Knowledge Center

  • Cultural Resources Spotlight: The Smurthwaite House

    Greta Rayle, M.A., RPAUnless you’ve stopped to read the plaque hanging by the building preserved through Section 106 at 1317 W. Jefferson Street in Downtown Phoenix, you’re probably unaware that this beautiful Queen Anne style home is truly a little piece of history.

    Headquarters of the Pioneer Cemetery Association, the building was designed and built in 1897 by renowned Phoenix architect James Creighton. Dr. Darius Purman and his wife Mary commissioned construction of the home and two adjacent homes within Block 46 of the Churchill Addition, an early subdivision platted by entrepreneur Clark Churchill in 1887.

    Smurthwaite House

    Smurthwaite House

    Though originally intended as a boarding house, the residence was purchased by Civil War veteran Trustrim Connell in 1903. Trustrim was a noted war hero, having won a Congressional Medal of Honor for capturing a Confederate flag just days before Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. He resided at the home with his wife Eliza, daughter and son-in-law Caroline and Charles Smurthwaite, and their child Carolann until his death in 1937. When the Smurthwaites divorced in 1937, Caroline and Carolann remained and operated an antique store out of the home until their deaths in 1971 and 1982. Following Carolann’s death, the home was willed to the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, the Heard Museum, and the Phoenix Art Museum, who donated the property to the City of Phoenix. In 1992, the residence was moved 26 blocks west to its current location at the Pioneer and Military Memorial Park.
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  • Street Enhancements: Project Investment & Community Planning

    Many communities in the western United States face a twofold obstacle to effective community planning. These communities must balance popular demand for visually appealing streetscapes with limited city budgets and resources to construct and maintain them. On top of that, environmental consultants are tasked with the difficult process of cost-estimate analysis for these street enhancement projects.  This requires extensive interagency and interdepartmental cooperation, as well as regimented data collection processes, to substantiate long-term funding needs.

    Logan Simpson’s work with the Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization can provide us with one such example of how community planning teams can organize data to build community consensus.

    In this project, the City of Cheyenne was faced with implementing several streetscape redevelopment initiatives. Following an extensive collaboration with the Cheyenne MPO, the Cheyenne Public Works Department, the Cheyenne Parks and Recreation Department, Laramie County, and the Wyoming Department of Transportation, Logan Simpson developed a mechanism that assists in the selection and cost estimation of right-of-way enhancements

    The system is a combination of three documents: 1) the Cheyenne Area Street Enhancement Toolbox, 2) the Cheyenne Area Streetscape Enhancement Worksheet, and 3) the Streetscape Enhancement Best Practices Analysis.
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  • The Class I Cultural Resources Overview: A Developer’s Best Friend

    Chris Watkins, MA, RPAIs there anything quite like deep sea fishing? Once that line is in the water, you’re never quite sure what you are going to pull up, assuming you even get a bite. Experienced fishermen have certain expectations when they go to sea; some fishing spots are better than others, one type of fish is much more common in one area of the ocean than another. I would be surprised if I pulled up say, a mermaid, but who knows? The ocean is a big place after all.

    The work of cultural resources is a little like deep sea fishing. We, as archaeologists, can’t be 100 percent sure about what is under the ground until we start digging. With the immense desert landscape in Arizona, cultural resources are sure to be present in various locations. In keeping with responsible environmental planning practices, archaeologists are regularly tasked with protecting culturally significant artifacts from damage that may result from modern development projects. However, we do have tools and techniques that we can put to work to greatly narrow our expectations about what might be present beneath the ground surface.

    One quick and effective tool is the Class I Cultural Resources Overview. In a Class I, an archaeologist will research a project area, whether it is the route of a proposed road project or a new development to determine if any archaeological sites have been located nearby. This includes the summary of any previous archaeological investigations. In some cases, more time intensive techniques, such as an archaeological survey, have already been implemented. Therefore, we can say with a high degree of certainty if cultural sites are in the area. In other cases, we can look at nearby sites, the general environment, and other resources, and assess the likelihood of cultural resources being present in the given project area.
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  • Evaluating Visual Effects of Projects on Traditional Cultural Property

    Kathryn Leonard, M.A., RPA

    In this article, we will analyze how the National Register Bulletin 38 affects evaluations of visual resources in the assessment of cultural resources – specifically, properties the National Register has defined as Traditional Cultural Property.

