I want to learn more about Tempe, AZ after visiting the Eisendrath House. Known primarily as the home of Arizona State University, which has Frank Lloyd Wright’s Gammage, Phoenix’s Broadway show center, Tempe also has many historic adobe structures like the Eisendrath House. Its next door neighbor is Papago Park, which now contains the Sandra Day O’Connor house. It was moved here in 2009 from Paradise Valley. The first woman to serve on the U. S. Supreme Court, O’Connor lived in this house for 22 years while raising 3 children before becoming a Supreme Court Justice. This historic home is not opened to the public at the present time.
Tempe started out as Hayden’s Ferry, an important Salt River crossing place. At one point only Egypt had a bigger canal system than Arizona, and the Salt River provided the Phoenix area’s main water supply. The Salt is still an important source of water. Ruth and I quickly learned from Richard, a local plant expert working at the Eisendrath House, that the Colorado River is thought to be a major source of the Phoenix area’s water supply but the Salt is still more important. Richard gave me some material to read about water, let us into the house, and contacted Darlene Justus, President of the Tempe Historic Preservation Foundation. She came to the Eisendrath and gave Ruth and me a fine tour. The house today is used as Tempe’s Visitor Center and Event Venue that is opened to the public on Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 am to 3 pm for tours. Many weddings are performed here. Luckily, Ruth and I were there on a Thursday.
It’s estimated that up to 30% of wealthy Chicagoans resided in Arizona during the winter months in the late 1920s. Rose Eisendrath was one of them. Refused accommodation in a resort because she was Jewish, Rose decided to build her own dwelling here on 44 acres and it became known as “The pink house on the hill”. Her husband Joseph, who had died, was a glove manufacturer. Rose lived in her Tempe house for only 5 years before she died. It remains the best preserved Pueblo Revival Style structure in the Tempe area. The house became a retreat for the well-to-do and had several more owners, but by the time the City of Tempe bought it in 2001 the Eisendrath House had become an artists’ colony and was known as a marijuana retreat marked by tragedy. According to Darlene Justus, someone named Gloria Gold Barker hit her head and drowned in its pool. I have not been able to learn the details. Tempe spent more than 4 million dollars restoring the Eisendrath, and it has become a tourable historic home and major center for water conservation.