Tucson Architecture Walking Tour, Tucson

Tucson Architecture Walking Tour (Self Guided), Tucson

Just as any city is not an accident but the result of coherent visions and aims, Tucson's architectural landscape bears witness to the city's profound historical narrative and cultural melange.

From the majestic belfries of the Saint Augustine Cathedral, adorned with the Spanish Colonial Revival-style opulence, to the resplendent Scottish Rite Cathedral (also known as the Masonic Temple), an exemplar of Beaux-Arts mastery, the architectural tapestry of Tucson is a mesmerizing portrait of grandeur and sophistication.

Emanating an aura of timeless elegance, the MacArthur Building embodies the spirit of the Art Deco movement, with its sleek contours and geometric allure. Meanwhile, the Pima County Courthouse, an architectural gem of regal proportions, exudes the grandiosity of the Mission Revival style, featuring a picturesque enclosed courtyard, massive adobe walls, broad plaster surfaces, and graceful arcades.

Just behind the Courthouse, within the atmospheric grounds of El Presidio Park, the vestiges of Tucson's Spanish Colonial past evoke an ambiance of heritage and reverence for the city's eventful history.

As the sun bathes the city in its warm embrace, the Corbett House, another resplendent embodiment of the Mission Revival style, enchants onlookers with its vibrant color palette.

Lastly, the Levi H Manning House, an impressive example of territorial-style architecture, features a beguiling blend of Spanish Colonial Revival, Italian Renaissance, and Santa Fe Territorial influences.

In Tucson's architectural realm, artistry meets functionality, and historical significance intertwines with aesthetic splendor. The presented here landmark buildings showcase a colorful blend of design styles and capture the essence of the Southwest's architectural heritage. If you wish to appreciate them up close and personally, take this self-guided walk.
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Tucson Architecture Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Tucson Architecture Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Tucson (See other walking tours in Tucson)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Author: stacey
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Saint Augustine Cathedral
  • Scottish Rite Cathedral
  • MacArthur Building
  • Pima County Courthouse
  • El Presidio Park
  • Corbett House
  • Levi H. Manning House
Saint Augustine Cathedral

1) Saint Augustine Cathedral (must see)

The Saint Augustine Cathedral is one of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in Tucson. Construction on the cathedral began in 1858 and was completed 10 years later. The cathedral has undergone many reconstruction projects since then including one that demolished and rebuilt most of the structure.

Pope Pius XI was pope at the time the building was erected. Therefore, it is his coat of arms that adorns the cathedral. There is also a 12th century crucifix from Pamplona, Spain that hangs in the vestibule. The cathedral's interior is just as impressive as its exterior, with a soaring nave, ornate altars, and intricate murals and paintings. The cathedral also houses a number of historic artifacts, including a 17th-century altar and a 19th-century pipe organ.

Today, the church remains the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson. Visitors are welcome in the church during services or special events. Even for those simply wishing to walk by, the cathedral is worth stopping by to enjoy the stained glass windows and the representation of the Mission San Xavier del Bac.

Why You Should Visit:
Lovers of architecture will be stunned by the artistry that went into building this cathedral. Even those who are not Catholic will walk away with a sense of awe at the building's beauty.

Those who want to see the inside of the cathedral should plan a weekend trip, though confessions are open on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Scottish Rite Cathedral

2) Scottish Rite Cathedral

The Scottish Rite Cathedral is a historical building located in downtown Tucson, Arizona. The building is one of the most notable landmarks in the city, and is an important part of Tucson's cultural and architectural history. The Scottish Rite Cathedral was designed by noted architect Henry C. Trost and was completed in 1915. The building's distinctive design features a blend of Gothic and Renaissance Revival styles, with a stunning exterior adorned with intricate stonework and ornate carvings.

Today, the Scottish Rite Cathedral serves as a cultural and community center, hosting a wide range of events and performances throughout the year. The building's large auditorium is a popular venue for concerts, theatrical productions, and other performances, and its elegant ballroom is a popular spot for weddings and other special events. In addition, the Scottish Rite Cathedral is home to several historic artifacts, including the Valley of Tucson Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, which contains a fascinating collection of Masonic regalia, documents, and other historic items.

