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Investing in Phoenix's Timeless Beauty

A Journey Through the 35th Annual Historic Willo Home Tour

On Sunday, February 18th, 2024, history came alive as enthusiasts and curious minds descended upon the historic Willo neighborhood in Downtown Phoenix. The 35th Annual Historic Willo Home Tour was a testament to the preservation of a bygone era, where the investment in real estate transcended mere property values—it safeguarded the rich tapestry of Phoenix's past.

Nestled between Thomas and McDowell Roads, stretching from 1st to 7th Avenues, Willo emerged in the 1920s as one of the first historic suburbs on the outskirts of Phoenix. What was once undeveloped agricultural land has now transformed into one of Phoenix's oldest and most picturesque neighborhoods. As the sun dipped below the palm-lined streets, visitors embarked on a journey through time, guided by the warmth and hospitality of the tight-knit Willo community.

The Willo Home Tour, a hallmark of this vibrant neighborhood, celebrated its 35th year with 14 unique homes open for exploration. Each residence showcased a distinct architectural style, ranging from Tudors and Bungalows to Spanish Colonials and Ranch styles. This journey through the past wasn't just a stroll through homes; it was an investment in the preservation of history.

Organized by the Willo Neighborhood Association, this annual event attracted visitors from across the nation, all eager to witness the charm and preservation efforts of Willo. The event served not only as a cultural spectacle but also as a fundraiser supporting the Willo Conservation Plan—a testament to the community's commitment to preserving its heritage.

The Street Fair accompanying the Home Tour was a vibrant celebration of local craftsmanship and artistry. Over 100 vendors offered handcrafted goods, jewelry, antiques, and local artwork, creating a bustling atmosphere reminiscent of a historic marketplace. The classic car show added a touch of nostalgia, harking back to an era when automobiles were works of art themselves.

Live entertainment reverberated through the streets, with the Lee Perreira Trio and DJ Orbit Corbett captivating audiences on the main stage. Music echoed from each home, creating a harmonious backdrop as guests traversed the historic streets. Trolleys efficiently circulated, ensuring that every corner of Willo was accessible, making the exploration of the historic homes a seamless and enjoyable experience.

Willo's history unfolded like a well-preserved manuscript during the tour. From the agricultural roots in the late 19th century to the flourishing period of construction in the 1920s, the neighborhood mirrored the growth and prosperity of Phoenix. The Period Revival movement in the 1930s brought forth a variety of architectural styles, but the Great Depression momentarily stalled the construction fervor.

The mid to late 1930s saw the resurgence of development, fueled by the establishment of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). French Provincial and Monterey styles emerged, laying the foundation for the Ranch Style houses that characterize the northern section of Willo today. However, the 1940s marked the end of prolific subdivision development in the area.

The 1980s presented a pivotal moment for Willo as residents successfully secured its status as a special conservation district. The Willo Conservation Plan was born, ensuring that this slice of Phoenix's history remains untouched by the encroachment of commercial development. It was an investment in time, culture, and identity—a promise to future generations that the beauty of Willo would endure.

As the sun set on the 35th Annual Historic Willo Home Tour, visitors left not just with memories but with a sense of having invested in the preservation of Phoenix's vibrant history. The Willo neighborhood stands not only as a testament to architectural diversity but as a living, breathing entity where the past intertwines with the present. This year's tour wasn't just a stroll through homes; it was an investment in the timeless beauty that defines Willo, ensuring that its history echoes through the ages.

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