Centennial (Sampson-Tupper) House

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Survey Number: HPS-159 
Year Built: 1888
Architectural Style: Colonial Revival/Queen Anne Bungalow

Staff Report to Historic Preservation Commission :: 13 OCT 2005 [.pdf]

 

Centennial House [the Sampson/Tupper House] had been identified in the 1997 Tempe Multiple Resource Area Update as Not Eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places due to integrity. That evaluation was based on the house having been moved from its original location in the University Hayden Butte Redevelopment Area. When the Tempe Historic Preservation Office received a nomination for historic property designation from the Owner, the question of continued eligibility was examined in detail by both Tempe and State Historic Preservation Office Staff.

Because the process used by the Tempe Historic Preservation Commission to reevaluate the eligibility of this property provides important information about which aspects of integrity are critical for specific property types, Commission discussion appears below as a preface to the Staff Report.

Tempe Historic Preservation Commission (Tempe HPC)

MEETING PROCEEDINGS (excerpt)
Thursday, October 13, 2005

Agenda Item IV. Public Hearing – Centennial House Historic Property Designation

The Chair noted that this is a public hearing by the Tempe Historic Preservation Commission for the historic designation of the Sampson Tupper House, Centennial House, located at 601 West Third Street, in Tempe.” He stated he had concerns about this designation and said he will play the role of devil’s advocate in testing the eligibility of this property. The Chair said the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards recommend against moving or relocating historic properties. He noted that this property was removed from the National Register in 1988 primarily because it was moved, but that there are other integrity concerns with this property. The Chair noted that additions to the house made during the historic period were removed when the house was relocated in 1988. He said one of the character defining features of the Colonial Revival architectural style is a single front entry. The Chair noted that windows on both sides of the original entry have been replaced with French doors, and that this disrupts the integrity of the front elevation. He said modifications to the front porch, which was added after the move, are problematic, noting the pre-1925 photograph in the Staff Report that shows no porch was present at that time, and the 1925 porch addition is shown in later photos to be fairly distinctive in its own right. The Chair suggested the 1988 porch is dramatically different and is totally contrary to Secretary Standards as it is based on conjectural period design and has nothing to do with this house.

The Chair noted that the revised October 13, 2005 Staff Report argues for eligibility as a landmark, meaning the property has gained significance within the past 50 years. He said when he thinks of Tempe Landmarks he thinks of City Hall or the Valley National Bank Building at Apache and Rural. The Chair stated these are exceptional buildings that have not yet reached 50 years. He said the landmark designation report again makes reference to Susan Harter, and while no one would argue the significance of her contributions to Tempe Preservation, this designation could send the wrong message to the public - that this type of preservation is OK. He called attention to State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison’s opinion that an event-based historic designation would not be eligible for National Register listing until 50 years after the event occurred. Finally, the Chair noted that this property has been relocated to the historic 1946 Roosevelt Subdivision, a first tier subdivision, and so the setting has been altered as well.

The Chair noted the Staff Report prepared for the September 8, 2005 Neighborhood Meeting attempted a case for eligibility under National Register Criteria A - association with historically significant activities in community history (citizen activism) and Criteria B – association with persons historically significant in the community (Susan Harter). He observed that in both cases the subject must attain 50 years for designation. The Chair noted that the October 13, 2005 Staff Report argues eligibility under National Register Criteria C – embodying the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction. He indicated that the basis for HPO recommendation appears to be a moving target and suggested HPO might take a run at Criteria D – likely to yield information important in prehistory or history, at the last remaining option left to explore.

State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison stated it appears that insufficient time has passed to determine if the changes made by Susan Harter circa the 1988 relocation were good or bad. He said we all agree that she did some things that were inappropriate, noting for example, that she installed chimneys from the historic 1892 Niels Petersen House after the move. He noted that Susan Harter had collected various historic artifacts and recycled them at Centennial House as a means of conservation. Mr. Garrison noted that this is not a recommended approach to preservation or even one that would be supported, but, nevertheless that is what she did. He said while these decisions can be criticized, the test for eligibility remains – “Is there something of significance present and if so does it have integrity?”

