TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Pima County is now the home to two new historic landmarks, thanks to a vote earlier this week by the Pima County Board of Supervisors - Ferguson House and Harrenstein House.
Hacienda Del Bosquito, also known as the 1936 Josias Joesler Ferguson House or Desert Treasures, was once an orange grove property, while the Harrenstein House is a modernist home with a distinctive thin-shell concrete roof of intersecting hyperbolic paraboloids designed and built for his family by structural engineer Dr. Howard Harrenstein.
"These first County Historic Landmarks are important examples of our region's diverse and unique heritage and embody the stories of community." said Demion Clinco, Executive Director of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation who prepared the historic landmark and rezoning applications, said in the recent news release. "These designations permanently protect these properties for future generations and ensure they will remain active part of the county for years to come."
For the last year the Pima County Development Services and Cultural Resources & Historic Preservation Division has worked in partnership with the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation to update the County Zoning Code to allow property owners to pursue Historic Landmark designation of historic sites, buildings or structures, human-made landscapes or spaces, which are individually listed or individually determined to be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places at the local, state, or national level of significance and meet one or more county criteria.
"Both buildings reflect distinctive periods of Tucson’s history and are outstanding and important examples of our community’s architectural identity," said Dr. Michael Fassett, Board President of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation.
The Ferguson House - Hacienda Del Bosquito / Desert Treasures was designed by renowned architect Josias Joesler in March 1936 and built by the John W. Murphey-Leo. B. Keith Building Company for Rev. and Mrs. George W. Ferguson who were involved and supported the construction and development of St. Philip's in the Hills and the Hacienda del Sol . This house, guest house, gardens and orchard are significant within the area of architecture as an example of Joesler’s Regional Eclectic style. Joesler’s Regional Eclectic style is noted for “experimentation with the blending of Spanish Colonial Revival and Pueblo Revival styles, as well as the influence of Mexican art and architecture. These residences were generally placed on larger lots within subdivisions featuring curvilinear street patterns ultimately designed to attract wealthy clientele to Tucson.”
The property was built between 1936 and 1937. The house sits amidst a dense grove of citrus trees and date palms, and is comprised of main residence (1936) a guest house (1937) a swimming pool, cabana, a caretaker’s house for the orchard foreman, and a greenhouse added by current owner all situated on 4.2 acres of fruit orchards (citrus and dates) that are still productive and privately maintained. The main house is constructed of adobe masonry with a stucco covering. The skillful placement of the house within the densely vegetated landscape creates a sense of seclusion while maintaining mountain views. The resulting effect of the lush landscape and and distinctive elevations is a romantic rambling residence. The property and site are an exceptional example of Joesler’s work.
The Harrenstein House, built in 1962-63, is a rare example of a thin-shell concrete single-family residential building utilizing intersecting hyperbolic paraboloids. The experimental design of the house utilized three intersecting hyperbolic surfaces to create a highly distinctive form. During and after construction, it was recognized locally for its innovation. The Tucson Daily Citizen Homes, a weekly newspaper magazine, featured the house on its cover on Saturday June 11, 1966. Mary Brown, the Citizen Homes Editor, wrote the feature detailing the development and design of the distinctive property. Because of the site location in a densely vegetated desert lot, the house was obscured from view and the unique architectural expression forgotten until it was rediscovered by the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation and featured as part of Tucson
Modernism Week in 2016. Although there are other examples of hyperbolic paraboloid structures in Tucson this is the most expensive known residential design. The house is an outstanding example of the Expressionist subtype of Architecture of the Modern Movement in Tucson. The house was designed and built by Dr. Howard Paul Harrenstein, an engineering professor at the University of Arizona. Harrenstein was an expert and consultant in bomb shelter design and embedded his expertise in civic-defense into the architecture of the house. Not only was the house conceived to survive an attack, Harrenstein nested a bomb shelter underneath the center of the home. The house is not only an outstanding example of expressive modern architecture but a physical articulation of the Atomic Age.
More information on these and other projects are available at www.preservetucson.org.
The Pima County Historic Landmark designation is intended to ensure the preservation of significant historic and archaeological resources, and to keep them in active use or management in their historic appearance, settings, and locations; it is a zoning overlay that proactively places restrictions on the property that protect it and require approval from mayor and council for future demolition