Colonial Revival. Characteristics common to Period Revival homes include the use of decorative ornamentation, materials, and roof forms to evoke the architecture of another time and place; and floor plans usually incorporating an open front terrace, often enclosed on two or three sides by the walls of the home, in place of the earlier covered porch.

• The English Tudor Revival style is marked by high pitched gables, usually front-facing, and stylistic details such as half-timbering in the gables, arched entryways, arcaded wing walls, and sweeping eaves.

• The English Cottage Revival style features a medium pitched roof with forms to imitate or emulate a thatched roof, such as jerkinhead gables, rolled eaves, eyebrow dormers, or the like. Its walls may include half timbering or enhanced wood lintels.

• Spanish Colonial Revival homes employ forms and details to evoke early Spanish architecture in the new world. Roofs are usually gabled, with tile roofs, and walls are stuccoed. Other details may include round arched openings, arcaded wing walls, and a combination of flat roofs and pitched roofs.

• Pueblo Revival homes emulate the features of the American Pueblo Indians. The style was first popularized in New Mexico and was informally adopted as their "State Style". Pueblo Revival homes have flat roofs surrounded by parapets, stuccoed wall surfaces, and decorative details such as log ends protruding from the wall surface (vigas), heavy timber or log posts supporting porch roofs, expressed wooden lintels over openings, and carved post caps (zapatas).

• Mediterranean Revival architecture represents a blend of elements from buildings found bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Wall surfaces are stuccoed, and roofs are tiled. There is generally little or no overhang at the eaves. Decorative ornamentation and typical stylistic details include arched openings, twisted columns, hipped roofs, turrets or towers, and irregular massing.

• The Southwest Style is a blend of Spanish Colonial and Pueblo elements. Wall surfaces are stuccoed, and the roof has predominantly flat roofed forms with occasional tile accents as awnings, porch roofs, or parapet caps. Porch and door openings have arched details.

• American Colonial Revival homes are patterned after the Georgian Revival homes built by America's early settlers, predominantly in the Northeast. Examples are one or two stories, and generally have a rectangular or L-shaped plan with a symmetrical facade with side facing gable roof, emphasized central entry flanked by pairs of evenly spaced widows. This style is rare in Phoenix, and only one example occurs in the Medlock Historic District.

Medlock Place and South Medlock Place contain mostly English and Spanish Colonial Revival homes built by Floyd Medlock's cadre of builders. Medlock built the homes in Medlock Place on speculation, and his efforts were very successful. Medlock's advertising strategy included the appeal of the suburban "country estate," exemplified by the charming cottage exterior, while also promoting modern conveniences such as electric light switches and modern kitchen appliances.


Ranch-style House

After the Second World War, the marriage rate skyrocketed, followed shortly thereafter by the baby boom. The heightened demand for housing, an unprecedented mechanism for funding housing development and financial incentives for home ownership promoted the dramatic urban and suburban growth characterized in the post-war period. Suburban growth was a result of these demands, coupled with the use of the automobile for family commuting. The Ranch-style home is a reflection of both of these themes; a building type that was quickly and inexpensively constructed, and which emphasized the increasing status of the automobile.

The Ranch Era (1935-1960) departed from earlier architectural periods in many respects. Speculative housing development became more popular nationally and in the Phoenix area. Construction styles reflected the immediate demand for housing combined with technological innovations available during the post-war period. Ranch style architecture did not require a basement or sub-floor foundation, rather, builders footed the house on a concrete slab. This revolution in design speeded construction and was cost-efficient. Construction materials included traditional wood frame or brick, and often incorporated the new building technology of the slump block or concrete block wall.

Ranch-style designs emphasized the status of the homeowner by highlighting the length of the building across the lot, and with the facade directly facing the street. Moreover, the role of the automobile was enshrined in Ranch-style construction, with one- or two-car carports extending the linear of the house even further across the lot. This design emphasized vehicle ownership to passer-by, and reiterated the suburban reliance upon the automobile. This feature characterizes the Ranch Era as a period in which family transportation shifted significantly from city-based mass transit to a necessary self-reliance upon the automobile for transportation in the far-flung suburb. As one humorist noted, motherhood on wheels defined a woman's life in the suburbs: moms delivered children obstetrically first and by car forever after.

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Bibliography

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Arizona State Business Directories 1920-1955

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