Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights
Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights has been a beloved Phoenix landmark since its construction in 1929. Originally meant to be a hotel surrounded by a garden of exotic cacti, the building and grounds were purchased within two years by Edward A. Tovrea, a leader in Arizona's cattle industry. Mr. Tovrea died in 1932, leaving the estate to his wife, Della Tovrea, a socialite who later married William Stuart, publisher of the Prescott Daily Courier. Several improvements were made to the site in the 1930's, when the grounds were used for entertaining by Della Tovrea Stuart who was prominent in Arizona politics of the midtwentieth century. In 1960, Della moved into the Castle as her permanent home, living there reclusively until her death in 1969.
When the City of Phoenix purchased the property in 1993, the Castle's condition had deteriorated to the point where the City felt it necessary to close the site to the public. Westlake Reed Leskosky was hired to restore the building to its original condition and to update it to meet current code requirements, with a view toward opening the Castle as an interpretive center and house museum, now situated at the center of the Phoenix metropolitan area.
The $2.5 million restoration of this hand-made, historic building was challenging and complex due to the many fascinating features that make Tovrea Castle and the surrounding land unique. Phase I involved asbestos and lead abatement, cactus relocation, and temporary roofing. Phase II focused on deteriorated building elements, code deficiencies, and ADA accessibility. The original doors, windows, wood flooring, plaster and ornamental painting were restored. Extensive structural modifications to the existing floors, basement walls, and tunnels were made, as well as repairs to the stucco walls. Another challenge was complete electrical systems replacement and the sensitive insertion of new HVAC in an historic building that never had any cooling.