You may have never noticed the white 2-story building on the southwest corner of Central Avenue and Encanto because its lovely façade is partially hidden behind mature palo verde trees — but it’s worth a second look. This historic building currently houses the ITCA, a non-profit that assists Tribal governments with health and safety programs, training and technical assistance. The ITCA purchased the building in 1998, saving it from possible demolition by a previous owner who wanted to sell the land for a high-rise condo development. With the help of the city’s Historic Preservation office, plus plans and old photos found in the basement, the ITCA painstakingly renovated the building before making it the organization’s headquarters.
Originally built in 1939 as the El Encanto apartments, the building was designed by Orville A. Bell, a prominent local architect responsible for many homes in the Encanto-Palmcroft and North Encanto neighborhoods, as well as many other buildings in Phoenix and Arizona. The 15,000-square-foot Spanish Colonial Revival complex housed 21 apartments built around a 6,400-square-foot center courtyard. It was the largest apartment building in Phoenix at the time of its construction. The building was added to the Phoenix Historic register in 1990 as an important example of the Spanish Revival style with design elements including a red tile roof, cantilevered balconies, exterior stairs, wood columns, mission-style details and a fountain.
Next time you walk down Central, take a moment to peer through the ornate wrought iron gates into the quiet courtyard and imagine a time when Willo was new and residents of a growing city called this great building home.
This is the first in a series of articles profiling interesting buildings on Willo’s borders. Stay tuned for our next column in “Inside Willo,” a monthly newsletter distributed to the residents of the Willo Historic District. You can find your online copy at: http://willohistoricdistrict.com/insidewillo.php.