It was a warm Saturday in June 1970 when Kayla LaBran first set eyes on the Glendale community and home that would become her own decades later.
She said a classmate's family had recently moved to a new house in the "sticks," and invited their daughter's eighth-grade class to a celebration party.
As if residing with two adorable ponies just off the back patio wasn’t enough, the fact that the home came with stairs took the entire class of preteens over the edge. In 1970, few homes in Arizona were two stories, and this trilevel sported two sets of stairs.
Kayla, who had been surprised with a horse named Justin as an eighth-grade graduation gift, was mesmerized by the Sunburst Farms community that day.
Sunburst Farms was established in 1970 by Hallcraft Homes, and located at 43rd Avenue and Banff Lane, north of Thunderbird Road.
The builder offered 10 floor plans with square footage ranging from 1,200 to 2,600. Houses were built on an acre of property complete with irrigation, and the builders offered buyers the option to purchase adjoining lots to expand their homestead.
Prices ranged from $30,000 to $35,000 in an era when the average home in the Phoenix area sold for $16,300, according to U.S. census data.
The developer marketed Sunburst Farms as a community that offered “farm living within the city limits and provided a quick ‘take-off’ position for Northern Arizona resorts, as well as hunting, fishing, and winter sports," according to advertising from the era.
That same June, Kayla discovered Sunburst Farms, and a mere 10 miles away, LeRoy McDonald became the first Grand Canyon University baseball player selected in the Major League Baseball free-agent draft.
LeRoy, a transplant from Las Cruces, New Mexico, had led the ‘Lopes to their first-ever college world series.
Eight years later, and following several seasons in the minors with the Carolina League, LeRoy had enough of road miles in the back of beat-up buses.
Arizona beckoned, and in 1978, LeRoy began teaching in the same school district where his future wife had also accepted a position.
Kayla and LeRoy married in 1981, and welcomed three children and two homes before finding their farm.
The couple bought their home in Glendale three days before Christmas 1992. The house was in rough shape. They immediately went to work making it their own, and over the years have transformed the once “hot mess” into a charming retreat.
Nearly all of the work has been done with the couple’s own vision and craft.
They partially removed a wall separating the kitchen and dining room, and gutted the kitchen. They transformed the carport into a double garage, and built a large back patio.
Kayla handcrafted, designed and laid the tiled walls in the kitchen and bathrooms while LeRoy headed up the major construction projects. He, along with their sons, built an inviting front porch with an elevation and roofline that scream curb appeal. A beautiful red door is the signature focal point tucked in behind the expansive front porch.
Three bathrooms highlight antique dressers repurposed as vanities. The master bedroom and bathroom are currently undergoing a makeover featuring hardwood floors and a roomy walk-in shower.
Rustic furnishings and leather sofas beckon visitors into the warmth of the family's nest. Antique collections from all over the world are sprinkled throughout the home, complemented with furniture from bygone years.
Exquisite framed needlepoint, iron beds, and travertine floors throughout lend an old-world feel. Eclectic eye candy adds to the warmth of the home, and serves as a reminder of a bygone era of farm life.
A set of double French doors procured at a fire sale replaced arcadia doors in the living room, and cast beautiful light throughout the first floor while offering views of the 2-acre lot, barn and pastures beyond.
A repurposed piece of iron, transformed into a whimsical gate, leads to two small ponies that welcome the way to the north pasture and barn area.
A fire pit and pavered expanse provide a perfect entertainment area for fun in the cooler months with their four grandchildren. The pavers lead to the east pasture, where visitors are greeted by at least one large equine.
The barn, with its weathered metal roof, is a favorite outdoor asset on the property.
The McDonalds' farmhouse, nestled north of Arizona State University’s west campus, offers proof that dreams, even one manifested 48 years ago by a 13-year-old girl and her beloved first horse, really do come true.
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