For students in ASU’s American Humanics program, that dream is now reality with the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Encanto Garden of Dreams at Encanto Park this Friday at 8 a.m. The Garden will be an education center for youth from area schools, nonprofits and other organizations to learn about low-water usage vegetation, the need for conservation and sustainability in our desert environment. Funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, it is a collaborative effort of the American Humanics program, part of the ASU College of Public Programs; the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation; and the City of Phoenix’s Parks and Recreation Department.
An Ongoing Project
“Even though the grand opening is on Friday, technically it will never be completed,” said Tiffany Bailey, a senior in the American Humanics program, who has headed up the project for the past 1 ½ years. “There will constantly be new projects going on.”
The hope is that this unique area, located west of Enchanted Island, bordering the parking lot, will become a well-utilized community space. It has seating walls, an abundance of open areas, surrounded by mesquite trees, agaves, yuccas and other plants.
Bailey noted ASU is setting up a request for proposal (RFP) process so community groups will be able to apply for funding for service projects that benefit the Garden.
“It’s cool on both sides,” she said. “Now students will be able to be on the other side, learning about approving grants.”
A Different Vantage Point
While Encanto Park was not the original destination for the Garden—the students were looking at what is now Civic Space—it ended up being the perfect fit for the underused Cactus Garden, according to Jan Sherwood, City of Phoenix’s Park Manager for Encanto Park. Maintenance needs are low, she added, because of the drought-resistant plants and desert landscape.
“It certainly brings a new viewpoint to the park,” Sherwood said, who added it was “kind of a weird area” in the middle of the grass, but not necessarily a destination unto itself. Now it’s an area where you can do lesson plans and talk about conservation issues. It’s also very serene, a great place for reflection,” she said.“We’ve always enjoyed great community involvement and the Garden is an extension of this.”
Embedding ASU in the Community
The project first took root at the 2008 American Humanics Management/Leadership Institute. At that time, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation asked a group of ASU American Humanics students what they would do if they had $100,000 to spend. In response, the students submitted a proposal to create a community space which ultimately became the Encanto Garden of Dreams. ASU Lodestar Center not only helped secure the grant, but has provided both fiscal and programmatic assistance to the students.
“It ended up doing what it was designed to do—bring multiple groups of people that have community care together,” said Dan Minton, program coordinator senior for the Lodestar Center.
He said it will provide an opportunity for students to go out and meet with youth from local nonprofits to collaboratively work on educational projects. There’s no question it’s already been an education for the students involved. Bailey said this has been a major learning experience for her—from purchasing materials to working with a budget and learning how to stage events.
“This project involved a number of people and organizations that made it possible and, thus, provided a terrific laboratory for students to learn about community development,” said Dr. Robert Ashcraft, Executive Director of the Lodestar Center. “Students learned about how to take ideas, adapt to community needs and wishes, collaborate and negotiate in ways that have resulted in something everyone can be proud of.”
But, beyond the education, for ASU, the Garden embodies a broader goal of being an integral part of the community it serves.
“For our Center, this has meant we can demonstrate community impact by not just talk or only through hypothetical case studies,” Ashcraft said. “Establishment of the Garden means our students, our ASU Lodestar Center and the University are socially embedded in the community in ways that advance the quality of life for citizens.”
From the Arizona Room is a weekly column examining the historic, reuse and infill structures in Downtown Phoenix. The inspiration for this column stems from the ever-expanding resources in Burton Barr Central Library’s Arizona Room (located on the second floor). For further information on this and other historic structures in the area, visit the Arizona Room during normal library hours.
15th Avenue at Wilshire Drive (Encanto Park)
In the 1930s, when Encanto Park was springing to life, the city needed a focal point for its first-ever municipal golf course. On the “banks” of the man-made lake in the center of the park, the Encanto Park Clubhouse was erected.
Original architect Lee Fitzhugh planned the clubhouse in 1936 as part of the biggest parks and development program in Phoenix’s history, settling on an immaculate Spanish Colonial Revival design. Lescher and Mahoney, noted architects in their own right and designers of the Orpheum Theatre, among others, finished the project later that year.
It’s a sturdy hunk of a building — brick, with a concrete foundation and a sandblasted exterior. Over 75 years, the alterations have been minor, cosmetic touches, such as replacing and fixing the clay roof tiles, often victims of the Phoenix summer sun. A brick elevator shaft was also added to suit city code.
Exceptional Spanish Revival details include intricate brick banding at the parapet and chimneys. The hipped, flat roof reveals exposed rafters below. The original pergola offers shade to the intimate offset entryway. It was built as the definitive structure of the park and golf course, and it still does not disappoint decades later.
Encanto Park is indeed ever-transitioning (pick up a February/March issue of DPJ magazine for all the details), but it’s a true boon to the city that such an excellent central structure remains intact.
