Tempe's Hayden House undergoes renovation following five year vacancy

The iconic building will be restored back to its 1920s look, developers said

The Salt River Valley’s oldest building is undergoing a major renovation this year. 

Located right across from Mill Avenue's Hayden Flour Mill, the iconic Charles Trumbull Hayden House was known for years to the Valley for housing the now-closed Monti’s La Casa Vieja. Now, the space is getting some love from developers Hensel Phelps and Cousins Properties after it was sold in 2014.  

Robert "Bob" Graham, the principal architect with the Motley Design Group, said after the sale, the property was going to be used as a centerpiece to a new hotel and office building, but the plans ended up falling through.

The project experienced delays that concerned the city of Tempe for the building's sake and whether it would suffer under the vacancy, he said.   

The developers currently have plans to turn the house into office space for the city, but beyond that, there are no plans on what department will occupy the building, Kris Baxter, a spokesperson the city of Tempe, said. She said the building's future is likely an issue Tempe City Council will deliberate. 

“I think they intended to try to make it open to the public as much as possible to events and things like that that they would be holding,” Graham said. “In the long run, I think the hope on the part of the city, and of a lot of the preservation community in Tempe, I think would really like to see a much more public use.” 

The building will be restored back to its 1924 look, when it was being used as Monti’s La Casa Vieja.

“You really need to dig, find and research what the building looks like and the proper materials used,” Reggie MacKay of Adobe Technology said. “We have a lot of 1924 data, photos and people that are living that have (ancestors) that are familiar with the building in that period of time.”

MacKay is in charge of making the adobe bricks for the house. The bricks will resemble the home’s 20th century look and architecture to preserve the home as much as possible, even down to the soil they use for the bricks. MacKay said that the soils within a five-mile radius of the home are the same as what was used back then. 

The Hayden House has been a staple of Tempe for years, holding centuries worth of memories under its roof. It was built in 1873 and lived in by Tempe founder Charles Trumbull Hayden, and he and his wife raised their son and 57-year long Arizona senator Carl Hayden. 

“The Hayden House was where Tempe was born,” Baxter said. 

Charles Hayden had come to Tempe before it was a city and climbed what is now known as “A” Mountain to look over the Salt River, she said, adding that, "He was able to spot a portion of that river that looked like it was crossable, that looked like it could be an excellent place for a ferry service."

Hayden ended up building and running the Hayden Flour Mill and a ferrying business. The flour mill is also being renovated as a part of the “100 Mill” project, Baxter said.

The family ended up moving in 1889, and the home was used as a boarding school until it was renovated again. After, it was home to Monti’s La Casa Vieja, a steakhouse that became a major attraction to the city of Tempe. 

As for its current renovations, the timeline for the Hayden House's completion is not entirely clear, but MacKay said it will finish by December. 

"I'd see it as being the most significant building in Tempe just because it goes back to to Tempe's roots” Graham said.

Reach the reporter at nschon@asu.edu and follow @schonn2 on Twitter. 

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