Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in July 5, 1999
The Evergreen Historic District consists of subdivisions that were platted beyond the original town site of Mesa. This process of subdivision outside the original town site was an important factor in the expansion of Mesa. This was a significant change in the community development of Mesa and the Evergreen Historic District is importantly associated with the process. This evolution is based on the local and national economic trends described in the historical overview.
The Evergreen Historic District is significant for its association with the development of a cohesive neighborhood of middle and upper class families in Mesa from 1910 to 1948. Most of the buildings in the historic district were built between 1910 and 1948 within two subdivisions that encompass most of the Evergreen Historic District.
The two subdivisions are the North Evergreen Subdivision, platted in 1910, and the Vista Garden Subdivision, platted in 1947. Additional homes were built outside or organized subdivisions in the Evergreen Historic District on lots created from larger parcels of land.
In 1910 Edwin M. LeBaron and James Miller, Jr., platted the North Evergreen subdivision. LeBaron and Miller were the proprietors of the Arizona Land Company which specialized in land speculation. Edwin M. LeBaron platted one other subdivision in Mesa in 1910, the LeBaron Addition to Mesa city. His brother, W.J. LeBaron, platted an additional subdivision in 1920.
LeBaron and Miller converted forty acres of agricultural land north of Mesa into eight blocks, each containing twenty-four lots. Two parallel streets served the lots, Michigan and Grand Streets. Grand Street formed the eastern boundary of the subdivision. The numbered cross street followed the numbering pattern established in Mesa starting with Lewis Street (later Fourth Street then University), then 5th, 6th, and 7th Streets to the north.
To sell the lots, LeBaron and Miller held two auctions, the second of which was announced with a large advertisement in the Arizona Republican newspaper of Phoenix. The developers called it a "beautiful new addition" to the town of Mesa. The ad copy emphasized graded street, water and gas connections, and the surrounding agricultural land which gave the subdivision a "natural park" setting. Another advantage cited by the developers was the suburban location which freed the property owners from city taxes.
LeBaron and Miller had the intention of creating an exclusive residential subdivision. To accomplish this, the developers reinforced the exclusivity of the subdivision through deed restrictions. Restrictions that applied to buildings included 30-foot setbacks, and minimum home costs of from $1,000 to $1,500. Uses such as saloons, blacksmiths, stables, and stores were prohibited. The deed restrictions applied to property owners as well. LeBaron and Miller noted "only white Americans can own lots in this addition."
A companion subdivision, Evergreen Acres, was also surveyed and platted in 1910 by LeBaron and Miller. This subdivision was located about one block north of the northern boundary of North Evergreen. The lots in Evergreen Acres were larger than those in North Evergreen. This subdivision, outside of boundary of the Evergreen District, was subsequently re-subdivided into smaller lots by later purchase and has thus lost much of its historic character.
From 1910 to 1914 a number of houses were constructed in the North Evergreen subdivision. The activity was spurred by actions of the developers which included the installation of electric and telephone lines in the alleys laying of concrete sidewalks, and planting of Arizona cypress trees between the curbs and sidewalks.
The growth of North Evergreen during World War One was slowed as promoter Edwin LeBaron took time off to serve his country in the military. Upon his return, LeBaron associated himself with Clarence M. Paddock, a homebuilder. Paddock constructed several houses in the subdivision on speculation. LeBaron resumed his advertising blitz, again promoting North Evergreen as "Mesa's only restricted district...restricted as to race and color." The new partners increased the minimum house cost to $4,000. The advertising campaign and construction of houses on speculation generated a renewed interest in the subdivision.
Over the next few decades additional houses were constructed in the North Evergreen subdivision as Mesa passed through cycles of economic growth and depression. The neighborhood west of Grand Avenue gradually became in-filled with additional housing stock. With the exception of two homes on the east side of Grand, at 535 and 565 N. Grand Street (#121 & 123), and three houses on the north side of W. University (formerly Lewis Street), the area east of Grand Street remained undeveloped until after World War Two.
The subdivision of Val Vista Manor No. 2 spurred a second cycle of growth in the Evergreen Historic District. The subdivision was surveyed in 1946 by engineer F.N. Holmquist. It was platted and recorded in 1947 by A.H. and Madge Stone, who owned a large parcel of undeveloped land area. Mr. and Mrs. Stone were not professional real estate speculators, but simply the owners of a large parcel of land who wanted the property divided and sold to realize a profit.
The Stone's excursion into real estate was not without its difficulties. Because the name they selected for their subdivision was very similar to the name of another Mesa subdivision, Val Vista Manor Plat 2, Mesa City officials and Maricopa County officials objected to the proposed name. The Stones solicited the Phoenix Title & Trust Company for advice. Phoenix Title & Trust subsequently changed the name of the subdivision to Vista Gardens. Vista Gardens consisted of fairly large lots, measuring 66 feet wide by 147 feet long. Vista Drive, 50 feet wide, extended east from Grand Street down the center of the subdivision. Vista Drive is now known as west 7th Place.
The Subdivision of Vista Gardens encouraged a number of other property owners in the area east of Grand Street to divide their property into smaller parcels for sale. This area does not appear to have a formal subdivision plat, but is rather the result of lot splits. A cohesive neighborhood of post-war ranch homes quickly developed in the area south of Vista Gardens and east of Grand Street in the years following World War Two.