    National Register Bulletin 38 establishes a general definition for Traditional Cultural Property (TCP) as a particular type of historic properties that is “eligible for inclusion in the National Register because of its association with cultural practices or beliefs of a living community that (a) are rooted in that community’s history, and (b) are important in maintaining the continuing cultural identity of the community.”

    Like cultural landscapes, TCPs are not considered an “official” NRHP properties type. However, unlike cultural landscapes, they can take the form of all five NRHP-recognized properties types:
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  • Vision + Visualization

    Jeremy Call, RLA

    The effectiveness of community planning from leading organizations can be traced back to their stated vision or – in some cases – a lack thereof. A mission statement, or vision, that combines timeless principles with passion and purpose can have a powerful influence on a firm or team’s legacy.

    For city managers, vision statements are narrated through strategic, general, and comprehensive plans. However, for land managers, aspirations take the form of “desired future conditions” and “management goals” with respect to resource management plans. All too often, the core statements of the planner’s vision gets lost in the vast documentation, if found at all. The proverb, “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” can easily be referenced to important realities faced in community planning. “Where there is no vision, the resources perish, and so does the community. read more

  • Historic Archaeology with Logan Simpson Design

    Mark Hackbarth, RPALogan Simpson Design recently completed a historic archaeology project in downtown Phoenix at the construction site for the new Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Complex. LSD has extensive experience conducting recovery excavations, archival research, and documenting and evaluating historic archaeological sites in the Old Phoenix Townsite.

    In May 2012 construction crews at Fifth Avenue and Jackson Street unexpectedly unearthed graves predating 1885. LSD  archaeologists responded to complete a phased data recovery excavation and burial recovery project while construction activities continued elsewhere on the site. The archaeological dig and associated research brought to light the city’s mysterious, long-forgotten cemetery and failed railroad company. read more

  • Community Values Form the Basis for Parks and Open Space Planning

    Jana McKenzie, FASLA, LEED-AP

    Jeremy Call, RLAAs the recession loosens its grip, cities and counties are putting deferred maintenance and capital projects behind them and strategically positioning themselves for future growth by investing in parks and open space. Compelling community planning visions are built upon shared values of community identity, community health, and—while some may shy from this word—community happiness. Communities can leverage their parks and open space system to help enliven old neighborhoods and commercial areas, attract and retain employers, improve safety, and overall physical and economic health. read more

  • Section 404: More than Just Waters

    Jeremy CasteelWhether our client is a state, a municipality, or even a private developer, the shadow of environmental compliance under Section 404 is often cast over their various development goals, dreams, and ventures.

    And unfortunately, because of its high level of complexity, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ comprehensive Clean Water Act Section 404 permit program may be difficult for even the experienced “permittee” to fully comprehend. Add into consideration the subjectivity inherent to a Section 404 Jurisdictional Delineation or permit application, and those without a history of spotting how the necessary regulations evolve are likely to be all the more overwhelmed. read more

  • Integrating Accessible Access into a more Universal Environment

    Jerry MoarLike many who read the story and saw the second grade class photo at Herbert Spencer Elementary in New Westminster, B.C, I was heartbroken by the separation of 7-year old Miles Ambridge (far right) from the rest of his classmates.

    With a huge grin on his face, Miles, diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, is leaning as far as he can just to feel like a part of the group. And though the photographer did not  deliberately separate Miles from his classmates, there’s no doubt that with a little more consideration and a little more understanding, the photographer and teacher could have avoided the hurtful mistake altogether. read more

  • NEPA Considerations: Environmental Justice and Just Sustainability

    If you’ve ever worked on a project with a federal nexus (federal funding, crossing federal lands or expected impacts to air or water regulated by federal law), chances are you’ve addressed Environmental Justice (EJ) through the standard approach. You likely began by asking yourself a number of important questions.

    Would the project adversely impact the environmental or human health conditions of minority or low-income communities? read more