Downtown Chandler Walking Tour
Explore more than a century of Chandler history and enjoy a short walk through Chandler's historic downtown district!
Chandler incorporate as a town in 1920. Soon, it became evident that the town needed it's own town hall. With funding split between Maricopa County and the new town, Chandler's first town hall was built on the northwest corner of Chicago Street and Arizona Avenue. It served as Chandler's city hall until a larger building opened a couple blocks away in 1970.
Lebanese immigrants Najeeb and Najeeby Basha arrived in Arizona in the late 1910s and set up a dry goods store in eastern Arizona mining towns. After suffering two different fires, they moved their family to Chandler and set up a dry goods store on the southwest corner of Boston and Washington Streets. It was the start of a grocery empire.
In the store front on the left, brothers Albert and Luis Serrano sold clothing and shoes here until the late 1970s, when the independent department store was no longer sustainable. After closing Serrano's Popular Store, they opened a Mexican restaurant. Between 1920 and the 1960s, the building on the right served as a bakery and the popular Chandler Café.
While former Mayor David Jacobsen built the structure, it was John “Doc” Weber who opened his pharmacy here in 1920 and named it Arrow Pharmacy. The pharmacy had many owners over the decades, but each one kept the “Arrow” name. Chandler residents shopped and drank sodas here for 85 years.
John Dobson and John Andersen established the First National Bank in 1919. It was the second bank in town after the Bank of Chandler, operated by Dr. A.J. Chandler. Dobson and Andersen designed the brick building in a Neo Classical style with columns, which makes it unique in Downtown Chandler, where most of the other buildings exhibit characteristics of mission revival style architecture.
The Friedberg Building has long been home to clothing stores since it was built. In 1918, merchant Joseph Friedberg opened a new store specializing in clothing, hats, and shoes. In later years, a J.C. Penney Company department store occupied this building. Saba's Western Wear moved into the building in 1972.
Phoenix theater owner Bill Menhennet opened this building to house the town’s first “talking movies,” though it also showed silent films, with a score played by a piano player in a loft in the theater. Joe and Alice Woods purchased the theater in 1932 and renamed it the “Rowena" after Joe's mother. The Rowena entertained thousands of Chandler residents for several decades.
Originally built in 1912, this two-story building included an open arcade with small shops on the ground floor, such as the Monroe Hardware Store. Offices and meeting rooms for the Chandler Chamber of Commerce were located upstairs. This building is best known as the Parkway Theatre, where Chandler residents watched movies from 1945 until 1979.
The Bank of Chandler shared this building with the Chandler Improvement Company until 1925. The Chandler Improvement Company sold parcels of Dr. Chandler’s 18,000 acre ranch from this site. Valley National Bank heavily remodeled this building in 1954.
The San Marcos Hotel was envisioned as the anchor of the new town of Chandler when it was founded in 1912. Designed by architect Arthur Burnett Benton, the mission revival style hotel drew wealthy people from across the country who wished to spend their winters in a warm climate. After it opened on November 22, 1913, the San Marcos was billed as "the place where summer spends the winter." For the first few decades of the hotel's existence, it catered to celebrities, wealthy businessmen, politicians, and royalty. By the middle of the century, its business model had changed, and the hotel welcomed more convention business. After the death of the hotel's owner, John Quarty, in 1979, the San Marcos closed for several years. It reopened in 1986, catering to tourists and people traveling on business. It remains the anchor of Chandler's downtown shopping, dining, and entertainment district.
The San Marcos Hotel, across the street from the Suhwaro Hotel, was a huge success. The new town of Chandler found itself in need of additional hotel spaces almost immediately. Originally opened as an affordable option to the San Marcos Hotel, the Suhwaro was later used as a boarding house for San Marcos employees. The curving Mission Revival style façade imitates the design of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.