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It Started with the Orpheum

One of the recent trends in real estate in Phoenix is the movement to upgrade, modernize, and/or repurpose older buildings in the downtown area. Once it was all too easy to level these older structures, often replacing them with empty lots or bland office buildings.

A similar fate was planned for the Orpheum before a determined public campaign, led by the Junior League, resulted in the restoration of Rickards & Nace’s movie palace. The success of that project has led to a series of restorations, leading to a new life for a number of buildings.

For example:

The Orpheum Lofts

114 W Adams St Phoenix, AZ 85003

Located across the street from the Orpheum, this Art Deco building, once known as the Phoenix Title & Trust Building, was designed by Lescher & Mahoney (the architects of the Orpheum). When it opened in 1931, it was considered one of the City’s premier offices spaces. However, it did not age well over time, and was losing money in the 1990s. Converted to a residential condo in the early 2000’s, it retains many of its classical features, especially the ornate Deco lobby.

The Heard Building

110 N Central Ave Phoenix, AZ 85004

Phoenix’s original “skyscraper”, the Heard Building opened in 1920. Built of reinforced concrete, the building was once home to the Arizona Republic, Phoenix Gazette, and KTAR. The building was recently sold, and the new owner said that he may combine some of the offices in an open-plan design.

The Professional Building

15 E Monroe St Phoenix, AZ 85004

Located on the northeast corner of Central and Monroe, the Art Deco building, once home to the Valley National Bank, opened in 1932. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993, it was vacant for over 25 years. Over that time, it was the subject of constant speculation as to its future. Finally, speculation became reality when, after a painstaking restoration, it reopened in 2015 as a Hilton Garden Inn, complete with double-height lobby and quality restaurant.

Desoto Marketplace

915 N Central Ave Phoenix, AZ 85004

Located at Roosevelt and Central, the building opened as a car dealership in 1928. (Desoto, a Chrysler Corp. brand, stopped selling cars in 1961.) The store subsequently operated under a variety of names until 2000, and then closed. After a major remodeling it reopened in 2015. It currently contains restaurants and a food market.

The Newton

300 W Camelback Rd Phoenix, AZ 85013

Although not a downtown building, the story here is much the same. In 1961 Jack Newton opened Beefeaters Restaurant at 3rd Ave. and Camelback. The prototypical upscale family restaurant of the day, with its clubby atmosphere and numerous banquettes, Beefeaters closed in the early 2006, after Newton passed away. Decay set in once the building sat vacant. But rather than knock down the building, the basic “bones” of the structure were saved and became the basis of the Newton, which is now made up of a plant shop, Changing Hands Books, and the Southern Rail restaurant, which incorporated some of the design elements from the original restaurant.

The Welnick Market

345 W Van Buren St Phoenix, Arizona, AZ 85003

Located at Van Buren and 4th Ave. Opened in 1927 as an early version of the modern supermarket, it was converted to a print shop in the 60s. Vacant for over 10 years; the Art Deco exterior has been restored, and the building just awaits the proper tenant(s). [Also, across 4th Ave. from the Welnick is another building undergoing restoration. Those involved in the restoration include people who created the Crescent Ballroom. The building is tentatively to be called the Van Buren, after Martin Van Buren, 8th President of the United States.]


What’s Coming Up at the Orpheum

March 5 - Phoenix Opera: Southwest Vocal Competition 2:00

March 7 - Free Public Tours Noon 1:00

March 7 - Downstairs @ the Orpheum 5:30 The Blues March 12 - Silent Sundays: “Peter Pan” 2:30 March 14 - Shen Yun Acrobats 7:30 March 15 - Shen Yun Acrobats 7:30 March 16 - Shen Yun Acrobats 7:30 March 17 - Shen Yun Acrobats 8:00 March 18 - Shen Yun Acrobats 2:00 7:30 March 19 - Shen Yun Acrobats 1:00 6:00 March 23 - Ballet Arizona: Today’s Masters 7:00 March 24 - Ballet Arizona: Today’s Masters 7:30 March 25 - Ballet Arizona: Today’s Masters 2:00 7:30 March 26 - Ballet Arizona: Today’s Masters 1:00 March 28 - Free Public Tours Noon 1:00 April 2 - NABC Guardians of the Game 6:30 April 4 - Free Public Tours Noon 1:00 April 14 - Dance Motion: Clueless 7:00 April 15 - Dance Motion: Clueless 2:00 April 18 - Free Public Tours Noon 1:00 April 23 - Phoenix Boys Choir: New York State of Mind 3:00 April 25 - Downstairs @ the Orpheum – Nicole Pesce Trio w/Renee Patrick 5:30 April 27 - Theater League presents Stomp 8:00 April 28 - Theater League presents Stomp 2:00 8:00


Support the Friends

Attention Fry’s Shoppers – Donate to the Friends every time you shop at Fry’s, and it’s free. Fry’s is donating $2 million a year ($500,000/quarter) to Arizona non-profits. To participate, go to and register your Fry’s VIP card, and select Friends of the Orpheum Theatre as your non-profit of choice. Remember: your donation is free, and this program is separate from the gas program. Last year, the Friends received nearly $700 from Fry’s. Also: if you are already a member of the Program you have to re-register in August. Just go to the e-mail location shown above and follow the directions to re-enroll.

Support the Friends, Become a “Star” – A unique way to support FOTOT. For $100 you can purchase a brick which will be placed in the “Avenue of Stars” located just east of the Theatre in the City Hall Plaza. You can purchase a brick to honor your family, a friend, someone you admire, or to celebrate an event (graduation, birthday, etc.). For more information, visit our website.

Become a Member of the Friends – Join us as we preserve and illuminate the heritage of the glorious Orpheum Theatre. Visit our website to learn more.


Visit the Theatre

Did You Know – The light rail has two stops that are less than a 10 minute walk from the Orpheum. Whether you’re coming from the East Valley or from Northwest Phoenix, taking the train allows you to avoid traffic as well as the cost of parking your car.


Friends of the Orpheum Theatre

A 501c3 nonprofit whose Mission is:

To support the art, culture, and history of the Orpheum Theatre through outreach, education, and volunteerism.

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