Temple Historic District
Local Historic District Designation: February 2001
Listed to the National Register of Historic Places:
Temple Historic District is found immediately east of the original
townsite and is composed primarily of two residential subdivisions,
the Arizona Temple addition opened in 1922 and the Stapley addition
opened in 1924. The district encompasses three north-south streets –
Mesa Drive, Udall Street, and Lesueur Street - and is bounded on the
north by Main Street and on the South by Broadway Road. These
streets were named for Mormon pioneers which were instrumental in
the settlement and founding of Mesa City (later called Mesa). This
district is composed primarily of residential buildings with a few
associated commercial properties and a very prominent religious
property for which the residential district is named, the 1927
Arizona Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
(also known as the LDS Temple).
Although the perimeter of the neighborhood has suffered from some
modern intrusions and from the conversion of historic houses along
Mesa Drive to commercial use, for the most part it retains its
original residential character. On the north, south, and east sides
of this district of Bungalow and Period Revival Style houses are
post-WWII residential neighborhoods featuring Ranch Style houses.
West of the district is the original Mesa Townsite which is a
mixture of commercial and residential development representing many
succeeding decades of architectural styles. The layout of streets
and parcels in the Temple Historic District demonstrates the
evolution of land subdivision and street design in the earliest
development beyond the limits of the original townsite. Also, the
styles of the houses here are a visual record of the popular trends
in Mesa’s residential architecture in the early twentieth century.
The Temple Historic District in Mesa is significant for two
reasons. First, it is considered significant under National Register
criteria "A" in the area of Community Planning and development for
its relationship to broad patterns of community development in Mesa.
Second, the Temple Historic District illustrates important examples
of architectural styles common in Arizona during the first half of
the twentieth century. The Temple Historic District is considered
significant under National Register criteria "C" for the
architectural styles and periods that it represents. The period of
significance for the district starts in 1910 with the platting of
the Kimball Addition and continues until 1949, the end of the
50-year period of significance for the National Register.
The significance of the Temple Historic District is described
under two historic contexts. Context one, "Mesa's Suburban
development, 1910-1949," describes the development of subdivisions
outside the original townsite. Context one describes the
significance of community development in Mesa. Context two, "The
Evolution of Architectural Styles in Mesa Townsite Extension, 1922
to 1949," describes the significant architectural styles and themes
which influenced the stylistic treatment of buildings in Mesa as
represented by the district. Context two describes the architectural
significance of the district.
These historic contexts are based on previous Arizona
SHPO-sponsored historic preservation survey work in Mesa. In 1993,
the Woodward Architectural Group surveyed the original townsite of
Mesa, developing historic contexts appropriate to Section 22 which
comprised the original townsite. In 1997, The Architectural Company
surveyed some of the early subdivisions outside of the original
townsite. These two works built on an earlier Arizona SHPO-sponsored
survey of Mesa, the 1984 Mesa historical completed by Linda Laird
and Associates. However, the 1984 survey was conducted prior to the
emphasis on contextual evaluation so is not as valuable as the more
The two historic contexts developed in the 1993 and 1997 surveys
closely reflect the two contexts used in this National Register
nomination. Contexts identified by Woodward are "Mesa City: From
Mormon Settlement to Urban Center, 1878 to 1945" and "The Evolution
of Architectural Periods in the Mesa Townsite, 1878 to 1945."
Contexts identified in the 1997 survey are "Mesa's First Suburbs:
From Early Townsite Extensions to Modern Neighborhoods, 1910 to
1945" and "The Evolution of Architectural Styles in the Townsite
Extensions, 1910 to 1945."
Historic Context One: Mesa's Suburban development, 1910-1949
The Temple Historic District consists of subdivisions that were
platted beyond the original townsite of Mesa. This
process of subdivision outside the original townsite was an
important factor in the expansion of Mesa. This was a significant
change in the community development of Mesa and the Temple Historic
District is importantly associated with this process. The expansion
of Mesa into this particular area outside the original townsite is
closely related to the construction of the LDS Arizona Temple,
completed in 1927.
