The partnership of Globe-Miami and the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture in a four-year studio project is bringing fresh eyes to the historic districts of Miami and Globe. Both challenges and opportunities are offered by the buildings here, some of which are more than 100 years old. Their stories are fascinating and complex—starting with the very materials they are made of.
In Miami and Globe—like almost every mining community of Arizona—the first dwellings were tents made of canvas. Adobe was also common, mud being easier to obtain than wood in those days. When the towns became more established, homes, stores, and offices were often built of wood. In Miami, poured concrete was a popular alternative to wood. Brick and stone were more expensive materials that came into use as the region prospered.
According to historians, adobe structures were built in the early part of the century in both Globe and Miami. They were used as housing for miners, as well as commercial buildings. Today, there are still notable adobe or part-adobe buildings on Broad Street in Globe, including 386 N. Broad, which houses Simply Sarah’s, and 290 N. Broad, the Keegan Building, which now houses Mon Journée. The last major new building on Broad Street to be built of adobe was the International House, built in 1902 and now the Drift Inn Saloon, at 586 N. Broad.
Lumber, which was heavily milled for timbers to be used in the mines, quickly became big business during the early years of Globe and Miami. At one point, more than 35 mines, both small and large, ringed the area. Two sawmills were established in the Pinal mountains as early as 1878, and wood soon became the preferred building material for both communities. The Globe Lumberyard was established in 1901 and the Schwartz Lumberyard in Miami was established in 1917 to supply the are with mining timbers and other building materials.
Miami’s town council banned wooden structures downtown in 1914, when it established a fire district. There are few wooden structures in Miami’s central area partly because most of the frame commercial buildings were demolished so that concrete structures could be built in their place. However, many wooden structures built during Miami’s early days still exist outside the downtown area. A large number of these can be seen on Chisholm and Roosevelt.
Once the railroad came to Globe in 1898, fired brick became available as a building material. One of the first brick edifices in Globe was the Odd Fellows building, at 112 N. Broad, built in 1898. One of the most well known is the old Elks building, “the world’s tallest three-story brick building,” located at 155 W. Mesquite and built in 1910. According to legend, the builder overestimated the amount of bricks needed, and kept building higher until they were all used.
One of the unique aspects of Miami is that many of its buildings were made of poured concrete. Partly this was due to cost—a concrete building was reported to cost 20 percent less than the same building made from brick. Also, Miami had many residents who were familiar with concrete as a construction material. There were local contractors who specialized in concrete, as well as many men who worked with concrete in their jobs with the mines. The first poured concrete building in Miami was the Fitzpatrick Building, built in 1909.
One impressive example of concrete construction in Miami no longer exists—the old Miami High School. According to Tom Foster, executive director of the Bullion Plaza Cultural Center and Museum, this building was extremely solid. Foster says it was so well built that when the decision was made to tear it down, it took two contractors to complete the job. The first contractor went out of business trying to do it.
After the turn of the century, locally quarried stone began to be used in Globe as the material for important buildings, such as the courthouse, the Gila Bank building, the Old Dominion Commercial Company building, and four of Globe’s churches.
Dacite and tuff, locally called tufa, are the two stones that were used in Globe, because they occur locally and are solid enough to serve as building materials. The old Globe courthouse, now the Cobre Valley Center for the Arts, was constructed of dacite in 1906. St. John’s Episcopal Church at 175 E. Oak (built in 1907) and the Old Dominion building at 190 N. Broad (built in 1904) are also of dacite.
Tuff was popular for the construction of churches, including St. Paul’s, First Baptist, and Holy Angels. According to historian Bill Haak, the tuff used for the First Baptist Church was carved from a quarry near the town of San Carlos by Mexican stonecutters.
Maurel Blocks and Terra Cotta
The materials used for two buildings in Globe are unusual—the Pickle Barrel building (formerly the Old Dominion warehouse) and the Gila Bank Building. The Pickle Barrel building, at 404 S. Broad, is constructed of Maurel cement blocks cast on site by the inventor of this construction material, Jules Maurel.
The Gila Bank building, at 292 N. Broad, was designed by the firm of Adler & Sullivan and built in 1909. Its façade is covered with glazed cast terra cotta blocks that were shipped from Chicago. Terra cotta was a popular material because it offered the possibility of rich ornamental detailing without the cost of carving stone. The terra cotta was glazed to protect it from staining and damage.
Every building’s story is different, and their stories are still evolving. With Taliesin’s partnership in Globe and Miami, those stories are being listened to, and new chapter is being written. The past is the raw material for the future.
Information in this article was found in Globe’s Historic Buildings and Miami: A History of the Miami Area, Arizona, by Wilbur A. Haak; Historic Resource Survey, Miami, Arizona, prepared by Mark E. Pry, Consulting Historian, for the State Historic Preservation Office, March 1997; and Mineral Resources of the San Carlos Indian Reservation, by Calvin Bromfield and Andrew Shride.
Patricia Sanders lived in Globe from 2004 to 2008 and at Reevis Mountain School, in the Tonto National Forest, from 2008 to 2014. She has been a writer and editor for GMT since 2015. She currently lives on Santa Maria island in the Azores.