About


T

he Buckeye Main Street Coalition began in 1986. Main Street is an important part of a larger effort to enhance and preserve downtown Buckeye. The City of Buckeye designates a percentage of the City's transaction privilege tax to be used for revitalization purposes. Main Street is responsible for finding effective uses for those funds, and to make formal requests to the City Council. Some of the items that we provide as a service to help revitalize the downtown area are:

  • Historical Preservation
  • Grant Funding
  • Professional Architectural Designs
  • Renovation Assistance
  • Design Assistance
  • Events

Buckeye Valley History

In 1877, the founder of the settlement that was to become the City of Buckeye led a party of six men, three women, and ten children from Creston, Iowa, bound for Arizona. The leader of this party was Thomas Newt Clanton whose purpose for coming west was to retain his health. It was a good move for him; he lived in Arizona for 49 years before his death at the age of 82.

Development in the Buckeye Valley received its first great boost with the construction of the Buckeye Canal. In 1884, Malin M. Jackson named the canal in honor of his native state of Ohio, the Buckeye State. Clanton built ten miles of the canal, which was completed in 1886.

In 1887, Clanton and his family moved to Buckeye, becoming the first permanent Anglo residents. Clanton and Jackson envisioned a need for a town site near the center of the Buckeye Valley. In 1888, the two, along with William (Bucky) O'Neil, who was later to become known as a famous Rough Rider, laid out the town site on a portion of the Clanton homestead.

The first post office in the area was established the same year, with the postal station called Buckeye. Also in 1888, Bucky O'Neil and Associates organized the Buckeye Irrigation Company and had it certified by the Territorial Secretary. Jackson named the town Sidney, after his home in Ohio. However, because of the significance of the canal, over time the town became known as Buckeye, and the name was legally changed in 1910.

Advances in transportation put Buckeye on the map. In 1910, the Arizona Eastern Railroad came to Buckeye; in 1911, the first car; by 1912, a steam rail line connected with Phoenix; and by 1915, a state highway. The coming of the railroad was so significant that the business district was moved to accommodate the location of the railroad station.

As a result, Buckeye was booming. By 1912, major buildings were constructed, along with expansion of the business community. Buckeye was incorporated in 1926 and included 440 acres. The first mayor was Hugh M. Watson, who started the Buckeye Valley Bank. His son, Hugh Watson, Jr., served as mayor from 1956 to 1958.

In 1935, the Buckeye Chamber of Commerce started the Helzapoppin Days, which has become a local tradition. The festivities included street dances, a parade, a carnival and a rodeo. Proceeds were given to local churches that distributed the funds to the needy, and for scholarships. Celebrities such as cowboy singing star Gene Autry attended the events. Similar local holidays, such as the annual Pioneer Days, are still celebrated in Buckeye today

(information provided courtesy of the Buckeye Valley Chamber of Commerce.)

What is Main Street?

The National Trust for Historic Preservation launched the Main Street Program in 1977 in response to the rapid deterioration of many of America's downtowns following WWII. The increasing popularity of suburb development threatened the commercial architecture in downtown as businesses followed the residents to outlying areas of town. The Main Street Program emerged as a comprehensive revitalization strategy to encourage economic development through historic preservation. The downtown business district would once again be the heart and soul of its city, the center of social, cultural and commercial activity.

How Does it Work?

Main Street calls for a four point approach to downtown revitalization. It is a community-driven effort to preserve and revitalize the downtown with volunteers coordinating activities in each of the following areas.

 

Organization

The Buckeye Main Street Coalition is led by a volunteer Board of Directors and staffed by the City of Buckeye. Volunteers participate on each of the standing committees to accomplish goals of the organization. Membership is open to anyone interested in the downtown revitalization efforts.  Meetings are held at the City Hall the first Thursday of every month at 8:30 AM.

 

Promotion

Recreating downtown Buckeye as a vibrant place to live, work and play is a vital part of the program. Promoting downtown as a destination for visitors and residents will boost retail sales and encourage continued growth. Special events create more foot traffic in downtown making it a more attractive location for prospective new business.

 

Design

The historic building fabric of downtown Buckeye is in desperate need of preservation. With so few original buildings remaining, Main Street seeks to encourage rehabilitation of these historic structures which are an important part of preserving the heritage of the community and contribute to its unique charm. Main Street will assist business and property owners with design ideas for exterior facade renovations and solutions for common maintenance problems associated with older buildings. Creating an overall plan and design for the new construction and redevelopment of downtown will also provide continuity and functionality, as growth is imminent in the region.

 

Economic Restructuring

Business retention and business recruitment are essential components of a solid economic development program for downtown Buckeye. Main Street can be a flourishing marketplace with a healthy mix of retail, service and governmental entities in place. Providing small business owners with resources and information on grants and tax incentives and other beneficial programs is another way Main Street assists and strengthens local businesses.

Who Can Participate?

Anyone with an interest in the revitalization of downtown can participate. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Buckeye Main Street Coalition at bukifeed@aol.com.

Historic Buckeye Buildings and Places

Old Courthouse and Jail

The building that stands at 216 S. 4th Street in Buckeye has a rich history in the West Valley. Built in 1912, the building was the brain child of Royal Lescher, Lescher and Mahoney Architects. This building is either the first or second building that Lescher and Mahoney built in the Valley of the Sun, thus some of the historical significance of the building in Arizona history. The building is a classic example of architecture in the Southwest, with a Neo-Classical influence.

