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West Second Street Historic District

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Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in July 2, 1999

west2ndhouseWest Second Street Historic District is the oldest historic district in Mesa and has the most diverse architectural styles that any other district.

The West Second Street Historic District is bounded generally by North Robson Street on the west and North Center Street on the east and extends along West Second Street and portions of North Macdonald Street.  This historic district is significant for its architectural merits and its historic association with the evolution of Mesa's most prominent early 1900s middle and upper-class families.

Contribution to Environmental Awareness

The West Second Street Historic District is more than just a neighborhood of 50 historic properties.  It is a community representing the best of concerned and active Mesa residents.  They have challenged themselves not only with renovating beautiful homes which have been in existence since the beginning of Mesa history, but have tasked themselves with fostering neighborhood spirit, community pride and integrating the past with the present.  Beyond individual achievements in restoration/renovation, the West Second Street Historic District is involved with historic preservation throughout the City.

Many of its residents volunteer their time and talents to educate other members of the community about historic preservation issues and donate their talents to City staff and serve on the citizen boards of the City Council. In addition, on their own and with funds they generated, they developed the West Second Street Historic District Walking Tour Guide and made it available to the Arizona Museum of Natural History and the Mesa Public Library so visitors and residents alike can take a self-guided tour of this beautiful neighborhood.

In 1998, the West Second Street Historic District held its first-ever Home Tour, where, for a small admission price, the public was invited to visit the interiors of these beautiful homes. Discounts were offered to those who brought canned goods, which were donated to Queen of Peace Church. The funds raised were used to help defray the costs associated with the National Register nominations with the City contributing the remainder.

Preservation and Enhancement of Environmental Quality

Since 1984, the City of Mesa has commissioned several historic preservation surveys. Among the potential historic districts discovered through field review, research and analysis, clearly the West Second Street Historic district stood out on its own merits. Similarly, the individual efforts of several of the district's residents--be it their own restoration campaigns, or community activism--made it clear from the very beginning that they were committed to seeing their neighborhood come together whether or not formal historic status was ever granted.overview_of_w2nd_district_photo

In 1994 the City of Mesa placed an Historic Preservation Overlay District on the West Second Street area outlined above, largely because of the efforts of the neighborhood. Members of the community volunteered their time and efforts to ensure that all factual data to support the rezoning was available to City staff and the City Council. In addition, the City, recognizing this commitment, purchased and installed historic lighting throughout the district and is in the process of incorporating historic street signs.

Over the past four years, the district has formed a non-profit corporation, and combined its efforts once again to work with the City to get the district nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.

Conservation of Natural Resources

In this context, the residents of the West Second Street Historic District together with the City of Mesa have made it a priority to conserve the neighborhood landscaping which has been in their community for more than 100 years. The district contains several of the last remaining citrus-lined medians in existence in Mesa and some of the few remaining carob and china berry trees. The district, on several occasions, has been able to use its influence to control the destruction of trees that reach heights of 100 feet or more.

The conservation of building materials in this district is enormous. Where other areas of the State have seen unparalleled growth and ultimately the destruction of older dwellings, the West Second Street Historic District remains a relatively safe enclave of original town-site dwellings. This has resulted in quite literally a jewel in the downtown area. Individual investments in renovating these properties average about $200,000 of private investment per home. This is enormous commitment to conservation.

It is our belief that, together with individual achievements in renovation which are evident to the eye, the collective efforts and exhaustive energies of the residents of the West Second Street Historic District, and the City of Mesa, are evident to the heart. They symbolize the best of what it means to "place the good of the many" before "the good of the one," which is really what preservation of our environment is really all about.