As a member of the Junior League of Phoenix, I recently visited a perfect slice of Arizona’s history located in downtown Phoenix: The Rosson House. A group of JLP ladies spent time on a beautiful sunny Arizona day and took a tour in order to decide which rooms we would adopt to put up a Christmas tree and decorate for the holidays.
I had never been inside The Rosson House before but had often wondered what the inside looked like. Admittedly, I didn’t even know much about the house before the tour other than assuming it was historical (shameful for someone who grew up in Phoenix, I know!). I grew up seeing this random Victorian-style house sitting in downtown Phoenix that seemed clearly out of place in today’s ever-changing landscape and always thought that one day I might venture inside to see it. So glad I finally did!
As it turns out, the whole street used to be lined with houses similar to this one and it was referred to as Millionaire’s Row back in the day. Just to the south were smaller, older homes; some of which also still exist and now house businesses such as the original Pizzeria Bianco and The Rose and Crown. Soccer Fan tip: The Rose and Crown is also an official Liverpool FC pub. #KopitesUnite!
The smaller homes and The Rosson House are all now in an area referred to as Heritage Square in downtown Phoenix.
The Rosson House is a two story, beautiful, fully-restored 1895 Queen Anne Victorian house now functioning as a museum in Phoenix. If you take a tour, you’ll be guided through the house stopping to view everything along the way (minus the attic). You will see a glimpse into the past and gain an appreciation for the luxuries technology has provided us since this time period. If you live in Arizona, you’ll have a new-found appreciation for air conditioning and be grateful you didn’t have to cool your house down in the same manner as the residents of The Rosson House which involved having transom windows above the inside doors that could be opened to allow for the air to flow more freely by cross-flowing.
The house and decor were restored to their original time period in the 1970’s with the help of the Junior League of Phoenix and it has been showcasing its restored glory since. Some photos of the interior:
The name of the house comes from Dr. Roland Lee Rosson and his wife Flora Murray Rosson, who commissioned the house to be built (though they lived in it very briefly). Dr. Rosson was a physician and surgeon who also became involved in Arizona politics holding several offices (coroner, mayor, county treasurer) and also lost a race for sheriff as well. Rumor has it that he had this home built to impress the movers and shakers of the time as he ran for office.
Dr. Rosson kept his office in one of the rooms in the back of their home, including a table, medicines, and supplies. There’s also a strange 3-D type of diagram of the human body on the wall which would have no doubt served as his guide to practicing medicine and determining the root cause of issues for people.
The home itself is definitely impressive. The staircase in the front of the home flows beautifully and a window is intentionally placed to showcase when the residents were gliding down the stairs to meet their VIP guests. If someone was coming down that staircase, you could be sure they were having guests over they wanted to impress and that they wanted the neighbors to know about.
Otherwise, it’s said they used the much more simplified staircase in the back of the house to come and go from.
In keeping with the theme of keeping tabs on neighbors, there was also a French turret in the front of the house that faces the direction that the other homes were located. The space in the turret on the second floor was likely used as a sewing nook and provided a view of who was coming and going in the neighborhood.
Interestingly, modern accommodations such as electric lights, both hot and cold running water, and a telephone, were luxuries that the house was built with. The kitchen also boasts an impressive oven that could be moved if necessary (or maybe to cook outside when the summer months are too hot?):
You could really plan a good date in the Heritage Square area! There are several things to do, see, and eat in the area. I would suggest starting out on a Friday or Saturday by touring The Rosson House for one of the later tours (last tour at 3pm these dates) and then heading over to the original Pizzeria Bianco to put your name on the list (reservations not accepted). You can sip on some drinks while you wait (which could be awhile) at Bar Bianco next door.
Details for tours of The Rosson House:
- Mondays: CLOSED
- Tuesdays: School Field Trips & Group Tours only
- Wednesday through Saturdays: 10:00am – 4:00pm (Last tour starts at 3:00pm)
- Sundays: 12:00pm – 4:00pm (Last tour starts at 3:00pm)
Call 602-262-5070 for details.
Closed most holidays.
Groups of 8 or more require reservations.
$9 for adults
$8 for seniors/military/AAA/students
$4.00 for children
You can purchase tickets here or on-site.
Have you been to The Rosson House? What was your favorite part about it? Let me know. 😉
(Note: Though these photos are mine, they have been used with permission by The Rosson House. Additionally, the photo in the heading at the top is a close up shot of the interior wallpaper in The Rosson House Museum at Heritage Square).