Saturday, July 16, 2011

Round Robin: A Tale of Two Buildings

The title of this week's Round Robin Photo Challenge, "Something Old, Something New," is self-explanatory, but I'll explain anyway. The idea (first suggested by Ruth, the ScrabbleQueen) is to show old and new examples of the same basic thing. My old and new things are buildings, two blocks apart on Broadway Blvd in downtown Tucson.

This is the Charles O Brown House, reputedly the second oldest building in Tucson. Another source lists it as the very oldest, dating to 1840. Brown purchased the small adobe house in 1868, and expanded it at least twice over the next two decades. Its rival in Tucson's pre-Gadsden Purchase, very-old-homes derby is La Casa Cordova (circa 1848), which is now part of the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block.

The house in 2007, the day I first noticed its existence.

I first found out about the Charles O Brown House while on a stroll downtown when I had jury duty in 2007. For the past several months I've been driving past it nearly every day on my way home from work. That ended today, at least for the time being: I've just been laid off today from my non-church job in Marana. I'm not going to write about the layoff, except to say I hope to work there again eventually.

But I digress.

Until very recently, this mid 19th-century blend of Mexican and Victorian architectural styles was leased out by the Arizona Historical Society for $1 a year to a company that was supposed to help restore it. They didn't, and the adobe walls are in sorry shape, which threatens the building's structural integrity. If you look back at my photos of Fort Lowell from 2009, you can see what time and water do to adobe unless it's cared for: it wears away and crumbles back into the earth from which it was made. Even in my drive-by photo above, you can see the patched, unpainted stretch of wall on the west side of the building, and the rotting wood above the door. Now that the neglectful tenant that was supposed to manage the property is no longer in the picture, let's hope that something will be done to preserve this historic old building.

This is the newest building in downtown Tucson, more or less, so new they haven't finished building it yet! (The scheduled completion date is this December.) It's to be the new headquarters of UniSource Energy, the parent company of Tucson Electric Power. The current UniSourse HQ is the Unisource Energy Tower, one of the tallest buildings in Tucson and located even closer to the COB House.

The really neat thing about this building, aside from the unique asymmetrical design, is that it's designed to be very green in the ecological sense, and energy efficient. The nine story, 170,000 square foot building is to have solar panels built into its south and east walls, according to the initial press release from last year, and the design is meant to minimize exposure to the brutal Tucson sunshine. Its garage will include electrical vehicle charging stations.

Here's an earlier shot, taken back in May:

The not-so-great thing about this building is that it's on the site of the historic Santa Rita Hotel, which was torn down a couple of years ago. Well, not exactly. The 1904 hotel was torn down in 1973, and replaced with another hotel of the same name that lacked the beauty or historic significance of the original. If you Google images for "Santa Rita Hotel Tucson," you'll find some really striking pictures of what Tucson lost long ago. May we do better with the Charles O Brown House!


Now let's see what old and new things the other Robins have to show us!

Linking List
as of midnight MST

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Day One

Jama - Posted!
Sweet Memories

The Smile Spot :)

Jenn Jilks - Posted!
Cottage Country

1 comment:

Jama said...

We have lots of skyscrappers here, due to land constrain there's no other way to expend except going upwards. Most new buildings have a few level underground too, for carparks, shops, or even for the subway.I like the angle of the second photo.