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The European influence on Joeslers design today.

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The Grande Dame of the Foothills

Josiah Joesler's GIANT Pivot at 11 Arches

A century ago, the men and women who helped shape Tucson's national identity decided that catering to people in the east with respiratory illness was not the future.

Instead, in the early 1920s, they launched The Tucson Sunshine Club to attract the wealthy seeking winter homes to escape the snow and ice. And it sure did work. The population ten years later had jumped by 60%, according to R. Brooks Jeffrey, an architectural historian at the University of Arizona.

And it brought serious affluence with it. In 1937, famed local architect Josias Joesler took some of the new design ideas by famed architect Irving Gill that were popping up in San Diego and Santa Barbara.

Instead of the Joesler "rural romantic" designs we recognize today -- with high beamed ceilings, small rooms and tile roofs – Joesler embraced those new modern European designs with towering structures that were less ornate.

It was a completely new take on foothill living. It was precisely the approach that the developers wanted to lure the super wealthy. And it worked. In 1937, the Eleven Arches residence was developed for Louis N. Grace, the daughter of shipping magnate W.R. Grace, to serve as her winter residence.

What resulted was the largest mansion in southern Arizona. The massive home spanned 270 feet across the 75 acre hilltop, framed by the Catalina ridge to the north. The massive 15,502 square feet structure, with 17 bedrooms (most larger than the entire homes Joesler had designed previously), 15 full baths, two powder rooms, and a restaurant-size kitchen with walk-in refrigerator.

The entire Grace Mansion, also known as Eleven Arches, was a huge departure for Joesler, Jeffrey said, noting that it was emblematic of the evolution of Catalina Estates.

Of the design, Joesler wrote, "the residence had to be designed for modern living but without going into harsh modern design; I wished to achieve some softer feeling in the exterior design and to harmonize it with the lonely desert surroundings. It took as one motive, the Catalina range in the background which climbs up from the West to a high point behind the house, and slopes off again on the East; this gave me the idea of a high central feature with low wings at the sides, thus following the line of the mountains."

After the heiress died in 1953, the house was left to famed New York modernist painter Clive Gray. A steady stream of global artists wandered the grounds as the giant home began to fall into disrepair. It was later given to Up With People, the iconic troubadour group that would tour the world from its base in Tucson.

In 1976, James Moore bought the property and started renovating the home that was, he said, in "deplorable" condition after years acting as a commune for hippies. After a five year multimillion dollar restoration by the current owner, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Demion Clinco, a student of regional architecture, said the current owner’s efforts to save the property from demolition preserved an early and important design example of streamlined modern Art Deco in the Catalina Foothills.

"This project allowed (Joesler) to flex his design muscles in new ways in a large scale," he said, adding that "it brought the allure and mystery like the Wrigley Mansion" in Phoenix.

Today, the elegant mansion at 5201 N Hacienda Del Sol Road is listed for sale for $6.5 million by Thalia Kyriakis of Russ Lyon Sotheby's International Realty. She said that just standing in the home or on a terrace brings forth the spirits and tranquility created by Joesler's work. "This is Joesler’s residential masterpiece.”

  • The European influence
  • Just a hint of Joesler's more recognizable Catalina Foothills styling.
  • The living room in 1939 with some funky interior design.
  • A towering entrance in 1939. Bigger. Boxier.
  • The European influence on Joeslers design today.
  • Giant bedrooms rarely seen in other Joesler designs
  • Unusual to find a second floor in his design
  • Patios with beamed ceilings remain.
  • Thalia Kyriakis with Russ Lyons is the listing agent for this beautiful home.