Josephine Frankenberg House

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Josephine Frankenberg House (1910)

SUMMARY

The 1910 Neo-Classical style Josephine Frankenberg House originally at 129 E. University Drive and now moved to Olde Towne Square is significant as representative of the first major building boom in Tempe; for its association with its builders, James W. Woolf and Milton H. Meyer; and for its architectural qualities as the best-preserved and largest local example of rusticated concrete block construction in Tempe.

HISTORIC EVENTS

The 1910 Neo-Classical style Josephine Frankenberg House is among the oldest of the remaining properties of similar construction and represents the best local example of the type in both design and craftsmanship. Built in 1910, the house is representative of the first major building boom in Tempe which was to last until the post-World War I depression. The builders (Meyer and Woolf) were responsible for the initial development of the concrete block industry in Tempe. By the end of 1910, their Tempe plant was producing building blocks of various sizes, concrete tiling, and headgates for irrigation.

PERSONS

Local contractors James W. Woolf and Milton H. Meyer began construction on the Frankenberg House began in November of 1909. Milton J. Meyer, a local carpenter and craftsman, was the first to introduce the use of concrete block as a construction material in Tempe. Meyer is credited with the construction of many buildings in the Valley, including eight churches in Glendale, Phoenix, and Tempe. He is also associated with the first major building expansion program at the Tempe Normal School (now ASU) as the principal carpentry contractor for buildings constructed between 1905 and 1916. With financial backing from James W. Woolf, a longtime Tempe resident and prominent citizen, Meyer moved the concrete block industry forward. Although built for Theodore Dickenson, the house is named for Josephine Frankenberg, who purchased it in 1919, and continuously occupied it until her death in 1949. Josephine nursed many victims back to health during the Great Influenza epidemic in 1918. She rented rooms on the second floor to boarders, mostly single teachers employed at the Normal School. In the 1970s and 1980s, the house served as office space for Arizona State University.

ARCHITECTURE

The Josephine Frankenberg House was dismantled and rebuilt at Olde Towne Square (150 S. Ash Avenue) in 1992. The following is the architectural description for the original intact building prior to its move to a new location. The Frankenberg House is significant for its architectural qualities as the best-preserved and largest local example of rusticated concrete block construction in Tempe. The Frankenberg House is a two-story residence built of rusticated concrete block, and is essentially Neo-Classical in style. It is rectangular in plan, surmounted by a moderately-pitched roof. An offset gable extension is on the north façade. Broad gabled ventilating dormers are centrally located on the other three roof slopes. Each gable is detailed with multiple shaped shingles. The original shingle roof had been covered with ribbed roofing tile. A veranda with a low-pitched hipped roof extends along the north and east facades and is supported by eight precast concrete columns resting on a continuous low concrete block wall. Both north and east facades have slightly projecting frame bays on the lower level. The front door is original and features a single light with molded and beveled panels and decorative stamped hardware.

The property was added to National Register in 1980, then subsequently dismantled and rebuilt at Olde Towne Square in 1992. Now lacking integrity of location, this property remains eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places under National Park Service Criterion B and C.