Vintage Art Deco Architecture

While doing some research about the Palmcroft neighborhood in Phoenix (one of my favorite inspiration neighborhoods; it is loaded with Spanish architecture from the 1920’s going forward).  I stumbled over the enchanting Art Deco architecture of downtown Phoenix in the 1920’s and into the early 1930’s.  All of these buildings are still there.  Given the City of Phoenix propensity for demolishing fabulous old buildings who knows how long they will be there.

Phoenix in 1920 was a small town in the desert.  The city business community had big dreams for growth.  It was and still is a city of optimism.  Grady Gammage Jr. said “Phoenix was people who moved here who wanted to get other people to move here, so it really is a giant real estate enterprise”.

The population in 1920 was 29,000; smaller than Tucson.  There were 11,539 cars registered.  The city developers decided to go vertical and built the Heard Building, an astonishing 7 stories (featured in the movie Psycho) followed by the 10 story Luhrs Building in 1924; 10 story Security Building in 1928.  The 16 story Westward Ho Hotel and San Carlos Hotels were built in 1928 and remained the tallest buildings for the next 32 years.

Here are a few favorites:


Security Building Rendering – Rendering done prior to construction.  Built in 1928; the developers ran out of money before the building was complete so they opened a casino & brothel on the top floors to raise money to complete the building.


Security Building – The building as it looks today.


Old Courthouse – Built in 1925 shared by the City of Phoenix and MaricopaCounty.  Designed by Lescher & Mahoney.


County Court House – Entrance to they county side with exquisite deco details.


CountyBuilding Roofline – Winged scrolls, rosettes


Two Eagles – Magnificent eagle on the city side of the building; there are two of them.


Orpheum Lofts – Originally the PhoenixTitle & TrustBuilding at 114 W. Adams built in 1931. Intricate chevron pattern & zigzag parapets.


LuhrsBuilding – Designed by Texas architects Trost & Trost and built in 1924.  Built of brown sand brick with intricate marble ornamentation on the top floors and a dramatic heavy cornice at the top.


LuhrsTower 2 – Almost next door to the LuhrsBuilding the Tower built in 1929 steps back in style like the ChryslerBuilding in New York.


Luhrs Tower Entrance – Notice the sculptural details surrounding the front entrance.