We visited Riordan Mansion the summer of 1992. As with similar historic sites, we were again amazed by the luxury and opulence of turn of the century (early 1900s) dwellings in the rough and tumble West. Built for the logging Riordan brothers Timothy and Michael in 1904 after their marriage to the Metz sisters, Caroline and Elizabeth, this stylish and spacious "duplex" gave new meaning to the term "gracious living" in Flagstaff. The mansion consists of two sections connected by a large billiard/recreation room. Timothy and family lived in one section, Michael and family in the other. Almost 10 years after our visit, the West section was opened after the passing of Michael Riordan’s last immediate descendent who had been living in it since 1985.
This 40 room home containing more than 13,000 square feet of living space was built in the Craftsman (also known as Arts and Crafts) style, which came out of a reaction against the industrial revolution and mass production technologies, as well as opposed to the elaborate, complex and flamboyant Victorian style popular during that time. The same architect who created the El Tovar Hotel in the Grand Canyon, Charles Whittlesey, designed the Riordan mansion. Much of the original furniture inside the mansion was designed by Gustav Stickley, whose magazine, The Craftsman published plans for this particular style of house. Both Craftsman homes and furniture emphasized simplicity, quality, and natural materials, often using local wood and stone. This home features log-slab siding exterior, volcanic stone arches, and hand-split wooden shingles.
In spite of its large size, the home appears quite livable. From large to small items of furniture and decorations, the feel of the mansion is authentic, almost like you’d expect a horde of Riordan children to come running through the great billiard room. For a description of the Riordan family and some of the events that took place in the "duplex", read Riordan Mansion State Historic Park. The mansion is open from May to October, 8:30 to 5 PM daily. Guided tours are given on the hour. For more information call 928-779-4395.