Nestled under the tallest tower and new apartment buildings in the heart of downtown Tucson is a tiny historic treasure. The Charles O. Brown house with its picturesque porch and two-foot thick adobe walls is now owned by the Arizona Historic Society and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971.
The building’s construction, cited as the oldest in Tucson, spans 1858-1890. Some of the vigas in the rear portion of the building are dated via tree ring analysis to 1840, but it is now believed they were reused from a former structure. What is currently the back portion of the building was constructed first and is a Mexican Territorial style, with the façade right up to the sidewalk on Jackson Street
The portion built along what is now Broadway is the newest section. It shows Victorian influences with its wood posts and curly brackets. The two street front buildings are connected with more small adobe rooms and a large courtyard. Throughout the property, whimsical painted windows remain.
Charles O. Brown, for whom the house is named, was a prominent Tucson citizen who built the original Congress Hall Salon where the first Territorial Legislature meeting took place. Perhaps more exciting to vintage lovers, the Brown family is also noted for importing the first sewing machine into the Territory.
There was much changing of hands of the property among the family and the rooms were used for individual lodging for many years and, by 1937, shops moved in. Riveted is the most recent shop to take up residence.
Owner Jenni Pagano has always wanted a shop in which to feature her creative vision. An interior designer, she curates a collection of vintage furniture and décor as well as jewelry, handmade and upcycled pieces geared towards modern tastes. She has an eye for finding inexpensive treasures and pulling them together for an eclectic look that vibes with the desert-urban community.
Riveted is not a traditional “antique shop” but a place to find many of the vintage and new items seen in design magazines and cool blogs. It’s kind of like Etsy, but without the shipping. Though there is a store online as well as an Etsy Outpost for those who can’t make it into the studio
Recently named an official blogger for Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company (www.Milkpaint.com), Jenni is a new stockist of the natural and no VOC historic paint. Available for consultation on projects of any size, small or large, Jenni loves working with clients to create personal and inviting spaces. She is experienced in all phases and types of interior design, ranging from bank lobbies to home kitchens, real estate staging to do-it-yourself projects as well as custom furniture painting and shopping services. Her clients often use her advice on streamlining what they already have and to get direction for where to go next. Jenni obtained her BFA in Design at UCLA.
Visitors to Riveted are greeted by furry staff member, Talulah, a friendly miniature poodle who, Jenni says, has yet to learn how to operate the cash register! The studio is located at 40 W. Broadway Blvd. and is open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. To learn more, go to www.rivetedstudio.com, follow Riveted Studio on Facebook, Instagram/jennipagano, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 520-882-2756.
Other tenants at Charles O. Brown House include Ben’s Bells’ administrative offices and group studio (https://bensbells.org/) and Borderlands Theatre’s offices and ticket sales (www.borderlandstheater.org).
If you have not been to downtown Tucson in a few years, you will be amazed. A new modern streetcar, hip restaurants and new apartment buildings are sprouting like wildflowers after monsoon. There is something poetic about selling vintage home goods in a vintage home, even among the hustle and bustle of downtown Tucson.
To see the archeology report for the older portion of the building, artifacts found onsite and biographic detail about the owners and inhabitants of 40 W Broadway: www.tucsonaz.gov/files/preservation/Brown_House.pdf.
National Register documents are found at: http://focus.nps.gov/AssetDetail/NRIS/71000117. Some of the details in this article about the Charles O. Brown House came from this information.