March 2023

A partnership among Scottsdale Neighborhood College, Scottsdale Public Library and the Scottsdale Historical Society to provide information, news and resources about Scottsdale history.

Founders Day Report

Community Historian Joan Fudala welcomes the crowd to Founders Day 2023.

Scottsdale celebrated all things Winfield and Helen Scott at Founders Day on Feb. 24, in front of the Scottsdale Historical Museum, also known as the Little Red Schoolhouse. The day commemorated the 186 birthday of Winfield Scott and the opening of the Little Red Schoolhouse in 1910.  

The event was presented by the city of Scottsdale Office of Communication and Citizen Service, the Scottsdale Historical Society and the Daughters of the American Revolution Winfield Scott chapter to mark this occasion in the history of our community. 


Scottsdale Historical Society President Jason Song receives the proclamation from Mayor Ortega.

There were approximately 100 people in attendance and was hosted by community historian Joan Fudala. Scottsdale Mayor David D. Ortega read a proclamation of the event. Scottsdale Historical Society president Jason Song, a third generation Scottsdale resident, talked about Winfield Scott and the development of the community. Joan Fudala shared what the area would have looked like in 1910 when the schoolhouse opened. That was followed by a special guest "Winfield Scott." He shared lessons he learned fighting in the Union Army at the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. 

Scottsdale historian Don Hadder talks history with "Winfield Scott."

We missed Arizona state historian Marshall Trimble who was not able to attend. There was a card for everyone to sign to wish him well! 

Another great Founders Day celebration on the books, and we are looking forward to next year!


Scottsdale Historical Museum Reopens after three years!

Mayor Ortega and Councilwoman Solange Whitehead join SHS Board Executive Committee Jason Song, Cindi Eberhardt, Steve Randall, Bob Fowler, Roger Klingler and Eleanor Brierley to cut the ribbon.

On Feb. 1, the doors of the Scottsdale Historical Museum re-opened to the public for the first time since March 2020.  

The building closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and continued to be closed for renovations to the interior and exterior. Scottsdale recently completed a total re-design of the Civic Center, which included the area in front of the museum.   

The Scottsdale Historical Museum is located in the Little Red Schoolhouse, 7333 E. Scottsdale Mall. It was originally opened in 1910 as the second school in Scottsdale. After the Loloma School opened in October 1928, the Little Red Schoolhouse was renamed the Coronado School and used as a type of "head start" for children whose primary language wasn't English while they were in grades 1-3.

In 1951, the Little Red Schoolhouse was repurposed again as the Scottsdale government building, Town Marshall's office and county courthouse. Later, the town government outgrew the building, so it was repurposed again as the Scottsdale Public Library in the 1960s and then the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce building in 1972. 

In 1991, the building became the Scottsdale Historical Museum operated by the Scottsdale Historical Society. It's on the Scottsdale Historic Registry and the National Historic Registry. 

Want to help with preserving and sharing Scottsdale's history with tourists and fellow residents? Volunteer with the Scottsdale History Museum! You can volunteer for a two or four-hour shift. The museum is open Wednesday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays from noon-4 p.m. For more information about volunteering, contact Terry Erickson or call 480-560-3392. Learn about the Scottsdale Historical Society.

The cowboy sign on Scottsdale & Main Street restored!

Photo taken in the late 1950s.

In 1952, local sign-maker Dee Flagg created the cowboy sign on the northeast corner of Scottsdale and Main for the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce. Over the years, the iconic artwork has been repaired, repainted and replaced as needed. It gradually took on a different look from the original. 

Countless visitors to Scottsdale over the last 70 years have focused their camera lenses on this iconic sign. In the early days, it functioned as a message board telling residents or visitors about special events in the community.  

In 1956, the cowboy sign was copied and placed in 15 locations throughout the community to indicate the direction and mileage to Scottsdale. The signs were removed later because they violated Scottsdale's new (at that time) sign ordinance.  

This year, the cowboy sign was restored prior to the Historic Old Town ESPN Main Street Tailgate Feb. 8-12, just in time for the Superbowl festivities. Local artist Kayla Newnam was commissioned by Scottsdale Public Art to do the restoration. The results (shown below) are fantastic! The next time you're in Old Town, be sure to check out the restored cowboy.

This photo was taken on Feb. 8

Kiva Center now on National Register of Historic Places

The Kiva Center rededication ceremony Jan. 20.

On Jan. 20, the Kiva Craft Center at 7121-7125 E. Fifth Avenue was rededicated on the 67th anniversary of its opening! The celebration included the announcement that the Kiva Craft Center was now on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Originally opened on Jan. 20, 1956, by Native American artist and fashion designer Lloyd Kiva New along with several other local artisans, the Kiva Crafts Center was the cultural center of Scottsdale in the late-1950s and 1960s. The building was originally designed by architect T.S. "Tom" Montgomery who also became a tenant.  

