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  • Two County projects earn historic preservation awards

    May 08, 2015 | Read More News
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    Two Pima County capital improvement projects have won awards at the local and state level for their impact on historic preservation.

    Officers QuartersLas Capas siteThe Arizona Preservation Foundation and the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office/Arizona State Parks will honor the acquisition, protection and rehabilitation of the 1880s Officers’ Quarters on the Adkins parcel in Fort Lowell Park at a May 15 ceremony at Northern Arizona University. The project was a partnership between the city of Tucson and Pima County.

    On May 2, the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission and Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation also honored the project as well as a second project -- the Las Capas archaeological project at the Tres Rios Wastewater Treatment Facility. The area has been recognized as one of the earliest agricultural sites in North America.

    Officers’ Quarters (OQ) 3 in Fort Lowell Park is among seven officers’ quarters and a number of other military buildings that encircled a central parade ground from 1873 to 1891. The footprint of the original fort is now bisected by Craycroft Road.
    OQ3’s restoration included using traditional mud adobe to repair walls, replacing a wrap-around porch with a historically reconstructed porch using physical and photographic documentation, reconstructing masonry chimneys, replacing wood windows and doors, and improving drainage systems.

    “At Fort Lowell, the City and County worked closely together for 10 years, never losing sight of the goal of preserving the history and telling the soldiers’ stories as well as the people who lived there before and after,” said Loy Neff, who managed the projects for Pima County’s Office of Sustainability and Conservation. “The project was a success because of strong citizen support of the 2004 Bond program and the diligence of the project’s citizen advisory committee and Fort Lowell’s neighbors.”

    The Las Capas project was a partnership with the Pima County Cultural Resources and Historic Preservation Division (CRHPD) and Desert Archaeology Inc. (DAI). Las Capas is located within the Tres Rios (formerly Ina Road) Wastewater Reclamation Facility. 

    DAI discovered that alluvial deposits covered most of the excavated sites associated with Interstate 10 transportation corridor improvements that were initiated in the early 1990s. The discoveries came during the facility’s expansion -- part of the county’s Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department’s Regional Optimization Master Plan. The plan allows the Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department (RWRD) to meet current environmental regulatory requirements mandated by the Clean Water Act.

    “The Las Capas project arose from the need to comply with cultural resources compliance requirements,” Neff said, “but over the project’s eight-year lifespan, RWRD soon outstripped mere cooperation, transcending from responsible party to enthusiastic project sponsor.”

    Archaeologists conducted the excavations at Las Capas from 2007 to 2009. The project uncovered an extensive canal and field system, clusters of small houses, and hundreds of other features, according to the award nomination. The holes where corn was planted were well preserved, owing to flooding and alluvial deposits that rapidly covered the fields. The field system was rebuilt many times after flooding, resulting in multiple layers of fields over several centuries.

    “The Fort Lowell and Las Capas projects are excellent examples of successful long-term collaboration between government agencies, private interests, and citizen volunteers to achieve the goals of historic preservation to illustrate, educate, and confirm Pima County’s rich cultural heritage, connecting to our sense of place in the history of southern Arizona,” Neff said.