State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison stated that the initial 1983 Tempe Historic Property Survey discovered that this was the oldest brick residence within the City of Tempe. He suggested there is a high probability that this is the FIRST brick residence in Tempe, but that has not been proven. Mr. Garrison noted that every residence constructed earlier than Centennial House is thought to have been either of adobe or frame construction. He noted that National Register of Historic Places Eligibility Criteria C – addresses those properties that “embody distinctive characteristics of a method of construction – the way in which a property was fabricated”. He noted this aspect of Criteria C eligibility gets away from architectural design as a method of construction normally evaluates to one of four different types or classes of construction; a pattern or feature common to a particular class of resources (best of class or last example of a once common type); individuality or variation of features that occur within the class; the evolution of that class or the transition between classes.

State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison said “Method of Construction” refers to the way certain properties are related to one another by cultural tradition or function, by date of construction, or availability of materials and technologies. Mr. Garrison noted that the Sampson House was constructed right at the point when clay brick masonry became available for use in houses built in Tempe.

State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison said “Method of Construction” also refers to important examples of building practices at a particular time in history or an important phase of architectural development in a community if it had an impact evidenced by later buildings. He said obviously unreinforced clay brick masonry continued to be used for residential construction up until the advent of Building Codes in the 1950s, so here again we find significance. Mr. Garrison noted that the bricks you see today are the bricks the house was built with, notwithstanding the insensitive repointing that occurred subsequent to the move. He said the original bricks are all there and even if the front windows were changed, this was done entirely within the original masonry openings as can be seen from the historic photographs – so the change didn’t take one brick out of the building – they’re still all there.

State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison advised that for listing at the local level to have the oldest brick residence, which is also believed to be the first brick residence constructed in Tempe, all that remains in a determination of eligibility is to test for integrity. Integrity is the ability of a property to convey its significance. The National Park Service identifies the following seven aspects of integrity in the National Register Bulletin “How to Apply the National Register Citeria for Evaluation”.

1) Location – the place where the historic property was constructed or where the historic event occurred.

2) Design – the combination of elements that create the form. Plan, space, structure, and style of a property.

3) Setting – the physical environment of a historic property.

4) Materials – the physical elements that were combined during a particular period of time and in a particular pattern or configuration to form a historic property.

5) Workmanship – the physical evidence of the crafts of a particular culture or people during any given period in history or prehistory.

6) Feeling – a property’s expression of the aesthetic sense of a particular period of time.

7) Association – the direct link between an important historic event or person and a historic property.

State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison circulated a matrix titled “Aspects of Integrity: Generalized Application” that he prepared to illustrate how to evaluate the integrity of a property. This chart indicates those aspects of integrity that must be present for different property types to remain eligible. Enter the chart at criteria “C – Design/Construction” and move across to the property type column for “Building”. This indicates four of the seven aspects of integrity must be present to maintain the integrity of a building that has significance under criteria C. They are; Design, Workmanship, Materials, and Feeling

State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison said most of the criticism of the subject nomination is the lack of location and setting. He stated that under Criteria C – there exist provisions for listing moved buildings where the moved property retains enough historic features to convey integrity of design, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. Mr. Garrison said this is a legitimate basis for designation, and that the Commission would not set dangerous precedent by moving the oldest brick residence in town – anybody can move the oldest brick residence in town and how many buildings could thus be moved – only one.

State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison then asked if this building retains integrity of design, materials, workmanship, and feeling. He said looking at Centennial House these criteria are met. The Chair asked if by this analysis the 1988 front porch addition did not create a problem. Mr. Garrison acknowledged that this does not meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, however, it did not harm to the integrity of the bricks which is what’s significant and also that this addition is reversible leaving the integrity intact for the future.

