Coury House/Antique Apparatus



5802 W. Palmaire Ave Glendale AZ 85301

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A Brief History of the Catlin Court Historical District


"I believe all good things

start with a dream..."


This was  the introduction of a letter sent by Martha Campbell to Mr. Prescott, the Planning Manager for the City of Glendale in early 1989.(1) Martha captivated the imagination of the city planners with the first outline of the downtown 'Gaslight District' now known as the Catlin Court Historical District.





The oldest house you will find in the Catlin Court Historical District  is the Messinger House built in 1895. V.E. Messinger was an educated man from the first Stanford graduating class. He came to Glendale in 1895 to manage the H.W. Ryder Lumber Company, and became one of Glendale’s leading citizens.(2) 


The construction of a two-story four-room brick schoolhouse in 1895 was the first substantial project undertaken by the community of then 300. The completion of this schoolhouse on what is now Palmaire between 58th Avenue and 58th Drive gave the small city a sense of permanence.(2)


The Glendale Public Library was started in 1896 by V.E. Messinger when he opened his home library for the residents to use. The brick school house later became the formal home of the Glendale Public Library. The original sign for this public library is on display at the Velma Teague branch.(2,5)


For reasons unknown, the brick schoolhouse was dismantled before 1920. One hypothesis is that it was no longer needed due to construction of other facilities. (5)


The Catlin Court Subdivision was the first organized development program in the City of Glendale. Begun in 1912, it followed on the heels of regional economic boom and represented the first important period of the city's growth since its founding in 1892.(2)


The California Bungalow was the preferred style of construction in this subdivision. Within Catlin Court you will find some of the most outstanding Craftsman Bungalows as can be found anywhere in the Salt River Valley.(2)


The Beginning of the Business District


Sue McCool (at that time Sue McDaniel) and her dress shop the Sand Dollar was to give birth to many Catlin Court business enterprises. Sue bought the building on the southeast corner of 58th Avenue and Palmaire which had been the Summer's house. Although this property is not within Catlin Court proper, the significance of the Sand Dollar is that it pioneered the concept in the local area of converting an old house into commercial property, and brought in  tenants that were to spread out  and purchase their own buildings in what is known as Catlin Court Historic District.(3d)


In 1979 Martha Campbell and her twin sister Mary Mosteller rented shop space from Sue McCool to open The Tole Shop which specialized in the teaching of American folk art.   


When Sue McCool retired from the Sand Dollar in 1981, several businesses attempted to operate in the same location but did not succeed. In 1986 Martha asked Sue if she could rent the building to operate a tearoom.(4,3d)


Martha's Spicery tearoom was a success, and being the first in the Phoenix-Glendale area, set the pattern for other tearooms that would later follow. Since Martha had decided to dedicate her full time efforts to the tearoom, The Tole Shop was sold to Carolyn Gimpowitz  in January 1987.(1,4)





Two of Martha's customers, Sue Branch and her mother Mel Foehner, expressed an interest in renting  a room. Martha suggested that they rent the upstairs of the Spicery, where they set up The Housewife Giftshop Feb. 14, 1987.(4)


Early Catlin Court Shops


The first retail shop that actually opened in what is now termed 'Catlin Court Historic District' was Glendale Cash Register, owned by Jim and Jean Burns, in November 1981. Their prime business activity was the sale and service of antique and modern cash registers. They later had an antique business also on the premises called Catlin Court Collectibles. The building now houses The Country Maiden.(3g)


Alice's Things, 7142 N. 58 Ave., was owned by John Courter. This shop was the second retail business to enter the Catlin Court area, and sold antiques and collectibles. The current business residing in this building is Miss. Florence's Mercantile. (3g)


Fiddle De Dee's at 7150 N. 57th Avenue was opened  by Delores Hickman after nearly a year of renovation in March 1986. The building Delores purchased in June 1985 for this shop location was the 1910 parsonage house for the First Baptist Church. Delores was no stranger to the area. For many years she had modeled dresses for Sue McCool's business, The Sand Dollar.(4,3d,3h)



 EXTRA! Concerned Citizens Pass

Petitions, Save Buildings.


In order to prevent developers from acquiring land and tearing down structures to construct parking facilities for the third expansion phase of the high-rise at Glenn Drive Between 58th Dr. and 58 Avenue Martha Campbell, Sue Branch and other concerned citizens gathered nearly 5000 names on a petition to stop the destruction of the fine old buildings in the area. Their efforts came to the attention of Councilman Quentin Tolby who wrote a letter to the mayor and council requesting funds to explore the feasibility of forming a 'Gaslight District'. His letter envisioned an area with tourist oriented businesses which would rehabilitate existing properties and provide a retail base for downtown. The type of businesses would include retail-specialty shops, restaurants, artist studios, antique stores etc.(1b,1c)





The First Catlin Court Committee Meeting


The first meeting of the Catlin Court District Committee was held on June 15, 1989. The participants were Candy Paxia, Joyce Clark, Martha Campbell, Jim Burns, Sue Branch, Mel Foehner, Tom Eggleston, Jean O'Brien, Paul Ludwick, Paula Brictson and Greg Mareck.


The meeting  established boundaries and formalized the name Catlin Court District. An architectural rendering was to be prepared so that people would be aware of how the district was to be developed.  A walking tour was undertaken June 26, 1989 to enlighten those involved.



It took many meetings and  thousands of hours, but the city and the dedicated people involved accomplished what they set out to do and made Martha Campbell's dream come true!





1. City  of Glendale, Community Development Office Catlin Court files.

A. Letter from Martha Campbell to Mr. Prescott

B.Misc. newspaper clippings.

C. Letter From Councilman Tolby to the Mayor and Council.


2. Glendale Townsite/Catlin Court Historic District by Glendale Historical Society, City of Glendale and Janus Associates Inc.


3. Oral interviews with people mentioned in this article.

A. Wendell DeCross (verbal)  B. Martha Campbell (verbal)   C. Sue Branch   D. Sue McCool (taped)

E. Phil Lieberman (verbal)   F. Greg Marek, City of Glendale (verbal)   G. Jean Burns (verbal)  H. Delores Hickman (verbal)


4. My History In Catlin Court, by Martha Campbell 11/10/92


5. Conversation with experts at The Glendale Historical Society.  

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