Tucson Mayor, Council Designate Ball-Paylore House as Historic Landmark

The City of Tucson Mayor and Council at their October 20th meeting voted unanimously to designate the modernist Ball-Paylore House, located in the Catalina Vista subdivision, a City of Tucson Historic Landmark. The property, owned and nominated for the designation by the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, is a unique and rare residential, environmentally responsive modern design that captures the spirit of post-WWII America. Designed in 1952 by noted Tucson based architect Arthur T. Brown, FAIA for University of Arizona librarians Patrica Paylore and Phyllis Bal, the house has been recognized for its original and innovative design since its construction, and has been featured in national and local publications.  

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said “Designating the Ball-Paylore House a City of Tucson Historic Landmark recognizes and highlights a pioneering example of environmentally responsive design,” she continued, “Given the current concerns around climate change, the historic property offers lessons to learn from our shared past.”

“This unique home was purchased and restored by the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation in fall of 2019,” said Demion Clinco, CEO of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation who prepared the historic landmark and oversaw the restoration. “This property is a distinct part of our dynamic and living heritage, the Preservation Foundation is thrilled to make this property available to the public through immersive overnight experiences and limited visits.” 

In 1952, Phyllis Ball and Patrica Paylore commissioned a bespoke one-of-a kind home that embraced the tenets of the American modern movement which responded to the environmental conditions of the Sonoran Desert offering both minimalist beauty and function. The result was an architectural masterpiece – considered one of the most important buildings of Brown’s design career. The forward-thinking project embraced geometry and siting to create a pioneering and early passive solar home.  Recognized as an important architectural work, the house was extensively published locally and nationally.  In 1959, the Southern Arizona Chapter of the American Institute of Architects partnered with the Tucson Daily Citizen to present the property as a notable project of design. The house was also featured in House Beautiful magazine in October 1962, and numerous times in Sunset Magazine, in the influential Sunset Patio Book and featured in Fine Homebuilding Magazine in 1982. In 2012, the house was listed alongside Taliesin West, Arcosanti, Ramada House, and the Burton Barr Central Library, as one of the five most important architectural works in Arizona by the Arizona Daily Star in their edition Arizona at 100: The Best of Arizona from 1912 to the present. The house has been included in numerous other publications including The Solar House: Pioneering Sustainable Design, 2013, and in 2017 the house was also featured nationally in the American real estate blog Curbed, and in the Society of Architectural Historians’ Archipedia in 2018. 

Dr. Michael Fassett, Board President of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, noted “The iconic home typifies modern Architecture and celebrates both the contributions of an important local architect and the women who commissioned this important work. This designation will not only protect this house for future generations but highlights an important part of our community history.” He concluded, “The Foundation is available to help owners of iconic historic architecture prepare local Historic Landmark designations.”  

To schedule an overnight experience visit www.preservetucson.org. The property will be featured on Tucson Modernism Week Home Tour, which is free. Tucsonmod.com to register. 

The Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in 1985 dedicated to preserving Tucson’s Unique Architectural Environment. More information on these and other projects available at www.preservetucson.org.  

The City of Tucson Historic Landmark designation promotes the educational, cultural, economic, and general welfare of the community and ensures the harmonious growth and development of the municipality by encouraging the preservation and rehabilitation of significant, buildings, structures, sites, objects, and archaeological resources. These designations are intended to ensure the preservation of significant historic and archaeological resources and to keep them in active use or management in their historic appearance, settings, and locations. The designation is a zoning overlay that places restrictions on the property that protect it and require approval from the mayor and council for future demolition.

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