10 Oct The Awesomeness of Historic Roosevelt
By Sherry Rampy
While delivering newsletters last month, I was struck with just how truly amazing our neighborhood is. Roosevelt has had and continues to have an incredible diversity in architectural styles and uses. The people that have shaped the neighborhood and City that have and continue to call it home have been just as diverse and amazing.
Internationally acclaimed artists and architects have and continue to call Roosevelt home as well as mayors, state legislators, founders of non-profits and museums, school board members, developers, Emmy award winnings journalists, craftsmen, professional athletes, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and all round awesome neighbors. Their stories are so interesting that I’ve decided to highlight one such neighbor a month (this is a goal, not a promise).
As I was deciding where to begin, I was reminded of the loss of two friends that had a huge impact on Roosevelt, Alec Tanner and Kris Lowery. Kris Lowrey, a real estate broker, introduced “lofts” to Phoenix bringing a developer from Denver to transform a horribly dilapidated 1929 apartment building amidst vacant lots into what we know today as ‘The Fillmore Lofts’ at Second Avenue and Fillmore. This was a huge risk and many thought they would be another of Downtown’s development disasters. ‘The Fillmore Lofts’ were the first and happily Downtown has yet to see the last of its Loft projects.
Kris went on to convert what was originally built in the 1920’s as another apartment building but lastly served as a group home for paranoid schizophrenics into the ‘Fontenelle’ at Third Avenue and Roosevelt.
Alec Tanner also transformed a dilapidated group home into a landmark property. In 1998 at the age of thirty, he purchased 303 West Portland Street which had operated as the ‘Casa De Amigas Group Home’ for longer than he had been alive. It had enclosed porches, rolled roofing, and aluminum slider windows. Thankfully, it also had a grand curved staircase, coffered ceilings, and pocket French doors that framed the view of a stately fireplace. He hadn’t been looking for a historic restoration project when he fell in love with his home, but neither were Angel and Mike Penneli, who became his neighbors after stopping in an open house next door. They too restored a dilapidated home into one of the jewels of the neighborhood (AND it’s on tour this November 15th during our annual home tour…just a quick tout!!…mark your calendars…and those of your friends!!).
Alec went on to restore and renovate over thirty-five homes in central Phoenix, many within the neighborhood inspiring others to do so along the way. When asked why he was restoring a home on Lynwood he replied, “because I can make it beautiful”.
Alec Tanner and Kris Lowrey became best friends. While they both passed away last year and we can’t enjoy their laughter any longer, their presence in the neighborhood can still be enjoyed and appreciated.