The Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood

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Anglo

Anglo families were attracted to the neighborhood in the 1920s also. One of the well-preserved officers quarters from Fort Lowell was for several years used as a sanitarium. The Adkins family bought the land which is now at the corner of Craycroft and Fort Lowell roads in 1928. The land had been part of the Fort, with three officers quarters, the end of the parade ground, the jailhouse, and other buildings. There the Adkins began the business which has become the "Adkins Steel Manufacturing Co."

The Bolsius family came in 1934. Charles Bolsius discovered the ruins of the store and tavern which "Pie" Allen had built. John B. "Pie" Allen's store was sold to Frederick Austin around 1873. John B. Allen was mayor of Tucson in 1877. This location had also been used for several years as a sanitarium. The place appealed to Pete, Nan, and brother Charles Bolsius. They bought it and spent many years making it into their home. They planned and did a good deal of the labor themselves -- with the help of some of the El Fuerte men. Nan Bolsius carved all the doors. They had lived in Santa Fe for a time and they carried to their new home the Santa Fe look. It was a labor of love.

Pete, Nan, and Charles Bolsius
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Pete, Nan, and Charles Bolsius

A few other Anglo families lived in the neighborhood as well: the well-driller Mr. Jordan, Dr. and Mrs. Donald Hill of Hill Farm, A.E. Douglas of Pantano Farms, all of whom came in the late thirties and built homes and farms.

Mexican workers at Hill Farm [26K] [FL6]
Mexican workers at Hill Farm

After World War II, the face of Tucson began to change. The Mexican people of El Fuerte began to think about moving elsewhere. A new stage in the history of El Fuerte began. Edward H. Spicer, "Ned," and his family liked the closely-surrounding desert, the feel of not being hemmed in, the dirt road, and the Mexican community. In 1946 they bought the house built by Ramon Diaz and began to make their own additions to it. The same process began with many of the other simple adobe houses.

[26K] [RS2]
The Spicer home after renovations

In 1946 there were a few wire fences marking off the properties; the land was bare except for a few mesquite trees. There was little undergrowth and one could see in all directions -- everything had been cut for firewood or for building. Wells were going dry and neither water, sewer, nor gas lines extended into the area. There was electricity and there were a couple of telephones. One adjusted, as ranchers and farmers always had.

The Mesquite Bosque was there -- it was too marshy and had too many sink holes to be built on -- until the water table lowered drastically in the late 1980s. The Corbett Ditch was still used for irrigation by the Hill and Douglas farms, but other ditches which had been built by the Mormons could only be detected by the mounds of earth which had been their banks.

Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the neighborhood changed from being Mexican to being Anglo. Another stage in the long history of this place was beginning. It was a stage which no longer was so directly connected with the abundant water at the confluence of the Tanque Verde, Pantano, and Rillito streams. But it was there because of this water.