The first of its kind, the Eisendrath Center for Water Conservation is an educational campus located just north of the Arizona Historical Society Museum, at 1400N.
College Avenue in Tempe. The complex is anchored by the beautifully restored 1930s pueblo revival adobe house originally owned by early-20th-Century winter resident Rose G. Eisendrath.
Designed of concrete, adobe and wood by Valley architect Robert T. Evans, the Eisendrath House was restored and natural desert preserved thanks to $4.3 million raised from 2005 to 2015 through the Rio Salado Foundation partnering with the city of Tempe, Salt River Project (SRP), Salt River Pima- Maricopa Indian Community, Vestar, and the Tempe Historic Preservation Foundation. The Foundation began in 2001 to ensure the success of the Rio Salado Project and has contributed $15 million plus $4.3 million toward Eisendrath House. Bob Graham and Motley Design Group, Phoenix, completed the architectural and engineering design for the rehabilitation and also designed the site work, parking lot/drop circle and the new meeting room and restroom block north of the main house.
“Great things really do take time, and our patience has officially paid off,” said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell at an event following the official grand opening weekend.
In 2001, the city purchased the Eisendrath House and the nine acres that remained of the original 40-acre property. Rose Eisendrath, widow of a Chicago glove manufacturer, acquired the parcel, known as the “Elfin Hills” portion of Papago Park, on April 23, 1930. She commissioned the two-story house after being refused accommodation at a Valley resort because she was Jewish. She named her home “LOMAKI,” Hopi for pleasant home.
The pueblo-style building now houses Tempe’s Water Conservation Program and the Rio Salado Foundation offices. Largely returned to its 1930s floor plan, the two-story adobe structure is set with period furniture and galleries with interpretive educational panels highlighting Robert T. Evans’ work and the importance of the Valley’s adobe revival during the ’30s and ’40s. Plans include interactive displays that will tell the city’s water story.
Adjacent is the SRP Water Education Facility, a freestanding building used for water conservation classes as well as meeting space where civic, educational and neighborhood organizations can hold meetings, classes and special events upon request.
“SRP is proud to be a part of preserving the legacy of Eisendrath House, which is an integral part of Tempe’s history. It serves as a unique example of environmental sustainability in the early 1900s and why it remains important today,” said the company’s community outreach manager Rosemary Gannon.
Kim Knotter, executive director of the Eisendrath Center, adds: “The campus is a unique public resource that combines recreational and learning opportunities based in the themes of water, history and environmental awareness. We want adults and children to understand the importance of making better decisions for the environment.”