The Kiva Crafts Center was an upgraded space from the artists' previous location, the Arizona Craft Center, which opened for business at the southwest corner of Main and Brown in February 1946 in the old general store. The four units housed eight shops. The building was lost to fire in April 1950. 

The new location on Fifth Avenue opened in November 1950. Kiva wanted to develop a courtyard on the south side of Fifth Avenue, and it officially opened in January 1956. It proved to be more than just an expanded retail space; it became the heart of the city's reputation as a luxury shopping destination. In its heyday from the 1950s to the 1970s, Fifth Avenue was a franchise-free zone of boutiques, cafes and galleries that drew residents and tourists alike for shopping, dining and to attend special events. 

There were several different craftsmen that worked all manners of leather, metals, fabrics, ceramics and perfume to make beautiful items for locals and visitors. Artists included Charles Loloma, Leona Caldwell, Erné and more. Lloyd Kiva also organized fashion shows on Fifth Avenue which put Scottsdale on the map in the fashion world. 

The Kiva Craft Center and its tenants were featured prominently in national publications such as Life Magazine (1956), Town & Country (1958), House Beautiful (1958), Saturday Evening Post (1960) and others. 

The Kiva Craft Center was purchased by Robert and Eleanor Simonson in 1972 and continues to be owned and managed by the family. Michael and Cindy Simonson started a rehabilitation project in the summer 2022, redesigning the courtyard to resemble the original courtyard and using the original paint colors. Michael's son Paul serves as Vice President. 

Restoration of the Kiva Craft Center was led by Scottsdale architect Douglas Sydnor and general contractor James Trahan of 180 Degrees-Commerical Inc. Community Historian Joan Fudala and architect Don Ryden were consultants on the project to ensure accuracy in the historic features and were key to preparing the nomination submission for the listing on the National Register of Historic Places.   

Special thanks to Joan Fudala for her contributions to this article. 

Scottsdale Library has three sports related events!

Two exciting events and a survey are coming to the Scottsdale Public Library in time for special events season:

Scottsdale hits it out of the park: a new exhibit at Civic Center Library called "Legends, All-Stars and Rogues" is now open in the Scottsdale Heritage Connection. Come see artifacts, memorabilia, and photos from Scottsdale's rich Spring Training history. Featured teams include the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Oakland A's and the San Francisco Giants.

Help select Scottsdale Baseball All-Stars
Who has earned the right to be an all-time Scottsdale All Star? Help us choose! Take the survey

The History of Golf in Scottsdale at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, March 13 at the Mustang Library, 10101 N. 90th St. Community historian Joan Fudala shares how golf has been part of the Scottsdale scene for more than 100 years. This is part of the Hometown Happy Hour series and light snacks will be available just before the program. 


Scottsdale Neighborhood College announces spring history classes

There is still time to register for these Neighborhood College local history presentations. 

'Til Death Do Us Part

6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 7, at the Community Design Studio, 7506 E. Indian School Road. Learn more about two local romances gone wrong. In 1962, a couple was murdered just north of Scottsdale, on county land, and the case was not solved for nine years. But did the police catch the real killer or was he framed? In the second case, a Scottsdale woman was spotted dumping part of her husband's body in Mesa. We will revisit the story of his death, which gripped the Valley more than 20 years ago. This is a repeat presentation that was postponed in the fall. Instructor: Bruce Wall, city of Scottsdale.

Scottsdale's Unlucky Sevens

6-8 p.m. on Monday, March 13, Community Design Studio, 7506 E. Indian School Road or 1-3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15, Mustang Library Auditorium, 10101 N. 90th St. Join us as we look back at some of the most unusual criminal stories in Scottsdale history, and they all happened in the same year. Stories include a tale of a collision that led to the family of the victim seeking longer sentences for vehicular homicide and a murdered man in a contract-for-hire case that had more curve balls than a spring training game! Finally, we'll look at a case of a fallen hero who met his end in Scottsdale. This is a new presentation. Instructor: Bruce Wall, city of Scottsdale.


Famous alumnus

As a freshman, this alumnus of a Scottsdale school attended the first year his high school opened. He went on to have a brilliant career and it can be said that he "built" Scottsdale one building at a time. He is also a historian of the buildings and architects who built Scottsdale and the Valley. Here's an extra clue, he's already been mentioned in this newsletter for taking part in a renovation of a nationally recognized building from the 1950s. 

Scroll down to find out who this famous Alumnus is.

Photo credit: U.S. school yearbooks.