State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison suggested that even if the changes had resulted in the loss of some percentage of materials, the basis of eligibility has been so narrowed as to leave eligibility available on the basis of maintaining the continued existence of the oldest brick residence, which is also believed to be the first brick residence, constructed in Tempe.

State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison noted that Centennial House has other interesting aspects worthy of preservation such as style and design however, the recommendation is to focus narrowly on the materials as the basis for eligibility under Criteria C. He said at this moment in time the decision to build a residence from clay brick masonry marks a point in community history when the permanence of Tempe appeared plausible, if not this property from a building construction technology perspective – than which one would you select for designation?

The Chair asked if this property came forward as a National Register nomination would SHPO support it? Mr. Garrison responded that the National Register eligibility is not always the way to justify local historic designation, however, in this case - if the first of something is important, Tempe actually has one. Mr. Garrison suggested that the debate about the preservation actions at this project will continue far into the future, and while some things should have been done differently, he does not blame Susan Harter for what she did. Commissioner Pagoria noted that at the time these changes are 50 years old, these issues will be moot. Mr. Garrison agreed.

Mr. Linoff reminded the Commission that if Susan Harter had not undertaken this project with her own means, we would not be discussing the merit of designating the oldest brick residence, which is also believed to be the first brick residence constructed in Tempe. He said that in 1988, the preservation philosophy may have been different, noting that while he agrees mistakes were made, he still believes that Susan worked with a true sensitivity and from a real basis in community history. She did things the best way she was able. Mr. Linoff said he agrees with SHPO that he does not think HPC designation sets a precedent, noting that there are so few properties from this era and acknowledging that moving a property is an absolute last resort. He cited the examples of the Minton and Pomeroy houses recently moved from the site of the Mesa Arts Center and currently going through the process of being relisted on the National Register. He said there was no choice for those properties as there are so few territorial properties in Tempe that the survivors deserve extraordinary consideration. Mr. Linoff said this is similar to Farmer Goodwin, noting that no one is happy with what’s occurring but at least the historic 1883 Farmer Goodwin House will survive. He added that the alterations to Centennial House are reversible with no additional loss of original materials.

The Chair called for a motion.

MOTION BY COMMISSIONER PATTERSON AND SECONDED BY COMMISSIONER PAGORIA THAT THE TEMPE HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION RECOMMEND THAT MAYOR AND COUNCIL DESIGNATE CENTENNIAL HOUSE AS A TEMPE HISTORIC PROPERTY AND LIST IT ON THE TEMPE HISTORIC PROPERTY REGISTER. MOTION CARRIED 4 - 0.

HPO asked Mr. Garrison for his opinion as to how local listing differs from National Register designation, even though properties can be listed on the National Register at the local or State level of significance. Mr. Garrison said SHPO recommends Certified Local Governments follow National Register criteria as closely as possible so that a property of local significance can also be listed on the National Register. He said in review of an application the State should agree with the local significance and react accordingly. He recommends identifying one basis for eligibility and arguing that as well as possible to assist in National Register eligibility although he noted that Federal Agencies are encouraged to identify all aspects of eligibility.

The following Staff Summary Report was prepared for the Tempe Historic Preservation Commission meeting held on October 13, 2005, and was subsequently revised per the discussion above. This report is included here because it reports the broad historical associations of Centennial House, rather than limiting the discussion to the basis for historic designation. The actual basis for designation of Centennial House was narrowed and is provided in the final report prepared for the Planning & Zoning Commission hearing on October 25, 2005.

BACKGROUND + STATUS
On August 11, 2005, the Tempe Historic Preservation Office received a nomination for historic property designation for the Sampson Tupper Van Horn Harter House located at 601 West Third Street as a Tempe Historic Property and a request for listing on the Tempe Historic Property Register.

Centennial House [the Sampson/Tupper House] had been identified in the 1997 Tempe Multiple Resource Area Update as Not Eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places due to INTEGRITY. That evaluation was based on the house having been moved from its original location in the University Hayden Butte Redevelopment Area.