The Temple Historic District is significant for its association
with the development of a cohesive neighborhood of middle and upper
class families in Mesa from 1910 to1949. Although a portion of the
area was originally platted as the Kimball Addition in October if
1910, most of the buildings in the historic district were built
between 1922 and 1949 within two subdivisions that encompasses most
of the Temple Historic District. The two subdivisions are the
Arizona Temple Addition, opened in 1922, and the Stapley Acres
subdivision, opened in 1924. Additional buildings were constructed
outside of these two organized subdivisions in the Temple Historic
District on lots created from larger parcels of land without the
benefit of an organized subdivision (Block Nos. 89 and 90). In
addition to residential buildings the district includes commercial
and religious buildings that were closely associated with the
The Kimball Addition (platted in October 1910) was the third
subdivision to be platted outside the original Mesa townsite. It was
preceded by the North Evergreen subdivision (July 1910) and the
Evergreen Acres subdivision (August 1910). These three subdivisions
represented the expansive growth of Mesa in the second decade of the
twentieth century. During this period the demand for residential
housing led to the development of subdivisions outside the
boundaries of the original townsite. These subdivisions were
designed and marketed to appeal to the suburban resident who wanted
to avoid the problems associated with "city living."
While North Evergreen blossomed into an exclusive residential
subdivision in the years from 1910 to 1914, Evergreen Acres
developed more slowly. Its greater distance from the center of town
and lack of attention to landscaping details rendered Evergreen
Acres less desirable from a buyer's standpoint. The Kimball
Addition, located further still from the center of town was a
"paper" subdivision, existing only as lines drawn on map paper.
The land in the Kimball Addition was owned by the Kimball family.
W.A. Kimball was a Mesa pioneer who arrived in 1881. His father,
Heber C. Kimball, was first Counselor to Brigham Young. In Mesa,
William Kimball owned and operated the Kimball House hotel. A
staunch Republican, Kimball served one term on the County Board of
Supervisors. Kimball married Emma (Emeline) Sirrine, a member of
another prominent early Mesa family.
Mr. Kimball died in 1906, survived by his wife. She began
development of the Kimball Addition in 1910. Two reasons have been
advanced for its failure to develop. The establishment of two other
subdivisions prior to the Kimball Addition may have saturated the
market in Mesa. Secondly, plans for the Arizona Temple were already
in the works as early as 1910. Church officials may have persuaded
Mrs. Kimball to hold onto the property for eventual selection as a
possible temple site. Although historians disagree on the reasons,
the Kimball Addition was never sold as individual lots and it
remained in the single ownership of Emeline S. Kimball.
In the early twenties a decline in the price of cotton and a
national depression associated with the end of World War One meant
hard times in the Salt River Valley, including Mesa. Construction
slowed in the townsite and in the contiguous subdivisions. Farmers
and business owners searched for ways to diversify Mesa's economy.
After a few years the economy began to rebound and Mesa shared in
the prosperity associated with the "Roaring Twenties."
A major project which spurred growth on the southeastern edge of
the townsite was the construction of the Arizona Temple of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The construction of the
LDS Temple achieved the realization of many generations of LDS
pioneers. The earliest recorded donation for the Temple dated back
to 1897, when a Graham County widow donated $5.00 to the
construction fund when it was thought a temple would be erected in
the town of Pima.
Mesa LDS official began actively promoting the idea in 1912. By
the end of World War One over $200,000 had been collected for
construction. Church officials visited Mesa after the war and on
September 24, 1919 selected a twenty-acre tract at what is now the
corner of Main and Hobson Streets just outside the original
townsite. Preliminary planning took place from 1919 to 1921. Several
individuals served on the "Arizona Temple District Committee" that
planned the temple construction. Committee member included James
Lesueur (president of the Maricopa Stake), O.S. Stapley, (counselor
to President Lesueur) John Cummard (counselor to President Lesueur)
Andrew Kimball (president of the St. Joseph Stake), John T. Lesueur
(treasurer), and G.C. Spilsbury. Actual construction began in 1922
and continued until 1927.
Temples are used for LDS marriages and other sacred ceremonies. A
temple is separate and distinct from chapels used for weekly
worship. The first Mormon Temple was dedicated in Kirtland, Ohio, in
1836. Construction of a second Temple in Nauvoo, Illinois began in
1841. Prior to the construction of the Arizona Temple, Mormon
couples had to travel to the nearest temple – in St. George, Utah –
to have their marriages "sealed" or made official. This led to the
creation of the "Honeymoon Trail" from Arizona to Utah as many
couples made their way north to the temple in St. George. The
construction of a temple in Arizona would mean that LDS marriage
ceremonies could be completed without the arduous trip.
