Document Sample

Property Name:                                                 Significance: C
W.C. Smith & Co. Bldg./Florence Commercial

Location:                                                      Number: F1-18
                                                th    th
710 Main Street; west side of Main between 6 & 8
Physical Address:                                              Florence, AZ
374 North Main Street
Florence, AZ 85232
Owner:                                                         Zoning: DC
Apache Carlos LLC
Mailing Address:                                               Acreage: 6995 SF
1547 East Caroline Lane
View:                                                          Update: 2008
From Northeast
Style or Cultural Period:                                      Present Use:
American-Victorian/High Victorian Italianate(original          Commercial - Florence
bldg front)                                                    Market

Significant dates:
Built in 1890; 2nd story burned in 1948
Physical Description:
This deep relatively tall one-story commercial block originally consisted of two sections
of differing height: a two-story eastern half on Main Street, and a one-story western half
on Granite Street. A 1948 fire destroyed the second floor portion, reducing the structure
to its present one-story height. The building is rectangular in plan, built with its south
façade on the (original) 7th Street property line, and its east, north, and west facades on
their respective property lines. Approximate building dimensions are 43 ft wide, 145 ft
deep, and 22 ft high (present condition: original 2-story section stood approximately 40 ft
high to the highest point of its pedimented cornice). The side and rear exterior walls are
of locally-made sand-struck brick. The front façade on Main Street, fabricated by
Mesker Bros., St. Louis, originally of pressed metal, cast iron, wood and glass has been
altered by the 1948 fire damage and subsequent use of large areas of stucco on frame,
plus a recent cantilevered sidewalk canopy of aluminum. Rolled asphalt roofing covers a
timber-framed gable roof. Interior spans a center-axis of the building. Two large
rectangular steel-framed skylights help illuminate an interior corridor in the rear half of
the building. With a carefully-research effort based on manufacturer’s catalogs and early
photos, this building could be restored to near-original condition. Though the second
floor and upper half of the street façade are gone, they are reconstructable, the integrity of
the ground floor and basement interiors are basically intact, and the original Queen Anne

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Style glass “window wall” shop front is safely in storage.
Statement of Significance:
This building’s significance rests on both architectural qualities and historical
associations. This large American-Victorian brick commercial block was designed by
Phoenix architect James M. Creighton, probably Arizona Territory’s first architect
(Creighton also designed the Second Pinal County Courthouse of 1891). When details of
its construction were first announced, Florence’s newspaper editor announced that the
new W.C. Smith & Co. Building was to be “an ornament to the place”. In fact that
building’s qualities succeeded admirably in expressing the local feeling of exuberance
and high aspiration which were excited by the canal boom of the late 1880s. A
particularly American-Victorian characteristic of the design is Creighton’s extensive use
of prefabricated building components, including the ornate original front façade, interior
columns building cornice and window caps; all manufactured in St. Louis by “Mesker
Bros. Front Builders”, shipped by rail to Casa Grande, and freighted across the desert to
Florence for final on-site assembly. In addition, the building’s location, bulk and height
made it for many years the major focal point on Main Street for travelers arriving in
Florence. The building was designed for William Cairnes Smith, Scottish born Casa
Grande businessman who opened the second Florence branch of his general merchandise
operation here in 1890. Later, the building housed the Shields and Price (later the Price
and Powell) Florence Commercial General Store. An old time resident recalled that you
could buy everything here “from a needle to a freight wagon”. The second floor was
used as quarters for the local A.O.U.W. Lodge. Despite loss of the upper story by fire
(1948), the ground floor continues in use today as one-half of a supermarket (the other
half is F1-58).
Verbal Boundary Description:
Assessor’s Parcel No. 200-41-021

South 43 ft of Block 105, Townsite of Florence, plus 20 ft adjacent on the West plus 8 ft
by 55 ft adjacent on the South, plus 8 ft adjacent on the West.

Note: Information included in this form originated from Harris, J. Sobin. Photos were taken jointly
by brothers Chet and Jesse Earley, Eagle Scout candidates in Boy Scout Troop 904, Florence,
Arizona on May 23, 2008.

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