History of the Squaw Peak Inn

The structure known as the historic Squaw Peak Inn had it's beginning in 1937 when William Almon Stopford and his wife Emily purchased an 800-acre parcel near the east end of the present-day Phoenix Mountain Preserve for $25.00 an acre.

Originally designed as a home in the center of the parcel for the Stopfords, by 1943 they had developed it into a guest ranch called the Squaw Peak Ranch.

The present day guesthouse was the original Squaw Peak Ranch House. It was constructed by a French gentleman by the name D'Alamonde almost entirely of redwood and consists of a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms and two baths. Mr. Stopford and his wife Emily lived there while the great house was being built.

Acting as his own architect, Mr. Stopford designed the main home in classic territorial fashion. Adobe bricks were formed on the site and local Native Americans formed the primary labor force. The classic adobe architecture is emphasized by large viga beams and planks, which constitute the roof.

The main house consisted of a great room, dining room, kitchen, and six bedrooms, each with a private bath. Each room has direct access to the outside, a practical requirement of the times and as the date of construction preceded modern evaporative cooling. For three years the Squaw Peak Ranch ran without the luxuries of telephones or electricity. Kerosene lanterns and an old-fashion icebox were used, and a well was drilled 395 feet into the hard rock beneath to supply water to the ranch.

In addition to the two central buildings, the Stopfords constructed outbuildings for domestic help and stables for horses. A short hike along Trail 100 approximately 200 to 300 yards west of the present buildings shows evidence of the remains of that stable.

According to Mr. Stopford, the early days at his home were primarily characterized by extreme solitude, interrupted occasionally by visits form his friends, a man by the name of Frank Lloyd Wright, who lived "out on the flats" (the desert to the east). Mr. Stopford referred to a number of visits in which Mr. Wright brought architectural students to point out an example of appropriate architecture for the Southwest. The only other light visible at night in Paradise Valley was Mr. Wright's light at Taliesan West.

Visiting Phoenix was also a major event. What is now Tatum Boulevard was at the time, a very rough dirt road, which meant making the decision to ride a horse or drive a car, which both took about the same amount of time to transverse the rough road. Mr. Stopford mentioned that his regular stopping off place was the Jokake Inn, located just north of what is now the intersection of Camelback and 62nd Street. After a few years a one-lane oil-top road was installed to make the inn more accessible to guests.

On June 6, 1944, Mr. Stopford sold the home and property to George A. and Patty D. Judson. The Judsons continued running the guest ranch, with the addition of slot machines and visits from celebrities as Dick Powell and June Allison. The Judsons presently own Judson School at Invergordon and Indian Bend in Scottsdale.

In April 1946, the Judsons sold the ranch to Davidson and Jane Trebbing Jenks. The Jenks had lived on Lincoln Drive near Mountain Shadows and had been familiar with the guest ranch since its origination. They had moved to Texas with the intention of ranching the cattle, but oil discovered in the vicinity of the ranch they intended to buy shot the price of land up beyond there reach. They decided to return to Phoenix and become guest ranchers instead. "Not too much difference between guests and cattle, "according to Mr. Jenks, "'ceptin' the guest don't need branding."

The Jenks decided to remove the slot machines, and added lawns to the west and east, a putting green, a swimming pool and an L-shaped building to the west and north of it with five more double rooms and two single rooms, bringing the ranch's capacity to 30 guests. Quarters for staff were built approximately 250 yards north of the great house and a home was constructed for his mother on the hillside approximately 150 yards to the northwest. With the exception of the great house and main home, all additional buildings have been destroyed over the years.

Most of the Judson's staff opted to return to their home ion Ohio from which they had been recruited, leaving the Jenks to start with nine guests and one girl to wait table and do maid work. Jane did the cooking until they could hire a cook. Every Thursday, the Cook's day off, the Jenks would take guests on a day trip, which cumulated with a cook-out.

Over time, the Squaw Peak Inn became popular "hideaway resort" and, according to anecdotal reports and newspapers articles, a number of famous persons were guests. Tradition holds that Clark Gable, Robert Taylor, June Allison, Dr. William Vaughn, and Mamie Eisenhower have all been guests at the Squaw Peak Inn.

