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Hauntingly beautiful Victorian Valentines at the Smurthwaite House

Some people believe that all the original Phoenix homes were basic adobe structures. They are amazed to learn that once upon a time there was a string of beautiful Victorian mansions gracing the vicinity of 7th Street and Monroe.

A touch of Blarney Castle and a Valentine
Photos by Debe Branning
The Victorian Smurthwaite house was the setting for a gala Valentine making party.
Courtesy of Wikipedia

The historic Smurthwaite House was designed by James M. Creighton and built in 1897. It is an excellent example of shingle style architecture. In addition to the majestic Rosson House, it is one of the few remaining 19th century buildings still standing in Phoenix.

The structure was originally constructed for use as a boarding house. It was sold in 1903 to Captain Trustrim Connell and his wife Anne as a private residence. In 1938, Anne Connell deeded the house to Caroline Smurthwaite, whose husband Charles was a collector and dealer in Native American art.

Their daughter Carolann owned the house until her death in 1982. It was stated in her will that the home be preserved and enjoyed by the public. The house was donated jointly to the Phoenix Art Museum, the Museum of Northern Arizona, and the Heard Museum. The three museums offered it to the City of Phoenix, which currently maintains the property and the nearby Pioneer & Military Memorial Park.

In 1994, the 3000 square-foot home made a journey of 26 city blocks to its current location at 1317 West Jefferson Street. Restoration work on the Victorian began in 1998 and was completed in 2001. Smurthwaite House was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 16, 2001. The Smurthwaite House serves as an archival library for information regarding historic cemeteries throughout Arizona and headquarters for the Pioneers’ Cemetery Association.

At a recent January 2014 open house, the Smurthwaite House returned to its glory years when visitors entered its doors to make old fashion Victorian Valentines. Several families came together to except the “Tombstone Name Search Challenge” out in the adjacent cemeteries. Members, Debe Branning and Cindy Lee, are always looking for new events to add to the PCA Open House calendar in order to draw guests to the historic cemetery grounds. Their wish is for residents to learn about the early Phoenix pioneers buried there, appreciate Arizona’s fine culture, and to make the Pioneer and Military Memorial Park (cemeteries) a must see for all visitors who come to the Phoenix area.

Pioneer & Military Memorial Park

1317 W Jefferson Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Arizona Haunted Sites examiner: Debe Branning

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