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Archaeology in Tucson Newsletter

Vol. 12, No. 3

A structure depicted on a portion of the 1 862 Fergusson map was located during the project. Richard Willey 's research indicates that this may be the Presidio blacksmith shop. North is to the left on this map.

Tucson's Earliest Hotel

The adobe structure was torn down sometime in the 1860s, probably as the area was redeveloped as Tucson's first hotel expanded. In the late 1850s, Robert Phillips began renting rooms out to people. Eventually the Phillips House was sold to Hiram Stevens, a prominent Tucsonan, who remodeled the structure in 1874 and opened it as the Hotel Cosmopolitan. Between 1874 and 1883 he added a curved rock wall to the west side of the structure, probably to help keep traffic away from trees and a garden area. We uncovered a portion of the rock and mortar wall, which was demolished in 1935 when the Orndorff Hotel, as it was known by then, was torn down to put up a parking lot. Traces of the parking lot also were discovered, lying beneath 3 feet of recent fill that helped protect the site.

confirm or negate this possibility, we will need to conduct further excavations in the area, to the north and south, to verify whether the wall is continuous and to examine how it was built and how it relates to other structures.

One thing is clear: thousands of visitors viewed the excavations. Many were on their way to collect tax forms from the nearby IRS office and happened upon the dig. Classes of school children visited the site. Others came after seeing or reading news stories. Archaeologists provided updates on what was being uncovered, volunteers identified artifacts that were displayed, and literature about Tucson's Presidio was distributed. The community was excited by the opportunity to explore Tucson's long-buried history.


Uncovering a Buried Past

The Center's excavations have illustrated that much more of Tucson's Presidio past survives than had been previously thought. Although basements and underground parking lots have destroyed some areas, many other areas have intact cultural deposits.

The discovery of architectural features in the City Hall lawn was particularly exciting, prompting us to wonder if this might be a portion of the west wall of the Presidio. In late April 1998, a panel discussion brought together experts from various fields to examine this topic. After the Center's findings were present- ed, Tom Peterson of the Arizona Historical Society illustrated how historic photographs provide clues about the past. James Ayres summarized historical archaeology work undertaken in the City of Tucson, beginning with the Tucson Urban Renewal Project in the late 1960s. Thomas Sheridan discussed the role the Tucson Presidio played for people in the area. Lastly, Armando Elias described the importance of the Presidio for local residents. Opinions differed as to whether the wall uncovered represents the west wall of the Tucson Presidio. To

Rediscovering el Presidio de Tucson was funded by the City of Tucson, the Arizona Humanities Council, the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission, the Tucson Presidio Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Center for Desert Archaeology. Volunteers performed much of the work. Thanks to Aron Adams, Connie Allen- Bacon, Ruth Amirault, Carter Beach, Jeanette Berry, Georgiana Boyer, Mark Brodbeck, Jason Brownlee. Mike Cook, Ray Coville, Ginny Dean, Don Duey, Steve Farley, Kevin Feig, Ken Fite, Jack Flanders, Bob Flaugher, Elaine Flaugher. Cheri Freeman, Jan







Harshmann, Alycia Hayes, Donn Ivey, Foster Knutson, Soni Marvin, Betsey Marshall, Ann McClelland, Laura McFall, Janice McMillen, Mary Lu Moore, Jerryll Moreno, Joe Orabone, Ken Orabone, Robin Owen, Joan Petit-Clair, Dwight Riggs, Lynda Rigoletti, Lauren Sanders, Sally Sanders, Angela Shelley, Itorye Silver, David Smith, Jared Smith, Hector Soza, Mickie Soza, Jean Stern, Margi Sternberg, Donna Tang, Sheri Thompson, Tinake VanZandt, Suzanne Vieta, Jim Vint, Mary Wagner, Lou Washaeur, Mason Washaeur, Mike Washaeur, Josh Watts, Josh Weber, Jennifer Wiedhopf, Pat Wiedhopf. Patty Whitley, Mike Woods, and Pat Young.

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