When our family took a month-long Route 66 road trip recently, we tried to cram in as much sightseeing as possible along the way. One interesting park that we saw in Flagstaff, Arizona was the Riordan Mansion State Historic Park. For Route 66 travelers passing through Flagstaff, this is a stop definitely worth making.
The Riordan Mansion is not your normal state park. Instead of picnic grounds and playground and maybe a fountain or so, what there is to see is a house. But oh what a house! Built in 1904, this 13,000 square foot house was designed by the same architect who designed the Grand Canyon’s El Tovar Lodge. The Riordan Mansion was constructed in the Arts & Crafts style with log slab siding, hand split wood shingles, stained glass and lava rock. For families who enjoy history and architecture, this home is a treat to view.
What to see
What makes this mansion so unusual is that it was built as a duplex for two brothers who had married two sisters. While each family had their own separate wing, the houses shared a common room in the center, a sort of billiard room where the families could get together in the evenings.
Both floors of the furnished east wing are available for guided tours. Visitors will enjoy looking at the impressive collection of Craftsman furnishings and decor. There also is an unusual air cooling system to watch for, a small wall fountain in the breakfast room, a family chapel located in a small room of the staircase, and a set of (now antique) commercial sized fire hoses hanging on an interior hall wall.
The west wing is only open on the ground floor with several nice displays where visitors can learn about the Riordan family and the Arts & Crafts movement. One item you won’t be able to miss is a large hanging swing positioned in front of the living room fireplace.
Visitors to the site will start their tour at the Visitor’s Center which once served as a Riordan’s garage. The Park is open Thursdays through Mondays with tours starting on the top of the hour beginning at 11am with the last tour at 4pm. Reservations are recommended; we lucked out in that we just showed up on 10:30 on a Sunday morning and were able to join an early tour.
The tour takes about an hour though do plan on spending an additional hour in walking the grounds and visiting the museum. Be aware that no interior photography is permitted. The gift shop does have a nice picture book plus plenty of postcards which show the various rooms for those who want a souvenir of their visit.
Park entrance fee run $10 for adults (14+), Youth $5, and children 6 and under free. For more information about the Riordan Mansion State Historic Park and an interesting little film clip, be sure to visit their website at Arizona State Parks: RIMA.
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