At 150 years old, the Crimson Farmstead is about as close to ancient as Mesa gets.
Not for long, though.
On June 1, the Mesa Historic Preservation Governing Board approved lifting historic overlay status, clearing the way for the Homestead at Lehi Crossing. The proposed 262-unit, four-story multi-family residential development on approximately 9 acres is at the southeast corner of Gilbert and McDowell Roads.
Today, it’s just a barren sliver of a bustling city, a sunken chunk of land surrounded by busy thoroughfares.
But in 1870, it was a very different story … The four “founding fathers of Mesa” are Charles Crismon, Frances Pomeroy, Charles Robson and George W. Sirrine; they are memorialized in a statue at Pioneer Park.
The Crismon family homestead (home and farm) was in the family for three generations.
“At the time that the Loop 202/Red Mountain Freeway was being designed, the Crismons applied for and received the historic overlay for the property through the city of Mesa in 2001, and the design of the freeway accommodated their property,” noted a presentation to the Historic Preservation Board.
The property was later sold to the city and the historic-but-dilapidated buildings were moved in 2006.
The city later sold the property to a private owner, but the historic overlay status remained until it will be formally removed.
Arianna Urban, a city planner, told the board that “the site itself is below grade …
“There’s not a whole lot to see there at this point.”
She said the second big Mesa
pioneer settlement “was traditionally a
farming property and remained so for many years.”
The location is now pegged for a
high-end neighborhood — which, the developer insists, will give a strong nod to the past.
“We are not a team of developers that are going to ignore the history,” Ben Graff, an attorney representing Sweetwater Properties, said.
“In fact, we’re going to embrace the history.”
According to Sweetwater Properties’ presentation, “Although the Crismon Farm Homestead no longer exists, the development proposes a number of items that will serve to acknowledge, honor, protect and reflect the cherished heritage of the Crismon family and historic significance of the property.”
The developer promises to “create a blend of the simple lines prevalent in early farm home design reminiscent of Mesa’s heritage, such as those used with the former Crismon Farm homestead, along with the careful selection of both traditional and contemporary materials. We have utilized a robust blend of board and batten, stucco and stone to create an articulation of mass, color, texture and light into our Contemporary Farmhouse concept.”
Sweetwater says a cafe to be called the Crismon Soda Shop will honor the historic family.
“We envision members of the Mesa community stopping to hydrate and enjoy a meal as they wrap up a morning walk or horseback ride along the Sunset Trail, which is adjacent to the SRP canal system in this area,” said the presentation.
“The trail system was important to the Crismon family, is an important community amenity and the development will serve to enhance the trail experience with new landscaping just north of the trail.”
Sweetwater Properties pledged “to collect and display historic photographs of the original Homestead structures and other significant moments of historic significance in the cafe.”
The board thought that was a nice start, but also is requiring the developer to place a plaque or “more permanent fixture” that denotes the historic nature. ′