Casas Adobes is an unincorporated community,
is notable for having the upscale shopping center, Casas Adobes Plaza, its only shopping mall, Foothills
Mall, a major hospital, Northwest Medical Center, and the only botanical park, Tohono Chul Park. Casas
Adobes primarily consists of homes situated on large lots often in excess of 1
acre, and is suburban in character.
Established in the 1940s, the Casas Adobes community has grown
to encompass a 23-square-mile area inhabited by nearly 60,000
residents. Casas Adobes takes its name from a large residential
subdivision of the same name. Most of the homes in the subdivision are large
ranch-style homes built with adobe bricks.
Casas Adobe is the area bordering the Cañada del
Oro wash ( a dry riverbed) in the north, and the Rillito River in
the south. It was primarily inhabited and utilized by cattle ranchers.
Cattle ranches dominated the Casas Adobes area until the 1920s, when Tucson had
grown far enough north and the advent of the automobile made the area more
One of the first individuals to build a home in the area was
Maurice L. Reid, who came to Tucson in 1923 seeking treatment for tuberculosis. In the
late 1920s Reid bought a 1,500 acres former ranch, bounded by North Oracle Road
to the east, Orange Grove Road to the south, Ina Road to the north, and North
La Cholla Boulevard to the west. Reid planted more than 200 acres of citrus trees and date palms, that
would become the heart of Tucson's citrus industry. Over the years, Reid
sold parcels of land for home sites, and in 1950 he sold the last of his land.
Some larger residential estates continue to maintain the remaining citrus
groves and orchards nearly a century later!
Leonie Boutall, who relocated to Arizona from Tennessee, decided
to build a guest ranch in the early 1930s. The dry climate, her doctor told
her, would relieve her bronchial troubles.
She bought 100 acres of former ranch land just west of North Oracle Road, and
south of a narrow dirt track now called Orange Grove Road. She built Rancho
Nezhone, a luxury guest ranch that drew the rich and famous to the sparsely settled
area far north of Tucson, Kate Smith, Liberace, Gen. John Pershing and William
"Hopalong Cassidy" Boyd were guests of the desert
retreat which featured lush vegetation with monkeys and parrots. Boutall sold
out of the property in 1948.Today the site is home to Mission Palms Apartments,
where much of the original flora and several features remain, including a
300-stone wall in front of the property.
In the late 1940s, further north along Oracle Road, Sam Nanini
would ultimately make his mark in the area. Nanini and his wife, Giaconda,
moved to Tucson in 1948 seeking to cure Giaconda Nanini's bronchial asthma.[Beginning
in the mid-1950s, the Italian born, transplanted Chicagoan developed three
residential subdivisions on about 300 acres that became the heart of the Casas
Adobes community, giving the community its name. The subdivisions, along with
Sam Nanini's landmark Casas Adobes Plaza, were considered by many to
be Tucson's first suburb. Sam Nanini and his son William also later built the
world-class Tucson National Resort, and the luxury residential subdivision, the
Tucson National Estates.
In 1997, the Arizona legislature passed a law that suspended the
ability of incorporated cities and towns in Pima County to prevent the
incorporation of other cities within six miles of their borders for a period of
approximately two years. That same year, the residents of Casas Adobes
voted to incorporate as their own city. However, a series of appeals overturned
the new law on constitutional grounds, and the Superior Court annulled the
incorporation. A second vote for incorporation in 2001 failed 56 to 44 percent.
While Casas Adobes' neighboring municipalities of Oro Valley,
Marana and Tucson continue to build new homes and shopping centers, Casas
Adobes is mostly built out. With the failure of incorporation attempts, it is
likely that one or all three of the neighboring entities will annex portions of
Casas Adobes in the future.