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Fraser Fields Historic District

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Listed on the National Register of Historic Places: February 3, 2010

FraserhouseMilanoThe  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 neighborhood.

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. 

Fraserhouse7Today 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 Judge).   

Fraser 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 Fields.

Fraserhouse10Lots 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 information.

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 activities.   

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.