On Thursday February 12th, Localists got to explore a behind-the-scenes sampling of some of Phoenix's coolest locations at "Timeless Phoenix:" Stockyards Original Steakhouse, the Pueblo Grande Museum, and Tovrea Castle. Not only did we get to go behind closed doors, but we got to meet some of the people that keep these locations dynamic and make them unique. Read on to see what we experienced, and find out why you must add these three Phoenix gems to your bucket list:
The first stop on our Localist tour was at the Stockyards Original Steakhouse. Localists were treated to quite the spread of appetizers to fortify them for the events ahead. Arriving at 5:30 to enjoy happy hour before the tour kicked off, we were excited to learn about the Stockyard's daily happy hour deal. Aside from the amazing offerings we had, we learned that if you show up during the regular happy hour, The Stockyards provides complimentary chips & salsa, and sliders!
We learned all about the history of the building, from E. A. Tovrea the original land owner and "Cattle Baron" of Phoenix, to his wife Helen's decorating styles. We were struck by the hand-painted antique murals that cover the walls with different scenes from beloved melodramas and favorite Tovrea family vacation spots. It is even thought that Katherine Patton artist of the murals painted herself into each scene, sometimes assuming the role of chamber maid, others as anonymous background park-goer. Before we knew it, it was time to board Ollie the Trolley and take the short trip over to the Pueblo Grande Museum.
Several of the Localists had never been to PGM, certainly none of us had seen the archives, but we were awe-struck by the ancient Maricopa Pottery that is currently off limits to the general public. We learned that Maricopa Pottery (made using heritage clays collected from the Phoenix area), was extremely difficult, due to the lack of moisture in the clay.
The docent at PGM had set out a cart of late 19th century Maricopa Pottery, to give us more context about the history of the pottery. She showed us some particularly showy examples, and we learned that pottery made with long necks or intricate coloring patterns was particularly hard to render in this medium. These were without a doubt certainly the "show off" pieces. Although that night we only got to tour the current exhibits and the archives, we left excited to return and tour the grounds and ancient structures that can be seen at Pueblo Grande Museum today.
Boarding Ollie the Trolley once again, we headed towards the Tovrea Castle, a Phoenix landmark that had enticed all of us for years. We pulled up to the gift shop that sits at the base of the castle, and were greeted by none other than Marie Carraro, grand daughter of the castle builder Alessio Carraro, who joined us on the tour. It was a surreal experience pulling up to the base of the castle, and seeing those lights up close. We got to tour the basement and the first floor (upper floors were closed for renovation), and learned so much about the history of the castle! The castle was built towards the end of the roaring twenties, and was originally intended to be a destination hotel (similar in time frame to the Biltmore and the Westward Ho).
However, the timing proved disastrous and necessitated a quick sale of the property to Della Tovrea, who lived there enjoying the sweeping desert views until a nightmarish night in her eighties. She was known for her beautiful collection of turquoise jewelry, and one evening two thieves broke into the estate. Rather than backing down, this true wild west woman (again, in her eighties!), fought back. The scuffle went through many rooms in the home, culminating in the discharging of a firearm in the kitchen where a bullet hole still exists in the ceiling. Della was eventually outmatched, and was left tied to a chair while the thieves escaped with her jewelry. After hours of wriggling, she managed to untie herself, and made her way down the hill that the castle stands on to call for help, navigating her way through the cactus garden by moon light. Eventually one of the thieves was apprehended, and many of her jewels were returned.
The evening culminated with a final roll call, and the handing out of Localist swag bags. It was a great way to start the Valentine's Day weekend, and a great way to celebrate Arizona's Statehood, and some truly original Localists. Since there was so much demand for this event, we will happily be offering "Timeless Phoenix" again to our Localists sometime in the future. Thanks to all who joined us on this special Localist outing! Want to get in on the fun? Make sure to sign up to be a Localist today!