The applicant requests designation of the house on the Tempe Historic Property Register. The following report recommends listing Centennial House on the Tempe Historic Property Register and argues that the act of moving the house, as a last resort to its preservation, should be recognized as an event itself significant to broad patterns of history, specifically to the early organization and development of the Tempe Historic Preservation program.

HISTORY + CONTEXT
Built in 1888-89, Centennial House [the Sampson/Tupper House] is significant for its contribution to Tempe’s architectural heritage as the oldest remaining brick residential building within the Multiple Resource Area.

As a last resort to avoid demolition, pioneer preservationist Susan Harter financed moving the house to a lot owned by her family on West 3rd Street. The house was relocated in 1988, one hundred years after the house was built. Susan Harter renamed it the Centennial House.

Centennial House, including changes and modifications to date, remains an excellent example of the Colonial Revival style of residential architecture popular at the time of construction. Changes, including change of location, contribute to the historic evolution of the house, which continues to be well maintained with a significant amount of its 1888-89 architectural integrity intact.

Association with events significant to broad patterns of history:
Built in 1888-89, Centennial House [the Sampson/Tupper House] is significant for its contribution to Tempe’s architectural heritage as the oldest remaining brick residential building within the Multiple Resource Area. At the time of construction, Tempe was in the first year of a development boom under the vigorous promotion of the Tempe Land and Improvement Company. Use of brick construction in Tempe had previously been limited to the 1886 Tempe Normal School Building (demolished), but with the 1888 construction boom of the commercial district, new local brick kilns made the material more accessible and affordable. The Sampson House was built during the same months as the first substantial commercial buildings in Tempe which included the Ellingson Block (demolished), the Andre Building (NRHP), and the Tempe Bakery (NRHP). The new brick buildings brought a sense of permanence to the fledgling settlement and left a legacy of community identity that would endure for over one-hundred years.

In March 1983, Tempe’s initial Historic Property Survey and Multiple Resource Area Nomination (Janus 1983), evaluated House (the Sampson House) including changes and modifications to date. The survey noted these changes as “contributing to the historic evolution of the house” and found the house to be well maintained with a significant amount of its 1888-89 architectural integrity intact.

On May 7, 1984, Centennial House (the Sampson House) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with a number of other properties as part of the Tempe Multiple Resource Area nomination.

Circa 1988, Centennial House was moved, 100 years after it was built, to make way for what would eventually become the Centerpoint redevelopment project. Taken by truck from its original location at 109 West Sixth Street, the house was set down in the same orientation (front entry facing north) at the property located at 601 West Third Street.

Circa 1989, Centennial House was delisted from the National Register of Historic Places.

Association with lives of persons significant in our past:
The Sampson House was built in the winter of 1888-89 for Mrs. Lulu Sampson, a widow and teacher in the Tempe School System. Mrs. Sampson moved from the house in 1894 when failing health forced her retirement from teaching. The house was occupied throughout its historic period by several Tempe notables including; C. H. Jones, Normal School Professor C. M. Frizzell, and Tempe’s first postal carrier Lyle Weir.

The Sampson House was purchased in 1924 by Mrs. Cordelia E. Tupper who made extensive repairs to the home, added sidewalks and a front porch. The Sampson/Tupper house continued to be used as a rental throughout this period.

The Sampson/Tupper House was occupied in 1934 by Mr. Howard Van Horne who moved his family from their home at 121 East Seventh Street. In 1951, Van Horne acquired the property from the Tupper Estate. Van Horne sold the house in 1971 and for the next fifteen years the home changed ownership several times without undergoing significant changes.

In 1985, the City of Tempe announced plans for the University Plaza redevelopment project, now known as Centerpoint. This project created mixed-use redevelopment on a 21.5-acre site northwest of Mill Avenue and University Drive. New Centerpoint buildings of varying height and density envelop the reconstructed Ellingson Warehouse and the historic Brown-Strong-Reeves House, but the project also displaced many of Tempe's oldest homes west of Mill Avenue.

