The first decades of the 21st century have witnessed a rather dramatic renaissance

Glendale Historic Society photo, sugar beet factory.

of craft shops such as Meli Lips that offer an array of traditional products such as natural soaps, shaving products, and oils.  These shops dovetail perfectly with another trend, restoration of historic business districts.

When discussions turn toward historic district renovation in Arizona it is Prescott, Tucson, and now Kingman that often come to mind. Glendale with its rich and diverse array of historic structures should be added to that list, especially in light of developments in recent years.

Founded in 1892 by William John Murphy, with the establishment of an Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad link to Phoenix the town of Glendale blossomed. Incorporated in 1910, the city was soon the largest in the northwest valley. Glendale today ranks as the fourth largest community in the state of Arizona. 

The rich and diverse history of the community is made manifest in ten historic districts, and more than twenty significant buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Exemplifying the city’s interest in preserving its historic heritage was the restoration of the Morcomb Gas Station in the Myrtle Avenue Historic District by the Glendale Historical Society. Built in the early 1930’s by Ed and Bessie Morcomb at the corner of Grand and Myrtle Avenues, the station and Morcomb home were constructed of locally produced bricks.

The Santa Fe Railroad Depot and Humphrey & Davidson Building, both built in 1895, are among the oldest buildings in the city. At 6729 N 57th Drive stands Desert Rose Cigar Lounge and Club housed in the former Glendale Blacksmith Shop built in about 1898. The Forney House at 7534 North 61st Avenue that was built in 1893 is another survivor from the 19th century. Territorial era buildings of note include the C.L. Gillete Building, 1909, and the First National Bank of Glendale Building, 1906. The Hine Building (cover photo) was built in 1913, one year after statehood.

The years between WWI and WWII was a period of dramatic change in Glendale and there are an array of tangible links to this era. At 6738 N. 54th Drive stands the largest adobe building in Glendale, formerly a two story home. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Glendale Grammar School was built in 1920. At 7009 N. 58th Avenue is the building that housed the El Rey Theater in the 1920’s. Formerly a dime store, the Robert C. Cole Building was built in 1919.

For anyone who can remember I Like Ike buttons, the Edsel, and tail fins it can be difficult to think of buildings built in the 1950’s or 1960’s as historic. Glendale is fortunate to have an array of buildings from this period as many communities cleared this era of buildings during later 20th century urban renewal projects.

Discover exciting, dynamic, and historic Glendale, Arizona. And while you are in the neighborhood stop by Meli Lips for quality natural soaps, and catch a glimpse of the future.

Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America