TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - For years, the historic Hayden House in downtown Tempe has sat vacant.
But now, it’s undergoing a major renovation, restoring it to its earlier look.
“Since this is the oldest building in the Salt River Valley, I hope people will get a sense of their connection to history, and their history is still really all around us,” said architect Bob Graham of Motley Design Group.
The building was originally constructed in 1873 by Charles Hayden, father of U.S. Sen. Carl Hayden.
Known now as the Hayden House, the building was one of the first structures in Tempe.
“The property was in the Hayden family for decades. It became part of my family’s property in 1954,” said Michael Monti, the former owner of Monti’s La Casa Vieja Steakhouse, which took up residence on the site.
The steakhouse became a Tempe institution.
“We had all kinds of interesting people from around the world come in because they came to Arizona to experience the western cowboy dream, and this was part of their visit,” Monti said.
But the restaurant was sold in 2014 and sat vacant until construction recently began.
“It’s gonna be a real historic gateway into Mill Avenue,” Graham said.
Motley Design Group wants the finished version of the building to closely resemble what the building looked like when it was last restored in 1924.
“To go back to 1873 – well, most of that’s gone. But there’s a lot there from 1924,” Graham said.
A large portion of the old Casa Vieja Steakhouse has already been torn down – additions that were constructed after the building was purchased from the Hayden family. That area will be turned into commercial space and a hotel, according to Graham.
Meanwhile, Hayden House itself will be turned back over to the City of Tempe.
And Monti has one hope for the building that used to house his family’s steakhouse.
“[It] needs to be engaged with the public,” Monti said. “So they can hear the stories and imagine the figures that lived here.”