Friday, August 7, 2015


Currently in Flagstaff AZ (Low 51 Storms Around High 75) 

We love the weather in Flagstaff that has allowed us to do something in the middle of the day instead of running from air conditioned space to air conditioned space. We toured Riordan Mansion State Park. Riordan Mansion is the story of the Riordan brothers who were involved in lumber, railroad, banking, cattle, and politics. To make the story even more interesting the two brothers who built this house, Timothy and Michael, married the Metz sisters.

The style of the house is arts and crafts. The architect was Charles Whittlesey whose name is no doubt recognized to those familiar with the hotels built by the railroads out west. Charles Whittlesey was the architect for the El Tovar Hotel at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Some of the similarities between the structures include massive stone arches at porch corners and rustic exterior consisting of log planks (for this home it was pine native to the area), wood shingles, and native stone (for this home it was volcanic rock). 

The two sisters wanted to be close to each other so the brothers had almost identical 6000 sq. ft. homes built with a 1000 sq. ft. common room between them. The architect called the room the rendezvous room while the brothers called it the cabin. Here is the mansion from the parking lot.

The visitor center is the original 6 car garage. The 13000 sq. ft. were built in less than one year finishing in 1905. Photos aren't allowed on the first house we toured, the east side residence of Timothy Riordan and his family. Bob got this picture before he was told. 

This is the unique ice box configuration just inside the entry of the house at the servants entrance. Ice was brought in and placed in the top area. The deliveries of groceries was placed in the second compartment accessible from the kitchen inside.

Here are photos from the other side of the house, Michael Riordan and his family, where photos are allowed, don't worry Bob didn't get into trouble :-)

Religious art was throughout the house, more on that later.

Although almost identical structurally the homes were decorated differently. The best example of that is the stained glass. On the Timothy side the stained glass windows were tulips, here is a photo from the outside since you couldn't take pictures in that side of the house.

On Michael's side the stained glass was Arizona Poppy.

Here is the outside of the house showing the rugged exterior and arches.

The flowers outside were beautiful.

An incredible family story and a family home. The Riordan's were proud Irish Catholics and contributed to the building of the 'Church of the Nativity' which we will blog about later.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

1 comment:

  1. That seems just so strange to build exactly the same house. I can be close to your sister, but really.

    The ice entrance is very interesting. Never heard of it.