Renovations of the Civic Center past and present

In celebration of the renovation of Scottsdale Civic Center and in anticipation of the full Civic Center reopening, Scottsdale Heritage Connection at Scottsdale Public Library is featuring a digital collection of photos of the Civic Center dedication and expansion improvements in the 1980s, as well as photos from the Civic Center history.

Construction of the Civic Center was an initiative of the Scottsdale Town Enrichment Programs (STEP) for 1964-1965 and was bond funded. Completed in phases, the first phase on the east side was dedicated in 1968. The west side was completed in 1974, and the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts was completed in 1975. The park area was extended in 1985 and dedicated in 1986. Another large renovation project took place in 1997, and the latest upgrades began in 2021. The western two thirds of the Scottsdale Civic Center opened in January, just in time for Scottsdale Super Season. We cannot wait to start making more history and memories at the Scottsdale Civic Center starting this spring!

To browse the digital photo collection, search Civic Center Mall Scottsdale Heritage Connection in the library catalog. 

Photo courtesy of the Scottsdale Public Library.

How the streets got their names: Drinkwater Blvd

Drinkwater Boulevard was originally called Civic Center Boulevard. It was renamed in honor of Scottsdale's beloved former mayor, Herb Drinkwater.

Herb Drinkwater was born in Batavia, New York on Dec. 28, 1936. A doctor told his parents that he needed to move to a warm, dry climate due to his asthma and rheumatic fever. Herb's father was a teacher who got a job in Phoenix teaching at North High School. The family first moved to 6th Avenue and Van Buren but eventually purchased a home at Scottsdale and Shea. 

Herb was part of the Scottsdale Town Enrichment Program (STEP) since 1964 and served on the city's Design and Review Committee. He was elected to the city council, serving from in 1970-1978 and ran for Mayor when Bill Jenkins retired in 1980. Herb was elected mayor that year and stepped down from the position in 1996. 

As Mayor, Herb was a constant promoter of Scottsdale and recruiter of unique businesses. Some of his accomplishments as mayor were:

  • The Indian Bend Wash, dedicated in 1986.
  • Tournament Players Club, opened in Scottsdale in 1986.
  • The Mayo Clinic chose Scottsdale for its new campus in 1987.
  • The McDowell Sonoran Preserve was created in 1994.
  • The Little Red Schoolhouse was dedicated as the Scottsdale Historical Museum in 1992.
  • The Scottsdale Stadium bond renovation accomplished in 1992. 
  • Nordstom's opened its first Arizona store at Scottsdale Fashion Square in 1996. 

Herb Drinkwater was a friend to so many in this city that he was known as "Mr. Scottsdale." His untimely death at the age of 61 left a hole in the community. To commemorate his contributions to Scottsdale, Scottsdale renamed Civic Center Boulevard to Drinkwater Boulevard. 


Answer to Famous Alumnus

Doug Sydnor addresses crowd at the rededication of the Kiva Center in January

Doug Sydnor was born in Bremerton, Washington and moved to Arizona in 1955. He attended the inaugural year of Saguaro High School in 1966 and graduated in 1970. 

You might say that Douglas Sydnor was born to be an architect. After all, his father was an architect of local renown. Doug's father Reg Sydnor worked with Ed Varney, and knew colleagues Al Beadle, Bennie Gonzales and Ralph Haver. All these architects were masters of midcentury modern architecture.

Doug graduated with a bachelor's degree in architecture from Arizona State University and received a master's in architecture from Harvard University. 

Doug has completed more than 225 projects as an architect and received every major award an architect can receive. In 2011, he was awarded the prestigious American Institute of Architects Fellowship. Less than 3% of all members receive that particular honor.  

Those who have researched Scottsdale history at the Civic Center Library have a special place in their hearts for Doug Sydnor. The space was designed by Doug and named the Messinger Family Research Room of the Scottsdale Heritage Connection. 

If you're a fan of the library, then you may know that Doug also designed the Appaloosa Branch Library. 

Doug has authored numerous books and articles about the history of Scottsdale's buildings and architects. Noticeable for local history lovers are Images of America - Scottsdale Architecture, published in 2010 and Images of America - Paradise Valley Architecture, published in 2013. Doug has also published several articles in the Scottsdale Republic about architecture and architects. 

Doug recently completed the rehabilitation of the Kiva Crafts Center on Fifth Avenue (see the article above). Current projects he's working on include: the Kimsey Building at 7100 E. Indian School Road; The Osborn, mixed use development of senior housing and a restaurant space at Scottsdale and Osborn Roads, and the Residential Minimal Health Care Facility, a senior housing development at 100th St. and Frank Lloyd Wright. 

Next Time

You won't want to miss our Scottsdale History May/June Newsletter with information on how to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of Scottsdale's incorporation. There will be more news and resources about Scottsdale history to come!

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City of Scottsdale