The Scottish Rite Cathedral is open to the public for tours and events, and is a popular destination for history buffs, architecture enthusiasts, and anyone interested in Tucson's rich cultural heritage.
MacArthur Building

3) MacArthur Building

MacArthur Building is a triangular-shaped building in the city of Tucson. It was built in 1907-1908, was originally known as the Heidel Hotel and d was remodeled into the MacArthur Hotel in 1944. The hotel included a restaurant, saloon and barbershop and was built to serve passengers arriving via the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot. The hotel closed in 1979 and was renovated for office use in 1985.

The design of the structure is peculiar, as it can look like a flat building, depending on the angle. The architects of MacArthur Building were Holmes and Holmes. The building has been the city's landmark for over 100 years. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Pima County Courthouse

4) Pima County Courthouse

The Pima County Courthouse is a historical building that once served as the main courthouse in the region. From 1930 through 1977 it was home to the Pima County Superior Court. After that point, and through 2015, the courthouse was home to the Pima County Consolidated Justice Court.

Today, tourists in Tucson can visit the Pima County Courthouse to marvel at the Mission Revival and Spanish Colonial Architecture. The building recently underwent renovations that transformed the building to its original adobe color. Previously, the building was known for the pink paint, which was applied in the early 1950s.

The courthouse isn't just beautiful on the outside. Tourists can enjoy the interior of the building while they visit the offices of Southern Arizona Heritage and Visitor Center, which are open daily.

The Pima County Courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places. One of the most famous outlaws to be tried in this building was gangster John Dillinger. Dillinger and his gang were caught in Tucson in 1934. For four days, visitors were able to pay a fee to walk by the cell to catch a glimpse of the infamous gangster.

Dillinger wasn't the only famous face to grace the halls of the Pima County Courthouse. Actor Clark Gable was tried at the courthouse and found guilty of negligence in a car accident. Some 40 years later, actor Johnny Depp also faced a traffic violation in the courthouse.

The building has also been used for films, including the 1976 version of "A Star is Born" and the 1980 comedy "Stir Crazy."
El Presidio Park

5) El Presidio Park

Between the Old County Courthouse and City Hall lies El Presidio Park. What looks like a simple park actually has a very long and storied history.

The land was first used as a park in 1776. It also served as a military garrison for the Spanish and American settlers. In 1862, the area was designated as a free zone. It wasn't until the 1970s that it became a park once more.

Today, El Presidio Park is nearly three acres of green space, a rose garden, veterans memorials and art installations. It is not uncommon to see festivals taking place in the park, including the Tucson Folk Festival and the Tucson Meet Yourself Festival. It is also a popular spot for political rallies, celebrations and weddings.

Tourists should stop at each of the memorial statues to develop an understanding of the changes that took place over the years. They can also see an original marker of the walls of the old Presidio.
Corbett House

6) Corbett House

The Corbett House is a popular stop for lovers of arts and architecture. This Mission Revival style home belonged to the J. Knox Corbett family from the last 19th century through the 1960s.

The Corbett family was a prominent family of Tucson, thus the house was one that was frequently a hub for parties and society events. It was also furnished with fine European arts and furniture. It houses one of the area's first air conditioning units. It was also rumored to hold a gin still during prohibition.

J. Knox Corbett was a mayor of Tucson and his wife, Lizzie Hughes Corbett, was the daughter of Tucson City Council member Samuel C. Hughes.

Visitors can take guided tours of the home on Sundays. It is not open to the general public.
Levi H. Manning House

7) Levi H. Manning House

The Levi H. Manning House was built during the turn of the 20th century. The home was created in an area called Snob Hollow and was originally a 12,000 square foot mansion. Since that time, it has been expanded into a 30,000 square foot space that functioned as an events center. Today it is a popular spot for visitors on walking tours of the city.

Levi H. Manning was mayor of Tucson. He built his fortune in mining, but was also active in the early days of electricity. He is credited with using an electric trolley system in the town to replace the horse and buggy.

The home is not currently in use or open to the public, but it has been used as a headquarters for the Elks Lodge and as a special events venue. Those on walking tours will marvel at the unique combination of Spanish Colonial, Italian Renaissance and Santa Fe Territorial architecture. Visitors can also spot frescoes featuring motifs of exotic birds and flowers that were painted by the artist Salvador Corona.

Some tourists may go on a ghost hunt at the Levi H. Manning House. Its reputation as a haunted house has endured for decades. Visitors have claimed to see apparitions floating by holding candlesticks before disappearing once again.

Walking Tours in Tucson, Arizona

Create Your Own Walk in Tucson

Create Your Own Walk in Tucson

Creating your own self-guided walk in Tucson is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
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