Mall shopping in Chandler? Stop by city’s historic home

Fountain at Chandler's McCullough-Price House

If you’re shopping at or near Chandler Fashion Center this holiday season, you may want to take a break from the busy stores and stop by the McCullough-Price House, one of Chandler’s historic homes.

Now a museum, the McCullough-Price House may offer a calm change of pace for the hurried holiday shopping scene. Huge shade trees surround the home, originally built for Michigan winter visitor William D. McCullough. The house was owned by the Price family from 1950 to 2001 at which time it was donated to the City of Chandler. It was opened as a museum in 2007.

Your out-of-town holiday visitors will enjoy learning about Chandler’s history at the home, which now houses archives of official documents, digitized images of The Chandler Arizonan newspaper, many photos and family records. The archives are made available for research on an appointment basis. Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. visitors may stroll through the interior rooms, examining the displays and spend some quiet time around the the lush, park-like grounds. You’d never know this little corner of history and serene surroundings is immediately adjacent one of Arizona’s largest shopping districts.

Front door designs copy the motifs from Native America petroglyphsThe most interesting item on the property is the house itself. Built in 1938 in the pueblo-revival style of architecture, the house has many fascinating design features. The front door frame is made from granite with petroglyph replicas. Like the front door, the garage doors on the north side of the house have a geometric design in wood, in an Art Deco style. I found it interesting that a house built in 1938 would have a three-car garage, although the ‘garage doors’ have been permanently sealed. The center door has been remodeled into an alternate exit. Massive interior and exterior beams, large square columns and plaster are defining elements of this popular style of Southwest-style architecture. Some of the house’s features, such as the light fixtures, were added recently as part of the renovation, but are still noteworthy. These were reconstructed from the original plans.

Best advantages about visiting Price-McCullough House in between mall shopping trips? Located at 300 South Chandler Village Drive, it’s literally right next to Chandler Fashion Center. There are no waiting lines. And it’s easy on the wallet — free!

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Three-entry garage on north side of McCullough-Price House

Front door shows Art Deco and pueblo revival style popular during the 1930s

Banners tell the history of Chandler's cotton farming

Pueblo revival style ceiling beams and lighting

Ornate vase on display at McCullough-Price House

Sunnylands: historic estate and gardens in Southern California

Slow down the pace at Sunnylands gardens

 

Often called “the West Coast Camp David,” Sunnylands, the estate of billionaire Walter and Leonore Annenberg, should be on every Southern California visitor’s list of ‘things to see.’ Open to the public as of March 2012, it has quickly become one of Rancho Mirage’s most popular attractions. The 200-acre property encompasses a desert botanical garden, a visitors center with art gallery, gift shop, café and the 25,000 sq. ft. historic home.

From the mid 1960s until Mrs. Annenberg’s death in 2009, Sunnylands was a private home. Walter, who died in 2002, made his millions in the publishing industry, and later became an ambassador to the United Kingdom. He and his wife hosted Hollywood celebrities, several U.S. presidents and foreign diplomats at their desert modernist home, designed in the 1960s by architect A. Quincy Jones. Even today, Sunnylands continues to be the site of many political retreats and diplomatic summits. A recent one brought politicians and government officials to discuss U.S.-Mexico relations.

Now the public may tour the home on a limited basis. Tickets are only released on the first and 15th of each month except July 15 and August 1st at a cost of $35 per person. Because tickets sell out quickly, and well in advance, we weren’t able to tour the home on our visit, but we did have the chance to see the gardens and visitors center. These are open without a charge. Hours are Thursdays through Sundays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A bright, spacious lobby area greets guests as they enter the visitors center. It’s evident in the lobby, a fusion of sunlight and building materials was carefully mapped out by architects. They followed the vision by the Annenbergs who sought to allow as much sunlight as much as possible throughout their home. This has extended to the design of the visitors center.

Late fall blossoms at SunnylandsAt Sunnylands, the use of sunlight comprises so much more than simple daylight or sunshine. Architects were clearly ‘leading edge’ with their innovative use of sustainability practices, eco-friendly design and construction. Sunlight becomes an artistic medium for aesthetic expression.

Arizonans who make the three to four hour drive to Sunnylands from Arizona for either a long day trip or as part of a weekend getaway to the Palm Springs-Coachella Valley area, should allow extra time to walk the well-planned and manicured gardens. Those who are frequent visitors at Desert Botanical Gardens and Boyce Thompson Arboretum already know this: you don’t want to zip along through these nature paths. That’s why there are so many benches — to stop and take it all in. And there are a multitude of images to absorb at every turn.

After a tour of the gardens, peruse the lobby with its wide spans of plate glass. I recommend watching the two short videos describing the Annenbergs’ lives, their vision for their estate and their legacy. It’s fascinating to learn how the house design and construction evolved. What’s most notable about the Annenbergs is not their home or their beautiful property — it’s their efforts in philanthropy. The Annenbergs, through the Annenberg Foundation, have made very generous gifts in the areas of education, arts and healthcare. Plus, their vision to establish their estate as a site for stabilizing international relations continues.

Sunnylands visitors will see a sampling of the Annenberg’s art collections in the center galleries. Many famous artists from a variety of periods are represented. Consider ending a visit to Sunnylands with a browse through the gift shop or a relaxing lunch at the café’s outdoor patio.

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Galleries display silver-gilt dinnerware from the Annenbergs' collection

Sunnylands gardens and visitors center

Interactive, educational gallery exhibits

Sunnylands visitors center

 

San Jacinto Mountains provide a nice backdrop for Sunnylands gardens