When Centerpoint planning began in 1985, Susan Harter, a fourth generation Tempe native, worked to save some of the familiar old houses. Susan regularly attended City Council meetings, and became one of the most outspoken advocates for historic preservation. Recognizing that the best way to save historic buildings was to preserve and improve the old neighborhoods where they were located, Susan began organizing citizens to form the first neighborhood associations in Tempe.

Susan Harter grew up surrounded by reminders of Tempe's history and the role that her family had in building the town. As a teenager, her family moved into the Petersen House, a grand Victorian farmhouse that is now a city museum. Her mother, Helen Harter, was a founding member of the Tempe Historical Society. Susan’s great grandfather, James W. Woolf, was a pioneer builder who settled in Tempe in 1888. Nearly one-hundred years later, Susan further showed her commitment to preservation by personally moving one of Tempe's oldest houses from path of destruction.

The City of Tempe acquired the property including the Sampson/Tupper parcel in December 1987, for redevelopment, and the house was scheduled for demolition. Susan borrowed from her family's estate to pay for moving the house to a lot on West 3rd Street. The house was relocated in 1988, exactly one hundred years after the house had been was built. Susan renamed it the Centennial House.

Susan Harter proved that one person could make a difference in preserving Tempe's historic buildings. In 1992, she received the President's Award for Historic Preservation from the Arizona Preservation Foundation.

SUSAN HARTER: VOLUNTEER COMMUNITY ACTIVIST
Born November 18,1933
Died January 18, 1993
Susan Harter was the elder daughter of Tom Harter, an ASU art professor, and Helen Harter, an art and elementary school teacher. She had strong roots in the community because her mother’s family, the Woolfs, came to Tempe in 1889. Harter was best known as a community activist who was interested in preserving the historic character of Tempe. However, she also was an accomplished artist and teacher.

Susan Harter earned a Bachelor of Arts from Arizona State University and a Master of Arts from Claremont College in California. She also completed the coursework for a master’s degree in English at Arizona State University. She taught locally in the Roosevelt, Kyrene and Tempe Elementary School Districts as well as in California, Europe and Japan. Harter also taught at ASU and Mesa Community College.

“They say that Frank Lloyd Wright
played with blocks until he was 12.
Well, I did, too.
Even my dreams have architectural backgrounds.”

- Susan Harter

A FASCINATION WITH ARCHITECTURE
Susan Harter’s fascination with architecture was linked to her family roots and life experiences. As a fourth-generation Tempean, she was surrounded by visible reminders of her family’s role in the development of the town. Her great-grandfather, James Woolf, was a prominent rancher, director of the Tempe National Bank and member of the 19th Territorial Legislature. He also was Tempe’s first concrete block manufacturer and built many homes. When she was 18, her family moved to the Victorian era Petersen House where her parents were caretakers for 17 years. Harter lived there on and off throughout the 1950s and 1960s. While teaching overseas, she admired architecture and photographed many of the buildings she discovered during her travels.

“I have roots in this community that go back 100 years
and most of the physical evidence is no longer here.
I want to see what’s left preserved.
I want us to do right by it.”

- Susan Harter

GROWING UP IN TEMPE
Susan Harter fondly remembered a happy childhood in a small town with quiet, tree-lined streets, where children could walk and ride their bicycles anywhere in town. In the 1960s, Arizona State University began acquiring the residential neighborhoods around campus. Harter’s former homes were taken, along with the home her great-grandfather built for his family. Schools she had attended also were gone. Her memories of Tempe and the losses she experienced were the motivating factors in her passion for community activism.

“I can’t give it up and let somebody else do it.
I am somebody else.”