Source: City of Phoenix Historical/Architectural Survey of City-Owned Properties, August 1986
Is there a historic property in Downtown Phoenix you’d like to see in From the Arizona Room? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the address and a brief description.
The second issue of DPJ magazine hits the streets of Central Phoenix on Tuesday, January 25, and there are plenty of reasons to pick up a copy at January’s Radiate PHX or one of 300 or so locations nearest you:
- Find out how light rail is fueling a pedestrian culture in Downtown Phoenix, from First Friday to running daily errands
- Utilize a four-page pull-out Artlink map to visit some new places on your next First Friday adventure
- Discover how Encanto Park has evolved over 75 years
- Uncover a 100-year-old hidden gem in Garfield that draws in visitors from all over the world
- Take a look at CASS’ operations on the Human Services Campus and how it is sculpting the makeup of Downtown
- Hear what Downtown spot is Phoenix Suns power foward Hakim Warrick’s weakness
- Check out the evolution of PHXRailFood.com
- Read restaurateur Sam Fox’s thoughts on Downtown as he readies The Arrogant Butcher at CityScape
- Stay up to date on all of the latest Downtown buzz and events
- …and more!
The Arizona Republic published a telling story on Encanto Park this past weekend, detailing the decay and neglect the 75-year-old park has gone through in recent years due to budget cuts, prolonged drought patterns and misuse. The reality is sad, but hardly shocking: sewage issues, increasing repairs, facility decline and some hefty storms in recent years have left the park a shadow of its former self. The article nearly decries Forbes‘ recent claim that Encanto is one of America’s top dozen or so “urban parks,” and a visit will all but confirm it. Unfortunately, upkeep has dwindled and problems have piled up. The city’s decreased budget simply doesn’t have room to fix most of the problems. None of this, by the way, has affected the crowds — it is still one of the city’s busiest weekend spots.
I’m not hating on Encanto. In fact, I prefer it to any other Central Phoenix park. I play basketball there weekly. I regularly bike through its (admittedly dwindling) shady pathways. I love the neighborhood. But, there is no denying the park and others near our Downtown are in tough times.
What parks do you frequent? Hance, Steele Indian, University, Verde, Civic Space, Central, Grant, Coronado, Monterey? All of these parks need help in some way or another. If you’d like, pitch in your suggestions for fixes, or simply let us know which park is your favorite. We all need a place to enjoy the outdoors. Let’s make sure to cherish our parks, and keep their fragile states in mind the next time we visit.
This blog might go down as my own personal attempt at a Man vs. Food battle, or it might have opened the flood gates for more gluttony. You will have to be the judge of what carnage may this way come.
I realized that I rarely venture to the west side of Downtown Phoenix. This is something that must change. But, because I shoot hoops on a weekly basis at Encanto Park, I am fully aware of the tantalizing smells that waft down 15th Avenue from The Original Burger Works. It definitely makes for a formidable distraction.
So, after a round of lobbing up airballs, I felt it finally time to find out if the heavenly scents were tied to some amazing, gut-endusing cuisine. I mosey (this was required for the full experience) into the doors to find a place in line. The extensive list of burgers and a congo line of toppings makes for a big decision. My eyes finally landed on the Classic Burger, a half-pound of beef topped with mushrooms, bacon and my personal choice of cheese (provolone, duh).
I waited patiently for my medium-cooked burger in the lively bar area. Seemingly, all of the patrons knew each other and were willing to dish out the dialogue loudly. I’m not sure why we all had to know that Steve (who was trying to quietly enjoy a Bud Light at the bar) sucks at golf, but we all found out anyway.
Aside from the colorful chatter in the bar, there is a cool covered patio where you can enjoy your burger and a game of horseshoes. Those types of things always go together. I chose to enjoy the colorful patrons and my enormous burger in the bar area.
Once it arrived, I knew that I had the typical case of my eyes being bigger than my stomach. But, that didn’t stop me from taking my fresh burger over to the DIY topping bar and loading it up with tomatoes, pepperocinis, lettuce and all the fixins. Once this beast was topped off, it was truly a sight to behold. For all of the anticipation, this burger delivered a fresh, beefy response to my annoying hunger. My empty stomach took the elbow drop of this half-pounder on and it was an epic battle to the finish.
Eventually, my glutton-like desire took over and I knocked out the epic burger (albeit, slower than my compatriots). I offer you the task of knocking out a Phoenix favorite in the Classic Burger. Heck, try to knock out any of the half-pound burgers. It truly is a task that will push your stomach to the fullest it has been in a while. In my humble opinion, they should change the entrance sign to “Welcome to Burger Heaven.”
The Original Hamburger Works is located at 2801 N. 15th Ave. in Encanto-Palmcroft.