Jorden: A salute to the preservation of historical properties in Paradise

The Town of Paradise Valley was incorporated in 1961, but its roots go back long before that.

Doug Jorden

Camelback Inn, El Chorro, and Hermosa Inn were around decades before the town was conceived. After WW II and continuing into the 1950s, increased development activity put pressure on the area’s one-house-per-acre lifestyle.

The desire to protect that lifestyle culminated with Town’s 1961 incorporation. Recently the Town Council adopted a Historic Property Recognition Program designed to provide an opportunity to recognize properties in the town with historical significance.

The Town Council’s adoption of the Recognition Program follows the recommendation of the town’s Historical Advisory Committee, which worked on the Program for several years.

In keeping with the town’s limited government model, the owner of a historic property must consent to being included in the program. Unlike many other cities, the town’s recognition program will not impose any additional regulations on the property. Even after the town has decided that a property has historical significance and is added to the list of recognized properties, the owner can have the property removed from the list or tear down the structure and build something new.

So, why spend time creating and implementing a Historic Property Recognition Program that is 100 percent voluntary and does not prevent a historical property from being torn down?

The answer is simple: It is a way for the town to pay homage to its history and to say “job well done” to those property owners who have elected to preserve historical properties.

In addition to recognizing properties with architectural significance, the recognition program will also focus on properties that represent an important person or an important event in the history of the town, the state of Arizona, or the United States.

I can think of several that would meet this important person or event criteria. And, the recognition program is not limited to just buildings or structures, but can also be used to recognize objects and gardens of historical significance.

Generally, a property must be at least 50-years-old to be eligible, but younger properties with exceptional historical significance will also be considered. To be considered, a property must have retained enough original features or characteristics to have historic integrity. That does not mean that additions, repairs, or upgrades will disqualify a property, but it does mean that the property must still have a historic story to tell.

Kudos to the Historical Advisory Committee, comprised of volunteer town residents, for getting behind the recognition program. It will be the committee’s job to review applications for properties to be recognized as historic. A more- detailed explanation of the recognition program and an application form can be found on the town website; look under the Historical Advisory Committee.

I hope town residents will get behind the Historic Property Recognition Program. It is an opportunity for us to step back from the hectic pace of our daily lives and reflect for just a moment on those who first saw the beauty of this place we call home.

Editor’s note: Mr. Jorden is a resident of Paradise Valley, former town attorney and longtime community advocate

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