PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A drive down Seventh Street near Washington Street gives you a rare look at Arizona's past -- a must-see for many tourists and residents alike. But, like many establishments closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, it's been a long time since visitors have been welcome to explore areas such as Heritage Square fully. But, now that's changing.
The outdoor spaces at Heritage Square have been open, but not the shops, museums, and restaurants that reside inside historic homes. After being closed for months, the iconic Rosson House Museum at Heritage Square is set to open for public tours starting Friday, May 7, 2021.
"We closed last March due to COVID, opened in September, and then closed again in December when the numbers spiked," explained Sarah Matchette, the visitor services manager of the Rosson House Museum. "This house needs people, as any home does, including ours, even though this is a museum."
This three-bedroom, one-bathroom home is one of several historic houses at Heritage Square, which is the location of Phoenix's original townsite and settlement, dating back to the late 1800s. The crown jewel is the Rosson House, and with its elaborate design and detail, it's hard to miss. "Pre-pandemic, we would get people from out of town, such as snowbirds or people coming in for spring training," Matchette said. "But in the three months we had been open, many visitors were locals wanting to explore their own cities and their own hometowns."
The Rosson House, which Dr. Roland Lee Rosson built in 1895, is a striking Victorian home that sits on its original foundation. Rosson served as the mayor of Phoenix for a short time, so the home is sometimes called "The Mayoral House." A walk through the property is a time capsule of the past; all the furnishings inside are from that period. It's a true look into the home life of Arizona's territorial days.
The home, which cost $7,500 to build in the 1890s, was purchased by the City of Phoenix in the '70s and restored to its original condition. It was a six-year project with a price tag of $750,000. Matchette says today's equivalent of the restoration cost would be a little less than $2 million. But, she says it's worth preserving that history and important for residents know it's here and available for public viewing.
Eleven different wall coverings, such as paint and wallpaper, were found throughout the house during the renovation. Today, the home appears almost exactly as it did when it was built -- inside and out. The goal was to keep as many original touches as possible. For instance, the parquet wood floors, much of the outside brick, the wooden Queen Anne-style staircase, and even the kitchen sink are all original. "We also have some original family pieces inside," Matchette said. "Four different families lived in the home before it became a boarding house in the 1940s."
Although you'll find the home featured on haunted tours from time to time, Matchette says she has never had a supernatural encounter. Still, the idea that Rosson House might be haunted draws even more people to see it, and that's something Matchette welcomes.
Rosson House will be open for tours beginning Friday, May 7, at 10 a.m., with the last tour at 4 p.m. Up to six people will be able to tour at a time; social distancing will be enforced and masks required. The Visitor Center will be reopening to the public, as well. The Bungalow Museum Store, however, will be open only to museum guests.
If you love history, technology, good food, or just a quiet place to reflect, a visit to Heritage Square and the Rosson House might be just the perfect family outing for you.