Catalina Foothills Surprising Story!

Catalina Foothills AZ!
Catalina Foothills Developer John Murphey

Catalina Foothills in Tucson AZ for $10 an acre?  Would you have bought it?  They say that hindsight is 20/20.. and that is true!  However.. back in the Great Depression, John W. Murphey had offered lots of  Foothills land for sale at $10 per acre, and NOBODY would buy it!  They said it was worthless land!

Catalina Foothills Real Estate

Look at the Catalina Foothills today, and you can clearly see that the land is anything but worthless!  It makes me pause and think about the real estate that I have bought and sold in the area. If you hold on to something long enough.. it becomes valuable, at least in the Foothills.

Having lived in the Catalina Foothills myself for a number of years and after sending my son to the local high school, even I was surprised to learn the amazing history of this area.

If you are interested in the amazing history of the  Foothills as I am, then please sit with me for a few minutes as I share with you the amazing story about the Catalina Foothills in Tucson AZ!

I Buy Houses - Catalina Foothills Tucson AZ
Video Transcription

But back in 1921, 1920 this was all federal grazing land. The federal government had allowed cattle ranchers to go ahead and ranch in this area and have their cattle be grazed all through this area. So back then there was nothing here. What I’m going to tell you today is the story of how the Catalina Foothills in Tucson came about. Stay tuned!

The history of the modern development of the Catalina Foothills dates back to the early 1920s. Prior to that, the Catalina Foothills was primarily federal trust and open rangeland that was used for cattle grazing. Back in the 1920s, land developer, John Murphey, began purchasing property north of River Road in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The development he envisioned was for 10 subdivisions with large lots, often with three acres or more. Within the subdivisions, the lots would be laid out for maximum privacy. Use of the natural terrain, preservation of desert vegetation and wildlife and mountain and valley views. In addition to other smaller purchases, in 1928, Murphey bought a 7,000-acre tract of land north of River Road between Oracle Road and Sabino Canyon at a federal land auction. After the stock market crashed the following year, Murphey sought to sell some of this land to an Arizona banker for $10 an acre. The banker refused the offer on the grounds that the land was absolutely worthless, and around that same time, Josias Joesler, a Swiss architect, was retained to implement Murphey’s vision.

Residential development in the Catalina Foothills began in the 1930s and Joesler designed a number of those homes, Catalina Foothills District 16. Joesler also designed the buildings now occupied by the Catalina Foothills School District near River Road and Campbell Avenue. The Foothills population was great enough in 1931 that the community members launched an effort to create its own school district. Catalina Foothill School District 16 began with nine students, three of whom were John and Helen Murphey’s children, and school was held in the Murphey’s garage. The Catalina Foothills School District 16 had outgrown the garage and John Murphey sold the district 2.2 acres for $10 in 1939, and Joesler designed this district’s first school, the first school building, which today is occupied by district administration. Joesler’s own studio, which he built himself, is a charming adobe brick and tile building that has been well preserved and restored.

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