Extraordinary Trip Back in Flagstaff History

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by MilwVon on March 27, 2009

The Riordan Mansion was the "duplex" home of Tim & Michael Riordan, two Midwesterners who settled in Flagstaff in the 1890's to help brother Matt run the local lumber mill. In 1904 this mansion was completed and the two families moved in to this architectural marvel designed by the same person who did the El Tovar Lodge on the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

It is referred to loosely as a duplex in that it has two separate living quarters, over 6,000 sq ft each, with a central "cabin" or family area that was shared by both families with an additional 1,000 sq ft space. In total, the Riordan Mansion is over 13,000 sq ft and 40 rooms!

Tim and his wife, along with their two children and several house servants lived in the eastern end of the mansion area . . . while Michael and his wife, five kids and sister-in-law lived in the western part of the home. Today tours are provided by AZ State Parks rangers, providing a remarkable insight into life in Flagstaff in the early 1900's before Arizona even achieved statehood.

The tour of the eastern "Tim Riordan Family Home" is completely furnished with items found in both sides of the mansion. The detail that has been maintained right down to the furnishings, wall coverings and kitchen features is very impressive. Unfortunately, photographs are not permitted on this side of the mansion, nor the central "cabin" area.

As we were led through the home, from the first floor to the second with the bedrooms, servants' quarters and bathrooms . . . back down to the kitchen, breakfast dining area, formal dining room and the living room I was simply in awe. From the beautiful and stately handcrafted walnut furniture to the original stain glass windows, this home was well designed to maximize natural lighting, space while being functional and inviting to guests.

This home was one of the first to have indoor plumbing, full electricity throughout and a six car garage! YES - six cars!! They also had telephone service and a very elaborate call system to contact their servants, bringing them to the area of the house requiring their attention or services.

The western "Michael Riordan Family Home" was less furnished and has been developed more into an area to tell more of the Riordan Family story and about life in Flagstaff during this time. Photos were permitted here, although they really do not portray the full story as seen in the fully furnished side of the mansion.

The Riordan Mansion was still lived in by the Riordan heirs until the 1980's. One of Tim Riordan's sons-in-law lived in the east wing home until his death in 1980; while one of Michael Riordan's daughters lived in the western side of the home until her death in 1985. Before their deaths, they made arrangements to donate the Riordan Mansion and most of the homes' furnishings to the State of Arizona to become a state park. The incredible generosity of this family is chronicled in this AZ State Parks article: http://azstateparks.com/Parks/RIMA/history.html .

This AZ State Park is truly a remarkable documentation of life and history in Flagstaff by a family who significantly contributed to the people and development of this great city. More information can be found at: http://azstateparks.com/Parks/RIMA/index.html to include this link to a historical documentation of how the Riordan Family built this community: http://azstateparks.com/Parks/RIMA/feature.html .

Please note, tours are provided on the hour and last about an hour, starting at 9:00am and with the last scheduled at 4:00pm. Reservations are highly recommended due to the small, intimate nature of the tours. There is a $6.00/adult fee for the guided tour throughout the mansion.
Riordan Mansion State Historic Park
409 West Riordan Road
Flagstaff, Arizona, 86001
(928) 779-4395


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