In Arizona, there is so much history to discover, from Indigenous peoples to westward expansion to Latin influences and more. Whether your family is full of history buffs or you’re looking for a new educational destination to explore with the kids, you are sure to find many fascinating historical sites in and around the Peoria, Arizona, area. Here are eight of our favorite local historical sites you have to check out.
John C. Flanagan House Museum
The John C. Flanagan House Museum was built in 1837, making it the oldest standing house in town. Once the home of its builder Judge John C. Flanagan, the house now features artifacts and furnishings that reflect its original state. You can see antiques like furniture, china, quits, and toys as well as vintage clothing. This gorgeous, American Federalist-style home is on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and the headquarters of the Daughters of the American Revolution organization’s local chapter.
Pettengill-Morron House Museum
The Pettengill-Morron House Museum is another Peoria Historical Society property on the U.S. NRHP. This house was built in 1868 by local abolitionist Moses Pettengill. The original structure is in the Second Empire architectural style, while the porch and porte-cochere covered drive feature were added in 1900, giving the house a Colonial Revival look. The artifacts you see in the house were part of the last owner’s impressive collection. Thanks to the late Jean McLean Morron, you can see some of the Pettengill’s furnishings and personal belongings and other items from the mid-18th to the mid-20th centuries.
Historic Sahuaro Ranch
Step back in time and explore life on an Arizona ranch in the 1800s and early 1900s when you visit Sahuaro Ranch in nearby Glendale. The Glendale Historical Society manages the property and gives tours of the guest house, which is now the Society’s home. This building also houses rotating exhibits that display historical artifacts, honor veterans, and showcase historical life in this area of Arizona. The local parks department gives tours of the main house, which has seven bedrooms, five bathrooms, and a full basement. The main house is now a local event venue and fantastic touring location.
Throughout the ranch’s history, its original owner, broker William Bartlett, built multiple structures, including homes and facilities, for the ranch’s operation. Now, the property is home to picnic areas, ball fields, a local fire station, and a local library, in addition to many of the original structures.
Historic Manistee Ranch
Another Glendale Historical Society property, the Manistee Ranch was originally owned by Herbert W. Hamilton and later bought and renamed by Louis M. Sands. The property features a three-story, Queen Anne Revival-style home built in 1897, a granary barn, a garage that was added in 1912, an office building added in 1924, a small farm with an education exhibit, and an 85-year-old date farm.
You can tour the home and view period furnishings, decor, art, and artifacts, many of which are from when the Sands family lived there. In addition, the house has a few rotating exhibits and permanent exhibits in the basement that depict life back then, including an old schoolroom, a golf room, and a taxidermy room full of native and international species.
Pioneer Living History Museum
If you’re looking for a historical destination that’s more immersive, then visit the Pioneer Living History Museum in Phoenix. This property features exhibits, resident actors, performances, and demonstrations that capture what life was like as a pioneer in Arizona between the years 1863 and 1912. Some of the places you can visit include an old opera house, schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, and a bank. Your family can even tour original homes of the area’s settlers, watch war re-enactments, and attend entertaining events throughout the year. Plus, your ticket also gets you into the nearby Telephone History Museum.
Take a step through Phoenix during the Victorian area of the late 1800s and early 1900s with a visit to Heritage Square, located at Heritage and Science Park. This spot is also right next to the Phoenix History Museum and the Arizona Science Center.
Heritage Square is located on the original town site for Phoenix and features historic houses like the Rosson House Museum, which captures the city’s history through unique exhibits and stories of the people and events that shaped the area. Inside the museum, you can view Victorian-era cookware, furnishings, decor, and medical equipment. You should also check out the visitor center, which has exhibits that explore the area’s indigenous peoples and colonists to answer the question, “Why is Phoenix here?”
Agua Fria National Monument
The Agua Fria National Monument is about 40 miles north of Phoenix. This area is made up of the two mesas and the canyon of the Agua Fria River. When you visit this stunning geographical wonder, you’re looking at the same sites as the indigenous peoples and colonists that came before you. Plus, you get to see a variety of fascinating topographical features, like a dormant volcano and basalt plateaus, and habitats including riparian forest and desert, making it one of the most important collections of prehistoric sites. It’s also a stellar location for viewing wildlife, as you’re likely to see species like bobcats, coyotes, antelope, mule deer, and more.
Scorpion Gulch is an abandoned structure that was once the home to an old trading post until the 1960s and a bar during the 1970s. Now, it’s a historical destination cataloged by the Phoenix Historic Property Register. It was originally built in the 1930s and known as the South Mountain Trading Post. While it’s an empty building that seems like it’s out in the middle of nowhere, it’s a fascinating location to visit to spark the imagination about the people who frequented the spot and the events that took place there.
So there you have it, eight interesting historical sites you can explore with the family. Did we miss any of your family’s favorite local history destinations? If so, contact Crème de la Crème of Peoria to let us know. We’ll be sure to add it to our list!