The nature of these two subdivisions color the appearance of the Evergreen Historic District. Those in the original North Evergreen subdivision are the oldest houses. These represent the first extension of Mesa outside its town boundary line. The Vista Gardens subdivision, platted after the end of the World War Two, represents the era of rapid construction and population expansion that characterized Mesa after the war.
The Evergreen Historic District is a good example of the process twentieth century suburban development in Mesa. This change was an important part of the community of Mesa as residents required more housing than the original plan could provide. The Evergreen Historic District is an excellent example of the process of community development which changed Mesa from a pastoral, agricultural community to more closely match the growing urban populations of Phoenix, Glendale, and Tempe.
The character-defining elements for the National Folk/Vernacular style is the lack of decorative ornamentation or details.
A great number of the homes in the Evergreen Historic District fall under the architectural style---Bungalow. This style of architecture, originating in California in the early 1900's, was popular in Mesa from 1910-1940. Characteristics of the Bungalow style include single story simple, box-like massing with medium-pitched hipped or gabled roofs. Large front porches and symmetrical facades with pairs of double-hung windows are also character-defining elements of style. The Bungalow style is subdivided into three substyles contains the primary characteristics, i.e., gabled roofs, deep overhangs, front porches, but differ in the detailing. The Craftsman Bungalow is far more ornate with exposed wood trim, especially heavy timber trusses, beams, brackets, and rafter tails. The porches are usually supported by massive masonry or stone piers. Front "Chicago" style windows, single picture window flanked by narrow double-hung windows, is also found in many Bungalows. The Classical Bungalow usually has an offset front porch wrapping around the house to create a porte-cochere. The windows many times will contain multiple planes in the upper lights. The Craftsman Bungalow is most represented within the Evergreen Historic District.
In the mid 1920's, a whole sequence of stylistic treatments drawing from large segments of the historical range of European housing styles, known as Period Revival styles began to crop up in the Mesa townsite. The first of these styles is the Tudor Revival style which stems from medieval English building traditions. The Tudor Revival style can be characterized by its rectangular or "L" shaped plans and very high-pitched roofs. The front facades are usually asymmetrical in layout. Small portals or vestibules are common rather than large front porches. The roofs are generally sheathed with wood or slate shingles. The roofs are generally sheathed with wood or slate shingles. The windows can be characterized as small-paned casements in flat-topped, Tudor, Gothic, or round-arched openings. A second Period Revival style found in the Mesa townsite is the Spanish Colonial Revival style. This style stems from an interest in the region's heritage, including its historic links to Spain, Mexico and indigenous American cultures. Characterized by its stucco walls and tile roofs, the Spanish Colonial Revival home is rectangular in plan, one to two stories in height with asymmetrical facades. The roof forms are often combinations of flat roofs with parapets and low-pitched gables. Small porches with arched openings and occasional pergolas or porte-cocheres can be found in this style. The tall double-hung or casement windows sometimes have small panes in the upper sashes. Occasionally the windows and doors appear within Roman or semi-circular arched openings. Typical ornamental features of the style include applied terra cotta, tile or cast concrete ornament, decorative iron trim for scones, grillwork, brackets, railings, balconets, and fences.
The Pueblo Revival style, derived from late 18th and early 19th century Southwest Pueblos of the Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico and northern Arizona, blended aspects of both Native American pueblos and early structures built by Spanish colonists in Mexico. Although a truly regional style, Pueblo Revival buildings were first introduced in California where actual pueblos were not built. Pueblo Revival style homes were constructed in Mesa during the late 1920's through the modern-era. Characteristics of the style include one story of combination one-two story buildings with irregular or rectangular plans. The low-horizontal, asymmetrical facades with rounded forms present an overall natural or organic feeling. The second story masses are usually stepped back from the front facade. Flat roofs are concealed behind irregular plastered parapets. Door and window openings are usually flat-topped with heavy timber lintels. The windows are small wood casements or double-hungs. The front doors are usually constructed of large wood planks. Decorative elements include exposed log roof beams (vigas), hewn timber beams, posts and lintels, and water scuppers (canales).
The last of the Revival styles found in the Evergreen Historic District is the Colonial Revival style. This style is typically the least popular of the Revival styles found in Mesa. As the name suggests, the decorative vocabulary of early America was used to dignify small homes. Homes of this style stem from residential architecture of New England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Characteristics of the homes found in Mesa include single story rectangular or L-shaped buildings with the long facade facing the street. The simple box-like massing has light colored walls of wood siding, stucco, wood shingles, or painted brick. The roofs are usually low-to-medium-pitched gable with the broadside facing the street. A gabled of flat shed roof porch is supported by wood posts. The door and openings are usually rectangular in shape to receive multi-pane over multi-pane double-hung windows.
In the mid-1930's, a new style loosely based on early Spanish Colonial buildings modified somewhat from earlier Period Revival style buildings, gained popularity in California. This style, the Ranch style of housing first appeared in Mesa in the mid-to-late 1930's, but became dominant during the years following World War II. Ranch style homes, the second most popular style in the district, reflect the resurgence of residential development in Mesa following the depression years. The Ranch style is characterized by one story, rectangular or L-shaped structures with low-pitched gable or hipped roofs. Small wood frame porches occur over the entry or at the juncture of the intersecting roofs. A variety of materials can be found with this style including brick masonry, painted or unpainted; stucco over wood frame; and concrete masonry units, painted or unpainted. The windows are usually steel casement or fixed with multiple lights. Occasionally, corner windows can be found. Decorative elements include horizontal wood siding at gable ends and occasionally wood shutters flanking windows.