Fraser Fields Historic District
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places: February
The Fraser Fields Local Historic
District is significant under the National Register Criterion A, in
the area of Community Planning and development, for its relationship
to broad patterns of community development in Mesa, especially with
respect to postwar subdivision development, and Criterion C for its
architectural styles. Fraser Fields is a superb example of
post WWII custom ranch development. The quality and
craftsmanship of the houses, the variety of architectural styles
(there was no single builder), broad facades, large steel casement
windows with either diamond shaped or square panes, expansive and
immaculate lawns, and materials ranging from painted CMU to fired
adobe. The California Ranch has influence here, e.g.,
board-n-batten sheathing, exposed rafter tails and shake roofs.
It is a well-preserved, upper middle-income ranch style
Reflecting the ever-growing importance
of the automobile, most houses have attached or semi-attached double
garages. Fraser Fields represents the first major subdivision
in Mesa that reflected a growing trend for affluent and middle-class
Americans to begin migrating from the city center out into the rural
edges of the city in a response to heavy marketing regarding such
subdivisions' "exclusivity". This pattern repeated in the
ensuing growth and sprawl represented in many western cities of the
decades following WWII.
Fraser Fields is an enclave of well-preserved large lots and ranch
homes atypical of later tract-style developments. Though well
kept, it is threatened by commercial development on all four
sides—much of which has deteriorated over the last 20 years.
Still, the neighborhood is very intact from a visual and historic
perspective. The neighborhood has an active and cohesive group
of residents, many of whom are active in city politics and
contribute to public policy making.
Fraser Fields is still home to many of
the original families with names that are recognizable in Mesa civic
and community life of the last 50 years. Many of the residents
are prominent business members including the Milanos (Milano’s
Music), the Brintons developed funding to create the Park of the
Canals Archeological Park), the Lines brothers (a prominent dentist
and the former chief financial officer for the City of Mesa), the
Passeys (Passey Investment Corporation and Passey Insurance), and
Dr. Edwin Kepple (James Kepple is a Maricopa County Superior Court
Fields was originally a plot of land purchased by Hyrum Smith Phelps
in the early 1900s for $80 and a mare. He built the first
house for one of his wives, Sara Lucretia Pomeroy, an adobe
structure that stood where the restaurant "Bill Johnson’s Big Apple"
is currently located. Hyrum later sold the land to Dr. Jack
Fraser who built a house on 4th Street (University).
Jack Fraser later sold the land to Passey Investment Corporation,
which subdivided the land in 1946 and named the subdivision Fraser
Lots were heavily advertised in the
Mesa Journal Tribune starting in 1947 and Fraser Fields was called
"Mesa’s Most Exclusive Subdivision." The 80-acre subdivision
was located 3/4 of a mile outside of the original square mile of
Mesa. Each lot was at least 2/3 of an acre (nearly double the
average city lot in town) and was sold for between $800 and $2000.
Lots had at least 100 feet of street frontage and were 128 feet
long. They featured 60-cycle electricity, city water and gas,
paved streets and underground irrigation. Advertisements
featured 3-digit telephone numbers for readers to call for more
In 1948 the Mesa Jaycees convinced Passey
Investment Company to donate one of the lots in Fraser Fields on
which they built a $12,000 fully furnished home that was raffled off
as a publicity stunt to bring attention to the subdivision.
Tickets were sold for $5.00 each and for the entire preceding year
other publicity stunts were conducted. One such stunt called
the "walking lady" announced in the Mesa Journal Tribune encouraged
people to walk Main Street between Center Street and Chandler Road
(Country Club Drive) between 2:00 pm and 5:00 p.m. to find the
"walking lady." If she was spotted, the lucky person was told
to ask her "Pardon me, are you the Rawhide City's walking lady?"
whereupon she would give you a book of 25 "Dream House Tickets."
Rawhide Roundup was a major attraction of the 1940s and 1950s
conducted every year in Mesa by the Jaycees, where Main Street Mesa
was turned into a western town with entertainment, rides, and
In April of 1948 Mrs. Irene Van Kirk, a
widow and mother of two children, won the dream house during the
drawing at Rawhide Roundup.
7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., M - TH
Closed Fridays & Holidays
55 N. Center St.
Mesa, AZ 85201
PO Box 1466
Mesa, AZ 85211