- Susan Harter

ADVOCACY
Susan Harter was passionate about preserving the historic character of the community. Harter believed that the only way to accomplish this was to keep the neighborhoods intact. She was a pioneer in the development of neighborhood associations and participated in early efforts to bring together residents from neighborhoods throughout Tempe. Harter was a regular at City Council meetings, keeping abreast of the issues and voicing her opinion on projects that would impact the history and quality of life in Tempe.

“I was appalled by the intensity of the University Plaza plans…
I thought,
‘I really need to express these ideas,
to get somebody to hear what I’m saying,
to have them really listen to some of these concerns.’”

- Susan Harter

A PERSONAL CRUSADE
Susan Harter took on her role as community crusader in 1985 when plans were announced for the development of University Plaza, now known as Centerpoint. The proposed project would destroy many historic houses and completely change the character of the west side of the downtown area.

In 1986, ASU announced its intentions to build a 10,000 square foot expansion of the College of Architecture at University Drive and Forest Avenue. The Frankenberg House, built out of concrete block in 1910 by Harter’s great-grandfather, James Woolf, stood in the way. Harter became concerned that it would soon be demolished. She lobbied heavily for saving the Frankenberg House, taking her case to ASU President J. Russell Nelson. The house was eventually dismantled and moved to Olde Towne Square.

Tempe architect Stu Siefer formed a partnership to install five historic homes on 1.4 acres at First Street and Ash Avenue: the Woolf-Cole; Long; Frankenberg; Woolf-Sachs; and Newton-Warner homes. They would be rented out for professional offices. At first, Susan Harter was opposed to this project because the houses would be removed from their original settings. However, once she realized that this approach was the only way to save them, she became a supporter. Stu Siefer credits her persistent lobbying with getting the city’s approval for the project.

A PERSONAL COMMITMENT
Susan Harter proved her personal commitment to historic preservation by moving the Sampson-Tupper House, Tempe’s oldest brick residence, out of the path of destruction. She persuaded the city to give her $10,000, and borrowed money from the family estate to move the house to a family lot. She nicknamed it Centennial House because it was moved one hundred years after it was built in 1888.

“I admit I fussed and fumed and I carried on.
But the way they have done it is the best solution.”

- Susan Harter

THE ARTIST
Susan Harter also was an accomplished artist. She won second prize in printmaking at the Arizona State Fair at the young age of 20. Harter won first prize in watercolor at the Arizona State Fair the following year. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Arizona State University and a Master of Arts from Claremont College in California. Harter continued to paint throughout her life.

IN MEMORIUM
Susan Harter died in 1993 at the age of 59. Many fellow Tempeans gave tribute to her lasting legacy.

“She was a very persistent advocate.
Generations of Tempeans
will be indebted to her and the work she did.”

- Harry Mitchell, then Mayor of Tempe

RECOGNITION
Susan Harter received the President’s Award for Historic Preservation from the Arizona Preservation Foundation in 1992. In January of 1993 immediately following her death, Mayor Harry Mitchell signed a proclamation honoring her role as a community activist. In 1998, Harter was posthumously awarded a Leadership Award “in recognition of exceptional vision, dedication and service” by the Newtown Community Development Corporation. The annual historic preservation award that is given to a Tempe citizen by the Historic Preservation Commission is named in Harter’s honor.


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Distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction:
Centennial House is a brick structure, rectangular in plan, measuring 35 feet wide by 20 feet deep. A segment-style wood shingle roof slopes to the front and rear from a ridge running parallel to the width of the house. A modest cornice molding is applied at the fascia and the enclosed eaves. Gable ends are finished in segment-style or scalloped wood shingles and feature a centrally placed wood sash window. Attic ventilators are located below the eaves on the front and rear masonry walls. Double-hung wood sash windows and French doors occur in the original, symmetrically-located segmented-arched masonry openings. The original front entry door and sidelight arrangement has been maintained providing a focal point formal entry into the symmetrical arrangement of rooms.

A central hall divides the house and links each room to the kitchen in the rear addition. The original house did not include plumbing and the original kitchen was probably located outside the main house or in a shed at the rear.