Southside Village seeks historic Chandler designation - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Southside Village seeks historic Chandler designation

May 11th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Southside Village seeks historic Chandler designation

By SanTan Sun News Staff

Southside Village residents want the city to designate their community a “South Chandler Historic Neighborhood.”

Such a designation, they say, will “preserve the significant contributions that this neighborhood gave to Chandler during its initial development and into today.”

The neighborhood is roughly bordered by  Frye and Pecos roads, the railroad tracks near Delaware Street and Arizona Avenue.

Last month Mayor Kevin Hartke joined more than 100 residents at the Southside Village Reunion Festival at N.J. Harris Park to celebrate the neighborhood, said a spokeswoman for the movement, Peggy Schlesinger.

The Southside Village Reunion Festival was sponsored by Chandler4Change and South Chandler Self Help.  These organizations collaborated with the Salvation Army, which supplied the food and drinks, and the City of Chandler Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Department.

“The goal of the event in the park was to collect signatures to petition the City of Chandler to recognize the neighborhood as a Historic Conservation District to preserve the history of Southside Village for the future and to recognize the contributions of the people of color who lived industrious lives despite severe hardships and segregation,” Schlesinger said.

In 1910, Dr. A.J. Chandler officially set aside 100 lots for African American and Latinx workers who were recruited as laborers for the growing agriculture industry. The new residents were banned from settling in surrounding areas due to racist segregation zoning.

The historical significance of the neighborhood stems from these creative and hard-working residents who built their lives on those 100 lots,” Schlesinger said. “The community that rose from the desert south of the City of Chandler became key to the success of the entire region.”

“Since 1912, the year of Arizona’s statehood, this area was the neighborhood for the non-white residents of Chandler,” she explained. “However, it was not originally considered an official part of the City of Chandler. The neighborhood has been known by many names including Winn Addition, Southside, Mexican Town, The Barrio, South Chandler, and Historic South Chandler Neighborhood.”

“Many residents rose above segregation to contribute in significant ways to Chandler society. Some of the ways local residents contributed to the early growth of Chandler, which continues today, were as lawyers, authors, politicians, entrepreneurs, and doctors. The first documented African American to arrive was N.J. Harris who was hired to be Dr. Chandler’s chauffeur.

“Like many other productive inhabitants, Mr. Harris found creative ways to better his life and the life of his family. After retirement, he opened a barbecue restaurant that his daughter, Alberta Harris Jacko, continued to run. The restaurant became the longest operating African American woman-owned business in Chandler.”

Schlesinger noted that several well-known political figures lived in Southside Village – including former mayors Raul Navarrete and Coy Payne. Past Chandler city councilmembers Philip Duenas and Philip Westbrooks also lived in the neighborhood.

“Many community advocates from this neighborhood worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the local residents,” Schlesinger said.

She cited Pluarco Garcia, who helped get clean water and sanitation to the neighborhood; Carlanthe Turner, who worked to end school segregation in Chandler; Emma Arbuckle, who worked to curtail racial unrest during the Civil Rights Era; and Zora Folley, a professional boxer who fought Muhammad Ali.

Schlesinger noted that the Winn School was built in the neighborhood in 1929. It is now used as the home of the Salvation Army. This and other buildings in the community highlight the historically significant architecture in the neighborhood, she said. Some properties date back to 1912. Seventy-three residential properties are at least 50 years old.

At the gathering last month, many who attended were neighbors or associated with neighborhood, such as Angel Encinas’ mother.

Peggy Schlesinger said Rodney Love used to live in the neighborhood and is still deeply involved with South Chandler Self Help and Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church.

South Chandler Self Help was started by Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church at 473 S. Colorado St.

  “They are a group of people from the neighborhood to help the neighborhood,” Schlesinger said. “They have offered tutoring programs, family counseling, and community service work.  They are also one of the cosponsors of the historic conservation district effort.  They are looking to have their neighborhood remembered and appreciated for all their contributions to Chandler.”

She added: “The Southside Village team will continue to work with the City of Chandler Historic Preservation office to recognize this historically, architecturally, and culturally significant neighborhood as a historic conservation district’ to preserve and celebrate the rich cultural history of Chandler.”