Paradise Valley pursues formal salute of historically significant architecture

Paradise Valley Town Hall groundbreaking in 1973. (photo by Town of Paradise Valley)

An official program to recognize, preserve and honor historical aspects embedded within the Town of Paradise Valley is becoming a reality — after being proposed by a local resident.

The town was incorporated in 1961, but desert-dwellers were calling the Town of Paradise Valley home long before that.

The town is comprised of several types of homes of all ages — from mid-century houses, ranches and Mediterranean homes — but the ones with special stories behind their walls are the most unique.

Coined the Town of Paradise Valley Historic Property Recognition Program, town resident Doug Jorden thought of the idea after being inspired by his own home, which he believed to be of historical relevance. While other municipalities have historic recognition programs, this one is on a volunteer-only basis and doesn’t include any requirements, Mr. Jorden says.

The concept of the program is simply to recognize historic properties within the town, with consent of the property owner.

He approached the town’s Historical Advisory Committee with the idea, Chair Catherine Kauffman explained.

“He (Mr. Jorden) had come to our committee, at the point in time he had moved into a home that he felt had historical relevance,” Ms. Kauffman explained.

Catherine Kauffman

“We thought it’d be nice to preserve houses, as we all watched them being demolished.”

Ms. Kauffman noted watching homes in her neighborhood be torn down and replaced with modern structures seemed to be commonplace.

“Our committee was really excited,” she said. “Doug did most of the leg work, and we just kind of agreed and gave our suggestions moving forward. We were fully supportive since we all believe in supporting the history.”

By recognizing the efforts of historic homebuilders, Mr. Jorden believes this program will encourage residents to preserve their properties.

“I thought it would be a good thing for the town to do,” he said. “Other cities have similar programs, but most of them have a regulatory aspect, which did not seem appropriate for the town’s limited government model.”

Because of the town’s residential focus, Mr. Jorden and Ms. Kauffman say they believe most of the properties that might apply for the program will be houses. However, resorts such as Hermosa Inn and Camelback Inn, and beloved eatery, El Chorro, were around long before the town was incorporated.

“My guess is that there are more properties with historical significance than we realize,” Mr. Jorden noted.

The Historical Advisory Committee is still working out all of the program details, Ms. Kauffman said, but they have received Town Council approval to move forward with it.

A statue of Barry Goldwater in the Town of Paradise Valley.
(Arianna Grainey/Independent Newspapers)

To be included in the program, a property owner will need to submit an application, followed by a recommendation from the Historical Advisory Committee, and approval of the Town Council. The property owner will then receive a certificate recognizing the importance of the property to the town, and then town will add the property to a list of recognized historic properties to be kept at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive.

The program is voluntary, and does not impose any new regulations on the recognized properties.

Eligible properties for the program includes buildings, structures, objects and designed landscape features — such as gardens.

As a guideline, a property must be at least 50-years-old. Significance or importance will be evaluated within the property’s historical context to determine whether it illustrates a period of town development:

  • Early settlement-WWII (1947)
  • WWII (1947)-town incorporation (1961)
  • Post-incorporation.

The property must also represent an important part of history or architecture of the town under at least one of the following areas:

  • Events/trends: the property must be associated with an event or pattern of events that made a significant contribution to the history of the nation, the state or the town;
  • Persons: the property must be associated with the life of a person who was significant in the history of the nation, the state or the town;
  • Architecture: the property must embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction; represent the work of a master (architect, designer, engineer or builder); possess high artistic values; or be a source of civic pride or identity for the town.

The Paradise Valley Town Council approved moving forward with this idea during its Nov. 1 meeting.

Historical Advisory Committee liaison, Paradise Valley Councilman Mark Stanton called the program “stellar” at the Nov. 1 meeting.

“I think this was a really stellar effort on behalf of Doug who crafted this; Catherine Kauffman, and the entire advisory (group), as a way to build legacy for the community without putting a burden in that process,” Mr. Stanton said.

“I would again thank you, Doug, Catherine and the entire committee. To have this type of thoughtful program is just a type of tribute to the legacy of our entire town.”

Councilwoman Julie Pace also says she’s very excited about the program.

“I’m very excited about this project as you know,” Ms. Pace said Nov. 1.

“I think a fabric of our community is historical remembrance and celebration of architectural and items that make us this rural elegance that we have in Paradise Valley. I encourage people to participate in it. I think it’s just a great program and something we needed.”

Ms. Kauffman says starting a program like this signifies a new direction for the Historical Advisory Committee.

“For us, it’s leading us in a different direction,” she said.

“What we’ve been doing for the last 20 years or so is taking oral histories of our founding mothers and fathers, people in town, whether famous or just lived here for a long time. We’ve always focused on that, preserving history in that way. So this is taking us into a different direction, but still compliments what we’re already doing. We enjoy getting something new.”

The application is planned to be available on the town’s website,

News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be reached by e-mail at or follow her on Twitter at

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