Pictured above: Peter and Kayleigh Diamond’s home.
The Windsor Square historic neighborhood in Phoenix was established in 1928 and will turn 90 this year. The first home was completed in 1929 when the city’s population was just 70,000. But the Great Depression, then World War II delayed the neighborhood’s growth. Much of Windsor Square was completed when returning GI’s created a building boom. Families in the 1940s could buy a lot in Windsor Square for as little as $500. In 1955, Uptown Plaza was developed, encouraging more growth north of downtown, as well as additional housing options along Central Avenue.
Today, Windsor Square is one of the most desirable historic neighborhoods in Phoenix. It was named by Money magazine as one of the 10 U.S. “Best Big City Neighborhoods to Live In,” and New Times Magazine named it “Best Neighborhood.” The neighborhood will be hosting its 11th biennial home tour on March 11 from 11 am to 4 pm.
Participants have the opportunity to tour 12 historic homes featuring some of the latest design trends, while at the same time exploring original classic architectural highlights dating back to the 1930s and ’40s. Visitors will be able to check out offerings of fine arts and crafts vendors, partake in a beer garden, enjoy some of the Valley’s best food truck fare and listen to live music.
For Windsor Square residents Peter and Kayleigh Diamond, remodeling their historic home was filled with many memories. Kayleigh, along with her younger sister, grew up visiting their grandmother’s home in Windsor Square. After her grandmother’s passing, Kayleigh had the opportunity to purchase the home, undertaking a dramatic remodel while retaining several features from the original design.
Now expecting their second child, Peter and Kayleigh are excited to open their “new” home to the tour while sharing photos of the original house and the extensive remodel process. “I have so many fond memories of visiting Grandy; I feel honored that I can pass on this experience to my own children,” says Kayleigh.
The couple has dramatically increased the living space of the home which now totals 3,100 square feet, including four bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, an office, a bar/man cave, two laundries and generous dining and living spaces.
Phil Sheinbein and his wife, Ora, did a “ground-up” restoration of their 1945 traditional ranch-style house in 2010. The house had an additional 400 square feet added to its original 1,300 square feet in the 1950s. They added roughly 600 square feet during their remodel, so now the home is at 2,300 square feet. Perfect for the couple and their twin boys, Kol and Lev. The Sheinbein’s home was on the home tour in 2016. “It was incredibly rewarding. My wife and I were so excited to do it,” says Phil. “People were incredibly nice and gracious. It was exciting, and a little odd, to have 1,500 strangers go through your house – at the same time it was thrilling.”
Phil says about the home tour, “It’s a great way for the neighborhood, and city, to showcase that there is some history here and we can celebrate that history. Also, people are willing to invest in preserving it, even when it’s more work.”
All changes to historic homes must be approved by the City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office. Instead of a home owner’s association, the neighborhood has the Windsor Square Special Planning District, of which Phil is in his second year as president, having served on the board for three years before that.
The planning district deals with the 286 homes and the commercial properties that fall within its boundaries. The boundaries of the Windsor Square district are Missouri Avenue to the north, Camelback Road to the south, Central to the west and Seventh Street to the east.
“We have a lot of oversight responsibility,” explains Phil. These responsibilities cover everything from program planning for residents to re-zoning issues. “The city empowered the historic districts when they created these (planning districts) to be able to have more oversight and minimize the impact of the commercial interests – we want to preserve the character of the neighborhood.”
Phil says that the developer who restored Uptown Plaza did a great job, taking it back to its original red brick and neon attributes. He and his family like to walk or bike ride to the many vibrant and great retailers close by.
The “walkability” of the neighborhood is just one of the many reasons that Phil returned to the North Central neighborhood area where he grew up. “It’s a place where we have a sense of community,” he says. “Ultimately, this the most critical part. We know our neighbors; we see everybody out – we have a true sense of community here.”
Windsor Square Historic Home Tour
When: Sunday, March 11 from 11 am to 4 pm
Where: Orange and 2nd Street (one block east of Central Avenue and just north of Camelback Road)
Tickets: $20 day of event ($17 in advance) adults, children ages 12 and under free