As plans were being drawn for the Arizona Temple, church
officials began to make plans to provide for housing in the area
that would complement the coming improvements. The promoters of the
Arizona Temple Addition, opened in 1922, included prominent members
of Mesa's Mormon community. These included J.W. and Anna M. Lesueur,
O.S. and Polly Stapley, John and Eva Anna Cummard, and C.R. and
Nellie D. Clark. Anticipating construction of the Temple, this group
purchased the Kimball addition from the Kimball family and replatted
it as the Arizona Temple Addition.
James Lesueur was a pioneer who arrived in Mesa in 1878 as a
child, then spent his early years in St. Johns. He married Anna
Anderson in 1902 and the couple returned to Mesa in 1906 where James
opened a mercantile business. He served as president of the Maricopa
Stake from 1912 to 1927, and president of the Arizona Temple from
1927 to 1944. James Lesueur died in 1948.
O.S. Stapley arrived in Mesa with his family at age 10. He
married Polly Hunsaker of Mesa in 1894 and started the O.S. Stapley
Company hardware and lumber company with his father-in-law. The firm
prospered, particularly after construction started on Roosevelt Dam.
As a prominent construction materials supplier at the start of the
Apache Trail to the dam, Stapley gamered a large amount of
government business. His firm later expanded operations to Phoenix,
Chandler, Glendale, and Buckeye. In addition to his hardware
company, Stapley amassed considerable holdings in real estate.
Stapley was also an active member of the LDS church.
John Cummard was a relative latecomer to Mesa. He arrived in the
United States form Liverpool in 1908 as an LDS convert. He moved to
Mesa in 1912 where he obtained his US citizenship in 1918. Cummard
was president of the Maricopa Stake for 19 years. He served on the
Arizona Corporation Commission from 1933 to 1935, and as state
examiner from 1939 to 1941. He was also a charter member of the
Rotary Club and chairman of the Mesa Red Cross. Beyond finding time
for these church and community activities, Cummard was in the real
estate and insurance business.
Clyde R. Clark operated a grocery business in Mesa. Clark served
on the Mesa City Council. He was also active in the LDS church. His
wife Nellie died in 1949; Clark died in 1951.
The boundaries of the new Arizona Temple subdivision matched
those of the earlier Kimball Addition. The northern boundary of the
subdivision was East Main Street and the southern boundary was East
Second Avenue. The western boundary was originally designated as
South Hobson Street and is today know as South Mesa Drive. The
eastern boundary of the subdivision was designated Lesueur Street
and abutted the site of the Arizona LDS Temple.
In contrast to the earlier Kimball Addition, the Arizona Temple
Addition replaced the two planned 80-feet wide east-west streets
with one major east-west street. This was an extension of First
Avenue from the townsite and maintained its generous 132-feet width.
This street was designed as a wide, tree-lined ceremonial boulevard
which made use of its width and orientation to create a strong view
axis toward the Temple. The west facade was the principle facade of
the Temple. Lots on East First Avenue were advertised as "Facing the
Temple – at a Bargain".
The earliest houses constructed in the Arizona Temple Addition
were built on either side of East First Avenue. The axis with the
Temple made this street the most prestigious in the subdivision. The
next focus of development was Lesueur Street, facing the Temple
grounds. Later development took place on Kimball Avenue, south of
and parallel to First Avenue. The Udall Street portion of the
Arizona Temple Addition was the last to develop.
The second subdivision associated with the Temple was Stapley
Acres. This subdivision was located to the south of the Arizona
Temple Addition and the Arizona Temple grounds. Stapley Acres had an
unusual shape: a single row of ten 60 by 90-ft. lots were oriented
east-west along Hobson Street (now South Mesa Drive), with seventeen
60 by 603 ft. lot running north-south extending to the east. This
subdivision was platted in 1924 by O.S. and Polly Mae Stapley,
pioneer Mesa residents. O.S. Stapley was owner of the O.S. Stapley
Hardware Company which had stores in several valley communities.
Stapley and his family continued to occupy the large Stapley home
just south of the subdivision.
Church President Heber J. Grant dedicated the Arizona Temple on
October 23, 1927. The building was patterned after King Solomon's
Temple, with sacred space on the second floor and administrative
functions on the first floor. Architects Don Carlos Young Jr. and
Ramm Hansen emphasized pillars in the construction. The Arizona
Temple is significant as one of only three temples constructed
without the distinctive tall spire that characterizes LDS Temples.
