CAREFREE, AZ(3TV/CBS 5) - The founders of Carefree were a pair of business partners that dreamed up a concept for a community during a meeting at a luncheon in Phoenix in 1946.
It was during a Kiwanis Club get together at the Adams hotel when K.T. Palmer and Tom Darlington first met. There, over an afternoon meal, they discussed a plan for an ideal Arizona community. Civic leaders in their own right, they both felt inspired to create a better living environment. It was years later when they found themselves working in Scottsdale that their dream finally began to take shape.
Darlington and Palmer had different personalities that complimented each other in partnership. An Idaho native, Darlington was the more outgoing of the two; he was a talker who worked was a publicity agent for a while before World War II. During the war, Darlington was a plant manager in Phoenix. When the war ended he decided to stay in Arizona. Palmer was more of an introvert, a thinker. The Mississippi native came to Arizona in the 1920s for health reasons. He received a law degree from U of A and owned a successful business.
In 1955 the pair had opened a real estate office, Darlington Palmer Realtors, in Cave Creek. It was at this time that land for the future town was secured with the purchase of a 400-acre goat farm that was merged with 2,200 acres of surrounding acreage. The property had abundant water and rolling hills filled with abundant desert beauty. They named their business venture the Carefree Development Corporation.
Plans for the community were meticulous. There were architectural guidelines set that protected mountainside from being built upon, development was kept in harmony with the natural desert landscape to best preserve the vistas. The target resident for Carefree was someone with money; homes were sold for $60,000 to $80,000, several times the cost of a similar one in Phoenix or Scottsdale.
The town’s memorable street names, such as Easy Street, Ho Hum Road, Lazy Lane, Never Mind Trail, and Nonchalant Avenue, were conceptualized by friends at a dinner party gathering. It turned out to be an interesting marketing gimmick.
A unique feature, the Carefree Sundial is the largest in North America, and the third-largest in the world. It measures 62 ft. long and rises 35 ft. off the ground.
Carefree can boast of other unique firsts. Skyranch Airport opened in 1961 as the first Arizona airport to offer residents Fly-in access to their homes. Broadcaster Hugh Downs built the first home in the community. There are many desert style golf courses in the west, but the first one in the Southwestern U.S., Desert Forest Golf Club, was built in Carefree in 1962.