Until the 1920’s, the area that would become Earll Place remained cultivated for agriculture. This area was situated between the Creighton District and the Osborn District, two mini farm districts that utilized water coming from the nearby Grand Canal. Roosevelt Damn’s completion in 1911 brought a dependable source of water to Phoenix and instigated a population boom. This in turn prompted some small owners to subdivide their holdings into smaller residential lots. Phoenix’s population growth slowed substantially in 1914 at the onset of World War I, but increased sharply after the war.
In the 1920’s, 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 outside the city, landowners platted 36 new subdivisions in the six months leading up to March 1927. This expansion included farm lands to the north and east of the city. E. A. Earll subdivided his land north of Thomas Road and east of 16th Street in February of 1927.
E. A. Earll offered bare lots for sale and also built several houses on speculation. The first house offered for sale was an English Tudor-style residence Earll built at 1626 E. Pinchot. By early March 1927, Earll’s builder, George McGinnis, started construction on three more Tudor Revival and Bungalow brick homes. The large lots, all measuring a quarter or third of an acre had soft water pumped to the site. Earll invested in several improvements, including graded gravel roads, service alleys, and electricity available at the “low suburban rate.” Children in the district could use the Creighton school district bus.
In February, Earll offered the quarter-acre tracts for $350 and the third-acre lots for $385. The homes had many modern conveniences: “wonderful kitchen, containing Lasto sink, Hotpoint automatic range, electric water heater, breakfast nook, etc. Just the place for the discriminating housewife.” A buyer could have this home for $4,750, or a smaller but similar one at 1681 E. Earll Drive for just $3,900. Homeowners could enjoy “city conveniences and no city taxes.” By February 1928, Earll had invested $75,000 worth of improvements in the subdivision, and had sold two homes that he had built on speculation.
Property values in the suburbs northeast of town had risen significantly after the Biltmore interests announced their plans to build the new two million dollar Biltmore Hotel near Squaw Peak. By March 25, 1928, Earll had increased lot prices to $395 and up for 50 x 175 lots and $500 for 65 x 175 lots, but he did offer 5% off for cash payment. Builder C. W. Harvey bought a few Earll Place lots as investments and built the Spanish Stucco Bungalow on the double lot at 1642 E. Pinchot on speculation, after moving into his own home at 1636 E. Pinchot. By 1930, Earll had sold all of the lots in Earll Place, although four homes built on speculation remained vacant until 1931.
Earll capitalized on the growing popularity of the automobile as a lifestyle necessity of the new suburbanite. Earll assumed his customers would be driving to see Earll Place and would need garage space when they moved there. Most of his homes included detached one- or two-car garages. As the Phoenix streetcar system ultimately failed, it is just as well that Earll Place residents had so enthusiastically embraced automobile culture.
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 1930’s helped many people in need, and established government guidelines and procedures that endured through the twentieth century. However, most of the homes built in Earll Place reflect the style and unique characteristics of the Period Revival and Bungalow styles of the pre-FHA era of building.
Architecture In Earll Place Historic District
Earll Place contains mostly English Tudor, Bungalow and Spanish Colonial Revival homes built by E. A. Earll’s builders. George McGinnis built most of the English Tudor and Bungalow homes in the neighborhood, and contractor C. W. Harvey built Spanish revival homes on speculation. Earll’s speculative efforts were very successful, as all of his homes sold within four years, even during the early years of the Great Depression. Earll’s advertising strategy included the appeal of the suburban “country estate,” exemplified by the charming cottage exterior and custom wood interior details, while also promoting modern conveniences such as electric light switches and modern kitchen appliances.
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. Development of the Earll Place Historic District began at the end of the bungalow’s popularity, and only 13 of the district’s 42 homes were bungalows.
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. Twelve of the homes in Earll Place employed the English Tudor Revival style.
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, arched wing walls, and a combination of flat roofs and pitched roofs. There are two Spanish Colonial Revival homes in Earll Place.
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. Six homes in Earll Place are categorized as Southwest Style.
Historical Information provided courtesy:
Historic Preservation Office of the City of Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department
200 West Washington Street Phoenix, Arizona 85003 (602) 261-8699