The building has been used for many purposes over the last 90 years. It's first and foremost use was as the original Courthouse and Jail for the Buckeye Valley Region. In 1888 the postal stop was known as the Buckeye Post Office, because of the location of the Buckeye Canal that runs through the heart of town. The community was originally named Sidney due to our founder being from that region of Ohio, but most residents called it Buckeye because of the name of the Post Office. In 1910 the name of the town was finally changed to Buckeye and official incorporation was granted in 1929.

Another part of the Courthouse and Jail history lives on today in the fact that one of the original judges of the Buckeye area was Judge Billy Meck. Meck had several children, one of which is Jackie Meck who is the current General Manager of the Buckeye Irrigation and Water Conservation District which oversees the operation of the Buckeye Irrigation District Canal. Jackie Meck is also the current Mayor of the City of Buckeye.

Over the years the Courthouse and Jail has been used as a Hospital, the grade school auxiliary building, the town library and town food bank. In 2002, a client of the food bank mistakenly stepped on her gas instead of her brake and drove her car through the front wall and window of the building. Since that incident the building has been boarded up and this gem of the West Valley hasn't been in use.

In 2006 the Buckeye Main Street Coalition wrote and received a Heritage Grant from the Arizona State Parks Office for a complete restoration and rehabilitation of the building including getting the building listed on the National Historic Registry. Two requirements for the building to be listed on the National Registry are: The building has to be greater than 50 years old and it needs to be a specific part of the City History.

As for the architectural details that make the building special, the building includes stepped parapets on the roof, a symmetrical facade, large openings in the front facade with wide surrounds and is and will be a very positive contribution to the historic character of the neighborhood along 4th Street.

Information was taken from a book by Charles Mitten entitled "Buckeye, the First Hundred Years 1888-1988" and from a compilation of facts from historian Verlyne Meck. Other information was gathered by Jim Harken, Director of the Buckeye Main Street Coalition in 2006.

Buckeye Valley Museum

The Buckeye Valley Museum was established 66 years after the community was founded in 1888. The early offerings of the museum brought on line in the mid-1950's with the assistance of the Buckeye Valley Historical and Archeological Society and its many volunteers, were at times sparse. Today the museum continues to be a destination location, one that provides a place for residents and visitors alike to revisit new looks into Buckeye's extraordinary past.

Hobo Joe Statue

On the East end of Monroe Avenue in Historic Downtown Buckeye stands a statue of a Hobo. No, it's not because of our rich railroad history. This Hobo was once made famous by a string of restaurants scattered across the Southwest called Hobo Joe Restaurants. They were best known for good hearty food at a very fair price.

The Local lore says that Hobo Joe came to Buckeye by way of a friendship. We turn to an e-mail from Kevin Casey, whose father Jim Casey built the original Hobo Joe Statues.

"My father, Jim Casey, was the sculptor who modeled the original Hobo Joe (all three sizes: the small souvenir-sized one, the life-sized one, and the huge roadside one). All were modeled in clay. Molds were made from the originals, which were then discarded. His company (Image Makers) did all of the casting and painting of the reproductions made from the molds. The smallest version was cast in plaster: the two others were cast in fiberglass. His assistant, Elaine Polley, painted most if not all of the reproductions in the two larger sizes. I believe the small ones were cast and painted in Tijuana, and were sold at the cash registers of the restaurants."

More history came to use in another e-mail from Mr. Casey:

"I'm pretty sure the first large Hobo Joe was cast, assembled, and painted in Scottsdale in the summer of 1967 ... my brother and I visited him from California for a week or two and helped with some of the work. I vaguely recall there being 2 large ones (one in Scottsdale and one in Las Vegas), but I'm not sure about that and about whether they would have been made consecutively.

My brother recalls doing casts of the 5 ft figure into the late 1970's. The molds for that figure were given to friend's company, which may have done some others after that."

So now you're asking, "How did Hobo Joe get to Buckeye and where he stands today?"

We go to another e-mail from Mr. Casey:

"I spoke with Marilyn Woolard who is the daughter of Max Gillum who owned the Buckeye Slaughter House and the statue. She said that their "hobo" was a third casting that was never erected for the restaurant chain. Apparently, Marvin Ransdell worked with my father on the casting and assembly of the large hoboes. She said he worked in fiberglass as a career. He had this unpainted casting in his backyard, we believe in Phoenix, but the City made him get rid of it, so her father took it. Her cousin painted it before it was erected in the late '80s. Several years ago much of it was repainted: apparently the face hasn't been repainted because the painter didn't think he could do a good job on it. She says there's a name carved on it, I believe on the sole of the right shoe where it's separated from its "upper:" the name should be "Jim Casey" or "J. Casey." She remembered that my father had been a Disney sculptor before doing the hobo (he hadn't been with Disney for long as an employee, but he emphasized the connection because it helped him get contracts once he worked as an independent artist)."

So now you know the story of Hobo Joe and how he became a part of the history that makes Buckeye, Arizona the unique place to visit.

Women's Club

Since its completion on June 6, 1935 the building at 845 East Monroe has been the home of Buckeye Women’s Club. The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is an international women’s organization dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service.