The temple in Mesa shares a flat roof with only two other temples;
Hawaii (Owahu) and Alberta, Canada. All three of these temples were
constructed in the late teens and early twenties.
The advent of the Great Depression after the stock market crash
in 1929 curtailed economic growth in Mesa and the nation. Because
the depression was strongly felt in the agricultural section of the
economy, Mesa was hard hit. As a consequence, very little
residential home construction took place for the next few years. The
nation began to come out of the depression by 1937, as a result of
Federal government public work programs, but only the advent of
World War Two could bring a final end to the economic downturn.
The dearth of home construction in the Temple Historic District
continued during World War Two, but for a different reason. The war
effort required a total commitment of supplies and materials. The
result was a shortage of building materials and restrictions on the
amount of goods people could purchase. The patterns of slow growth
in the district continued through the war years.
The one exception to this generally slow pace of residential and
commercial construction during the war was the erection of the LDS
5th Ward Church in 1943. Population expansion required additional
facilities. Derived from the 2nd Ward, this new ward church building
provided space for weekly church services.
Following World War, a great expansion in population occurred in
Arizona. Soldiers and war workers who had experienced the climate
and attractive lifestyle of Arizona during the war decided to make
the state their permanent home. This increase in population
coincided with an increase in spending for home construction and
business development. Workers and soldiers went on a spending spree
with their savings and "mustering out" money to build homes and
The improved economic climate resulted in a new wave of
construction in the Temple Historic District. Many of the vacant
lots which had remained from the early years of the subdivision soon
blossomed with houses. A series of community amenities and
businesses developed to serve the needs of the new residents.
One of the most noteworthy of these was Wright’s Market. This was
family business started by Lorenzo (Lo) Wright. Later, as additional
family members joined it became Lo Wright & Sons. These included
Harold, Bassett, Jack, Tom, Bill, and Lavoun. The firm started in
Mesa about 1928 with a store at 111 W. Main Street. Wright later
added a second store on Main Street, Wrights West End Market, and a
store in Chandler. The firm opened Wright’s Locker Market in 1952 on
South Macdonald in Mesa. The store in the Temple neighborhood was
opened in 1955 and called "Wright’s Shopping Center Market."
Local residents called Wright’s Market "the first shopping center
in Mesa." The market served as the neighborhood store, where
residents could do their laundry, get a hair cut, go to the post
office and drug store, or to the Ben Franklin variety store. In
later years, ca. 1981, the building was converted into the Kirby’s
Other later changes included conversion of the Stapley Home into
the Elks Lodge, ca. 1955, and the creation of Stapley Park. The LDS
Church modernized the Arizona Temple in 1975 by adding single-story
dressing rooms to the south side of the building. The Visitor’s
Center building was also added to the grounds at this time. The
Temple Beth Shalom acquired the 5th Ward LDS Church for use as a
Jewish synagogue. These later changes to the district merely
represent the gradual change and maturation of the area. These
changes have not had a negative effect on the integrity of the
The Temple Historic District is a good example of the process
twentieth century suburban development in Mesa. This change was an
important part of the community of Mesa as residents required more
housing than the original plan could provide. The Temple Historic
District is an excellent example of the process of community
development which changed Mesa from a pastoral, agricultural
community to more closely match the growing urban populations of
Phoenix, Glendale, and Tempe. While its growth closely matches the
overall process of community development in the Salt River Valley,
the association with the LDS Arizona Temple makes the Temple
Historic District in Mesa unique.
Historic Context Two: The Evolution of Architectural Styles
in Mesa Townsite Extensions, 1922 - 1949
Several architectural styles are represented within the Temple
Historic District which reflects its 27+ year period of development.
The earliest architectural style found is the National Folk or
Vernacular style. Although this style is primarily seen in homes
construction during the initial settlement period in Mesa, it can
also be found in homes constructed towards the end of World War II.
Characteristics of this style include rectangular, square, or
L-shaped one story buildings. The massing is usually defined as
gable-front, gable-front-and-wing, hall-and-parlor, or I-plan. The
gabled roofs are sheathed with wood shingles, asphalt or asbestos
shingles, or corrugated sheet metal. Porches integral with the
gabled roof or attached as a shed roof were often part of the home.
The floors were usually raised and constructed of wood. The walls
were constructed of frame, stone, brick or concrete block (in later
homes), and sheathed with wood siding, weatherboard, clapboard,
board-and-batten, stucco, stone brick, or painted concrete block.
