Did You Know: The History Behind Tempe's Rose Eisendrath House

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
Published: Friday, December 4, 2015 - 2:50pm
Updated: Friday, December 4, 2015 - 4:35pm
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(Photo courtesy of Rio Salado Foundation and Tempe)
The Eisendrath House is now the Eisendrath Center for Water Conservation. Classes on water conservation will be help here for Tempe residents.

It was designed as a winter retreat in the early 1930s. Its owners were among the wealthy elites, until it was abandoned. Today, the property is among the most unique structures in the area, and it has been restored for the public.

Perched on a slope off College Avenue and near Curry Road in Tempe is an adobe structure. It’s been known for decades as the Eisendrath House — it was built during the Great Depression. Did you know the Eisendrath House was built after the owner was refused boarding because of her background?

“The Rose Eisendrath House, the complex that she had constructed in 1929 to 1930. This was her own private resort," said city of Tempe architect Mark Vinson during a recent tour of the 85 year-old home.

“As the story goes, she was not invited to stay at least at one of the local Valley resorts because of her Jewish background in those days," said Vinson.

Rose Eisendrath purchased more than 40 acres of land north of the Salt River in the area now known as Papago Park. She decided to build the home on a hill overlooking the Valley, mountains and the Sonoran Desert as far as the eyes could see.

“You can imagine the views in 1929, 1930 when there was nothing between here and the Superstition Mountains," Vinson said.

Materials were scarce during the Great Depression, so the home was constructed out of mud adobe blocks — materials actually gathered out of the Salt River nearby — among other resources.

“We’re looking at some of the original vigas in the ceiling and actually some of these were in fact many of them were actually recycled telephone or telegraph pole,” said Vinson.

He said many aspects of the building were strategically designed, like the rooms have multiple windows for ventilation. The house is a two-story adobe residence — a rare architectural design.

“Probably one of the best examples in the state of the Pueblo Revival style of architecture. The irregular massing, the use of exposed vigas to resemble pre-historical, Native American construction," Vinson said. "So, it’s probably one of the best and largest residential of that style in the whole state.”

Rose Eisendrath lived in the home until she died in 1936. The property has had many owners over the years. Modifications have been made to the property and most of the land has been sold.

In the early 2000s, Tempe acquired the remaining 9-acre property and the home — and boarded it up until recently.

“She used this for entertaining. She had many acquaintances and associates, and family members would come out. So, this was a lively place for the years that Rose was here," said Vinson.

And that’s the idea behind making the adobe home a place for the community. The property is now the Eisendrath Center for Water Conservation, where water sustainability education classes are held for city residents. It’s also a historical site for touring and a special events venue.

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