Splash Magazines

Barrio Historico - The Spirit of the Southwest

By Kim Perkinson

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The idea to write about Interior Design started in Tucson, Arizona last Fall.  My appreciation for its architectural beauty had been growing over the years, and the desire to share it led me here.  For my first design article, I chose to focus on the neighborhood known as Barrio Historico (Also known as Barrio Libre), located south of downtown Tucson. The Barrio speaks to Tucson's Spanish-Mexican heritage, to community and to the importance of historical  preservation.



The first structures began to appear in the Barrio in the mid to late 1800s.  Predominantly Sonoran in architectural style, the one story row houses consisted of adobe walls rich in texture and color.  One of the oldest building materials, adobe is made from a mixture of sand, clay and water.  Straw is sometimes added for strength.  The thick adobe walls are slow to transmit heat or cold, making them ideal for the desert climate.  Most homes were built up to the front property line, had flat roofs and few windows or door openings.  Exterior doors were usually placed flush with the interior walls, creating a unique recessed entry when viewed from the outside.











Urban renewal programs in the late 1960s, including the construction of the community center complex and parking lot, led to the demolition of nearly half of these homes.  Thanks to the passionate voices of many willing to fight for the Barrio, historical status was established in 1978.  Preservation soon followed.  There are currently over 200 properties, residential and commercial, on the 20 blocks that make up Barrio Historico.











I was honored to collaborate on this article with my sister & brother-in-law, Julie Freshwater and Thomas Pritchett, both Tucson residents and multi-talented artists.  They introduced me to the Barrio many years ago and they have provided all of the photography you see above.  For additional information on Barrio Historico and Tucson, Arizona, go to their official website here.

Published on Jul 25, 2012

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