Tall rectangular double-hung windows and doors were commonly found
in this style. The character-defining elements for the National
Folk/Vernacular style is the lack of decorative ornamentation or
portion of the homes in the Temple Historic District fall under
the architectural style - Bungalow. This style of architecture,
originating in California in the early 1900’s, was popular in Mesa
from 1910-1940. Characteristics of the Bungalow style include single
story simple, box-like massing with medium-pitched hipped or gabled
roofs. Large front porches and symmetrical facades with pairs of
double-hung windows are also character-defining elements of the
style. The Bungalow style is subdivided into three substyles -
Classical, Craftsman, and California. Each of these substyles
contains the primary characteristics, i.e., gabled roofs, deep
overhangs, front porches, but differ in the detailing. The Craftsman
Bungalow is far more ornate with exposed wood trim, especially heavy
timber trusses, beams, brackets, and rafter tails. The porches are
usually supported by massive masonry or stone piers. Front "Chicago"
style windows, is also found in many Bungalows. The Classical
Bungalow is very modest in its trim and detailing. The California
Bungalow usually has an offset front porch wrapping around the house
to create a porte-cochere. The windows many times will contain
multiple panes in the upper lights. The Classical Bungalow is most
represented within the Wilbur Historic District. The Classical
Bungalow is closest to the essence of the Bungalow with its simple
gable-roof massing and deep overhangs, simple double-hung windows,
and many times symmetrical facade.
In the mid 1920's, a whole sequence of stylistic treatments
drawing from large segments of the historical range of European
housing styles, known as Period Revival styles began to crop in
Mesa. The first of these styles is the Tudor Revival style which
stems from medieval English building traditions. The Tudor Revival
style can be characterized by its rectangular or "L" shaped plans
and very high-pitched roofs. The front facades are usually
asymmetrical in layout. Small portals or vestibules are common
rather than large front porches. The roofs are generally sheathed
with wood or small-paned casements in flat-topped, Tudor, Gothic, or
A second Period Revival style found in Mesa is the Spanish
Colonial Revival style. This style stem’s from an interest in the
region’s heritage, including its historic links to Spain, Mexico and
indigenous American cultures. Characterized by its stucco walls and
tile roofs, the Spanish Colonial Revival home is rectangular in
plan, one to two stories in height with asymmetrical facades. The
roof forms are often combinations of flat roofs with parapets and
low-pitched gables. Small porches with arched openings and
occasional pergolas or porte-cocheres can be found in this style.
The tall double-hung or casement windows sometimes have small panes
in the upper sashes. Occasionally the windows and doors appear with
Roman or semi-circular arched openings. Typical ornamental features
of the style include applied terra cotta, tile or cast concrete
ornament, decorative iron trim for scones, grillwork, brackets,
railings, balconets, and fences.
In the mid-1930's, a new style loosely based on early Spanish
Colonial buildings modified somewhat from earlier Period Revival
style buildings, gained popularity in California. This style, the
Ranch style of housing first appeared in Mesa in the mid-to-late
1930's, but became dominant during the years following World War II.
The majority of the homes in the Temple Historic District reflect
the resurgence of residential development in Mesa following the
depression years. These early Ranch style homes were called
Transitional Early Ranch (or Minimal Traditional). This early Ranch
style architecture drew from earlier styles as well as bringing
about new stylistic elements. They typically contained raised floors
and wood double-hung or wood casement windows. They were also
smaller in scale than the later sprawling Ranch style homes. The
Ranch style is characterized by one story, rectangular or L-shaped
structures with low-pitched gable or hipped roofs. Small wood frame
porches occur over the entry or at the juncture of the intersecting
roofs. A variety of materials can be found with this style including
brick masonry, painted or unpainted; stucco over wood frame; and
concrete masonry units, painted or unpainted. The windows are
usually steel casement or fixed with multiple lights. Occasionally,
corner windows can be found. Decorative elements include horizontal
wood siding at gable ends and occasionally wood shutters flanking
windows. In general, the residence found in the Temple
Historic District are very modest in scale, style, and detailing.
The larger homes can be found along First Avenue. The variety of the
architectural styles represented in the district reflects the
sporadic development of the neighborhood from its initial platting
of the subdivisions. The sporadic development is characteristic of
the development of Mesa as a whole.