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A 100-year-Old Pueblo Revival’s Aesthetic is Lovingly Preserved and Updated

Homeowner Scott Burdick’s extensive collection of antiques and art—including a carved cow bust from England, a 1970s terra cotta llama sculpture by artist Dane Burr, and a 1960s abstract expressionist painting by Richard Tum Suden—bring a worldly air to his quintessentially Arizonan adobe home.

A storied Phoenix adobe proves everything old is new again.

By Carly Scholl | Photography by Laura Moss

Buying a historic home—especially one listed on the National Register of Historic Places—often comes with implicit expectations. One must become a preservationist, archivist and historian of not only the original brick and mortar but also the original spirit of the home. Scott Burdick, a managing partner at a Valley interior design firm, seemed up for such a challenge when he purchased Rancho Arroyo, a nearly 100-year-old adobe in Phoenix.

“I grew up in Paradise Valley in a large 1930s adobe,” Scott reminisces. “Our family lived there for 40 years until my parents downsized eight years ago. I have an affinity for these kinds of adobe homes. I understand the aesthetic.”

Though originally established in 1926 by architect H.H. Greene, the Pueblo Revival aesthetic of Rancho Arroyo has been lovingly preserved and carefully updated over many decades and through many different homeowners. Architect John Douglas is no stranger to the property, having been recruited in 1995 to make some significant renovations to the home. 

“The house had not been altered since 1926,” Douglas notes. About 15 years after it was built, William Zachary Smith, one of the first registered architects in Arizona, and his wife, Lucille, bought the property. After William died in 1968, Lucille married Hubert Earl, the then-director of the Desert Botanical Garden, who created a world-class Sonoran landscape on the property. These early inhabitants of Rancho Arroyo—or “God’s acre” as it was sometimes called by the lady of the house—carefully maintained the stately adobe and its splendid surrounding gardens for more than 50 years.

“My goal was simplifying what your eye sees so you can focus on individual beautiful things.” ”

—Scott Burdick, homeowner

1. A charming vignette welcomes visitors at the entry to Scott’s historic casita. At the doorstep, a midcentury Mexican honey pot stands in as a planter for a tiny agave, while just inside, an abstract painting by William Tull and a Chinese Cizhou jar repurposed as an umbrella stand set a cozy tone. 2. “I really didn’t do much to the house. I wanted a white background, so I painted everything white,” says Scott. “It’s all about simplifying what your eye sees so you can focus on individual beautiful things.” Beneath beamed ceilings, a serene sitting area is anchored by a vintage Edward Wormley sofa festooned with pillows covered in Peruvian textiles. An antique English mirror creates visual space in the small casita. 3. Various collected treasures—an African senufo cow mask, a charcoal drawing from Berlin artist Andrew Moncrief and vintage Mexican black and white photograph—make a singularly unique gallery wall. 4. “The light in this adobe is pretty spectacular,” Scott points out. “It gets interesting exposure at all times of the day, and it’s all filtered through desert trees and cacti, so it projects these gorgeous designs on the walls.” Basking in this filtered desert light, classic interior design elements, including linen Roman shades and a plush vintage armchair, are offset by dynamic abstract forms. The red organic side table was discovered by Scott in Los Angeles. 5. Antique sawfish saws are ready for their close-up. 6. A Japanese ichiban flower vase.

During the 1995 renovation, the house achieved a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2012, Douglas and builder Greg Hunt returned for more renovations and additions for the new owner. “We redid the kitchen, added on a master wing and revived all the landscaping,” the architect recalls. “The original structures are stuccoed adobe, but in keeping with preservationist codes, the additions are exposed adobe so you can distinguish between the old and new.”

1. At the front exterior of the casita, the potting patio is a charming spot where Scott can tend to smaller species. 2. The casita is surrounded by organ pipe and saguaro cacti, palo verde trees, and red bird of paradise bushes. “Along with the house, the gardens are also historically protected,” notes Scott. A specimen agave is given elevated status in a tall terra cotta planter from Italian artisan Enzo Zago.

After changing ownership many times over the years, Rancho Arroyo finally landed in the capable hands of Scott, who has taken up residence in the 800-square-foot casita (originally the “chauffeur’s quarters”) while he continues work on the main house. “I wasn’t seriously contemplating buying this house,” Scott says. “But when I heard Douglas and Hunt had worked on it, I was sure that they had maintained its original integrity. Their previous involvement assured me that it wouldn’t be a maintenance nightmare.”

As a Valley native and longtime design professional, Scott has developed a definition of “old Arizona style” over the years that is reflected in his new home. “It’s an eclectic look,” he notes, “with influences from tons of different cultures and eras. It’s not just straight ‘Southwestern.’” This concept is expressed throughout the casita, where Scott’s worldly collection of antiques and art from his former homes in New York and London intermingle with modern furnishings, Native American accents, traditional pieces and territorial flair. “I’ve lived all over the world,” Scott says, “but it’s a dream come true to live on this beautiful desert acre in a historical adobe.”

Scott’s approach to interior design not only expresses his aesthetic philosophies but captures the spirit of Rancho Arroyo’s history. “I haven’t done much to the house architecturally,” he says. “I cleaned it up, painted it white for a clean, bright backdrop, pared down my belongings, and then figured out how to make this space new. It’s like how you’d paint a painting—to make something fresh and interesting, you need to mix your materials,” he posits. “If you can blend your antiques and heirlooms with newer pieces, a space can take on new life.”

1. Another Richard Tum Suden painting makes a striking background for a pair of custom green glazed lamps crafted from antique Spanish olive jars. Below this scene is an African Ashanti stool that was a birthday gift from Scott’s mother when he was in college. 2. The breakfast area is a melting pot of global influence. A Swedish table is set with vintage French chairs in front of a mesquite hutch from Mexico, while a graphic Persian Qashqai rug brings unexpected color to the space. 3. A peek into the bedroom reveals a bright orange custom bed, a Chinese chair and what Burdick calls a true treasure—a small Native American smoking cabinet placed next to a chest of drawers. 4.  “This is a little collection of my favorite things,” says Scott. “The large quartz egg is from Nogales. The resin cubes are by Arizona artist Mayme Kratz, and the Japanese rock was a gift.” 5. Scott’s petite closet features a vintage French metal dresser and a butterfly-patterned Navajo rug. More global objets d’art­­—including an African doghan door hung on the wall, a collection of antique boxes and a blown-glass bubble lamp with a rawhide shade—add warmth and visual interest to even the smallest spaces in the house. 6. A Chinese seal stone sits in front of a woven Japanese basket filled with succulents.

Renovation architect: John Douglas, FAIA, John Douglas Architects, Scottsdale, Renovation builder: Greg Hunt, GM Hunt Builders Remodelers, Inc., Phoenix,

Painting (“The Crown” by Richard Tum Suden): Stevens Fine Art, Phoenix,
EXTERIOR—Terra cotta planter:
SITTING AREA—Rug: Mirror (antique): Wiseman and Gale Interiors, Scottsdale, Roman shades: Lamp:

BREAKFAST AREA—Quartz egg: Colored cubes (by Mayme Kratz): Lisa Sette Gallery, Phoenix,
Bedroom— Bed (custom) and bed linens: Painting (antique): Cashmere throw on chair: Throw on bed: Resin sculpture: Vase:



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