Vintage Phoenix Business: Tovrea Castle
Even if you don't know it by heart, you certainly know Tovrea Castle -- the wedding cake-shaped building perched above Loop 202.
Photo by Andrew Pielage Roger Lidman from the City of Phoenix and Tamera Zivic from the Tovrea Castle Society overlook the castle lot.
Besides being a compelling visual landmark, Tovrea Castle is an eclectic piece of Arizona history. Alessio Carraro, the castle's builder, was an Italian immigrant from San Francisco with a fruitful sheet-metal business, and he wanted his own version of a European castle in his adopted city of Phoenix. He intended to make it into a small hotel and hoped that visitors would then be inspired to buy homesites on the surrounding land.
Even though it never actually opened as a hotel, the castle has features that were built for such a purpose, like an outdoor game court, horseshoe pit, and fish pond, and an annunciator machine in the kitchen that would be used to call attendants to each room.
A man ahead of his time, Carraro enjoyed using recycled and previously used materials in the castle, and several of its features, including dark wood cabinets in the kitchen and a massive safe in the basement, came from the Phoenix National Bank.
In 1932, E.A. Tovrea and his wife, Della, bought the castle from Carraro and left their own marks as designers on the property in the years they spent there.
The 44-acre Tovrea lot contains not just the castle, but several smaller buildings and structures directly related to its operation over the years. Among these is a small cabin occupied by Alessio and Leo Carraro as they built the castle, a well house complete with a signature Carraro sheet metal roof, and the original machine shop, now used by the City of Phoenix and property groundskeepers.
Toward the end of 2010, the Tovrea Castle Society, a nonprofit group, was founded in order to keep the castle available for public appreciation. A visitor's center was built in late 2011, and the castle opened for tours in March 2012 -- so now you can see inside, too.
Explore more of this year's Best of Phoenix 2013 multimedia content here:
Best of Phoenix has arrived. Dig around, you're guaranteed to find something you like. Click on the image (or right here) to visit our plate wall, where you can explore this year's slideshows, videos, and podcasts.
Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Phoenix® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com.