Although Anthony and Debbie Moncayo lived only a mile away from West Second Street, for the past 37 years they had been coveting the neighborhood from afar. They admired the tree-lined streets, the irrigated lots, the sidewalks where people are often seen walking their dogs, and the friendly neighbors sitting out on their porches.
Then, last year, all the stars aligned when they retired and a home they liked came up on the market.
“The timing of everything was such that it worked out this time,” Debbie Moncayo remembers. “Before things would come available, but our kids were still in college, something would come up for sale and we weren’t considering moving...”
West Second Street is Mesa’s first historic district, having existed since the city was established. Some of the most prominent middle and upper-class families built homes here in the early 1900s. The neighborhood was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998, and nowadays its residents organize a yearly self-guided walking tour of select homes.
The neighborhood’s 50 homes are probably the most architecturally diverse in all of Mesa. The streets display some of the last remaining citrus-lined medians.
But aside from the houses, what’s outstanding about the area is the pride of this community and the preservation efforts made by its residents, individuals who have invested large sums of money renovating their homes, successfully integrating the past with the present.
The “Hanna Richards House” was built around 1927 as the residence of Mrs. Richards and her children. Later, a dress shop owner named Sam Fried lived in the house though the 1940s.
The property is said to illustrate the transition in style from the bungalow of the 1920s to the period Revival movement of the 1930s.
Finally, the last homeowners lived in the house for 50 years and completely renovated it before selling it to the Moncayos.
“When we walked in, we really didn’t have to do anything inside the home because it had been completely remodeled,” Debbie says, “so we focused our energy on the outside, updating the landscaping. We had a swimming pool put in. … We had a couple of sheds built.”
The house featured two bedrooms and one bathroom before the addition of a master bedroom with en suite bathroom sometime in the 1970s. Over time, the kitchen was also extended a little toward the back of the property.
Although it looks deceivingly cozy from the street, the house is now a total of 1,500 square feet, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms — very spacious for a couple.
Besides, as Debbie points out, “Every nook and cranny has storage. It hasn’t been hard to store our belonging and keep them out of plain sight.”
That being said, the homeowners underwent a considerable downsize from the previous home where they raised their two girls.
“It was really a fun challenge,” Debbie says, “trying to figure out how to really downsize in terms of furniture and belongings. We had to downsize our lifestyle too.”
Debbie Moncayo was pleased with the result, pointing out that “this style of home complements my style of decorating so it worked out really well.”
Many of the charming characteristics of the original house are still there today. For instance, all of the windows, a light fixture in the dining room, the glass door knobs, the front door, and the bathtub. Everything else has been tastefully renovated and decorated in a modern yet classic style.
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