As examples, the plumber who worked on the refurbishing indicated to the present owner that his father had a picture of himself and Robert Taylor in front of the building.

A student of the present owner visited for "old time's sake" and recounted that when he had been a sickly child, his mother had been a waitress at the Squaw Peak Inn. He fondly remembered "a pretty blonde lady" who sat and rocked him. It was later that his mother explained to him that the lady who took such a loving interest in him was June Allison.

Mr. Jenks recalls Mamie Eisenhower's initial visit to the Inn: "In 1960 when (his daughter) Cathy was five we had with us guests Dr. William Vaughn and his wife Frances. When one of Frances' friends came to see her, Cathy greeted her at the front door. 'My name is Cathy. What's yours?' The nice looking lady said, 'Mines Mamie. Is you mother home?' Cathy asked her to come in and escorted her to the porch. When Jane arrived, she greeted Mamie Eisenhower."

Over the years, Jane began to miss a quiet home-like atmosphere. When Mr. Jenks was asked if he would consider selling, he "put a fairly good price on it" and was amazed to be taken up on his offer to sell the by O'Malley Syndicate of O'Malley Lumber in 1961.

Willis and Margery Betts made a rental agreement with the O'Malleys to continue operating the inn. The yearly rental agreement was renewed twice then the Betts gave up.

After the Betts left the inn sat idle for the majority of the years until it was purchased by the present owners, William and Ann Epley, in 1980. Mr. Jenks, on occasional visits by the property during this time period recalls, "The buildings just seemed to be just sitting there. A couple of times I saw people who seemed to be of the hippy type lounging around the front. I was distressed to see that all the planting we had done was allowed to die.

On July 1, 1976, Dr. Ted Diethrick purchased the property and made application to have the present site serve as the centerpiece for the Arizona Heart Institute. However, this application was with drawn due to highly verbalized oppositions of neighbors at the time.

The property changed between owners several times before the Malouf Brothers Industries purchased the property on March 22, 1978. Through the years, portions of the original 800 acres had been sold off until only a 80-acre parcel remained, which were purchased by the Malouf Brothers for the purpose of developing a prestigious residential community, which is now Doubletree Canyon subdivision.

After long negotiations, a parcel just under 2 acres with the two remaining building were sold to Bill and Ann Epley on October 21,1980. The property borders the Phoenix Mountain Preserve and historic Trail 100 goes directly behind the south end of the property.

By the time the Epleys acquired the property, it was in extreme disrepair. Rattlesnakes, scorpions, rats and black widows had been the only occupants of the buildings for years and had to be evicted by new owners. Approximately 550 broken planes of glass stared bleakly out at the desert, adding to the once-majestic inn's now shabby visage. The developer's original intent was to destroy the remaining building due to their deteriorated condition. There was significant question, even in the Epleys' minds, whether some portions of the original structure could be rescued. The most significant structural damage was caused by the water eroding the sun-dried adobe brick. There were approximately a dozen major factors of the walls, the most significant along the entire north face of the building.

After long deliberation and consultation with structural engineers, it was determined the building could be saved. The Epleys have attempted to restore the building in such a way that the primary historical architecture is retained. The only significant changes are the modernization of kitchen and bathroom facilities, which are graced with, potter Ann Epley's handmade ceramic tile, and the addition of the garage.

The Epley's use of the facilities includes personal residence for themselves and their children John and Ruth, who are now married. Additionally, the facilities have been used for numerous weddings, receptions and parties.

The home has been featured repeatedly in television commercials, including some of the famous Energizer segments featuring Jocko, and for newspaper and magazine layouts. The home was recently used as a backdrop for an interview with Charles Barkley of the Phoenix Suns for ABC's Prime Time Live which aired May 27, 1993.

Additionally, the home was the major focal point for the 1987 made-for-TV movie entitled, "Probe: Plan Nine from Outer Space." Stars of the film included Parker Stevenson, Michael Constantine, and Mai Britt.

MICKEY & RUTHIE SMITH
4425 E. Horseshoe Road
Phoenix, AZ 85028
(480) 998-4049

Mickey.Smith@LegacyInternational.org
Ruthie.Smith@LegacyInternational.org


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