Getting back to our early history of Fountain Hills, the first permanent building to be completed in the community was the Fountain Hills Sales and Reception Center.
Today, we know the building as Messenger Mortuary. It is located on the northeast corner of Saguaro Boulevard and Colony Drive. It was built for a cost of $300,000. Today, I don’t think there is a single-family home available on the market for under $300,000.
The building was 7,500 square feet when built. Large floor to ceiling windows were on two sides of the building which gave visitors unobstructed views of the fountain.
This is the building where customers were bused to and from Sky Harbor Airport as part of the “Fly to see before you buy” sales program that was initiated by Lorne Pratt and used successfully in Lake Havasu City. Most of the flights to Fountain Hills were from cities in the Midwest.
The sales staff was assigned customers that they then would tour around the opened areas in white Jeep Wagoneers to find them a future homesite.
Once the flight program was ended in 1974 during the recession and oil embargo, the Sales and Reception Center was used for community gatherings and meetings.
The sales program was changed to appeal to Phoenix-area residents who were looking to move out of the city “to a quiet community with no congestion.”
The first edition of the Fountain Hills Times monthly edition in February 1972 featured a story about the Fountain Hills management team for the developer. The team was headed by William “Bill” Fisher. He was director of municipal services for McCulloch Properties with some 25 years of experience in that field. He also was a very friendly and personable individual who proved to be a very good selection for the developer in building good relations with the new town’s residents.
Other management team members were Project Superintendent Lee Barte, who served as head of Chaparral City Water Company and was responsible for the fountain operation, and Hal Marron, a registered civil and environmental engineer, who was named project engineer.
In the March edition, major stories were about three prominent Phoenix area firms acquiring sites in Fountain Hills.
Valley National Bank acquired a future office site on the corner of Avenue of the Fountains and Verde River Drive. At the time, Valley National was the largest banking firm in the Rocky Mountain region. Today we know the location as Chase Bank.
U-Tote-M markets, an Arizona-based convenience store chain, had purchased seven sites for markets in the community. (Remember, the planned population at buildout was to be 78,000 people.) They started work immediately on that first market on the corner of Saguaro Boulevard and Panorama Drive. The firm had 72 stores with 12 more under construction at that time. The firm was later purchased by Circle K Corporation. U-Tote-M did open another store in Fountain Hills in July of that same year. It was located on the northeast corner of Glenbrook and Fountain Hills boulevards. That location was the first place for residents to buy gasoline.
Another big story was work began on Fontaña, a 220-unit multi-family residential complex in the northeast part of the community. It was built in three areas, with 40 townhouses, 50 patio homes and 120 condominiums.
The March issue also contained a story on the first residents to move into their homes. They were Sally Ballee and her two children (now Atchinson and she remains a town resident), Mr. and Mrs. Warren Bunting and their five children and Mr. and Mrs. Elmo Robinson.
There was also a story about the creation of a saguaro sanctuary where the giant cactus were preserved and held for replanting in future landscaping projects. It was located east of Saguaro Boulevard and south of Fountain Park.
Maybe I’ll give you more information on that effort by McCulloch in our next look back at the early history of Fountain Hills.
And, oh yes, Happy New Year!