One of Arizona’s Most Architecturally Significant Homes Just Hit the Market for $2M

One of Arizona’s Most Architecturally Significant Homes Just Hit the Market for $2M

By Kathryn M.
Built in 1975, the Ramada House is widely considered to be one of the most significant residences in the Grand Canyon State.

In many ways, Judith Chafee was a trailblazer. Graduating as the only woman in her class, the Yale-educated architect kicked off her career working under some of the greats of 20th-century architecture: Eero Saarinen, Paul Rudolph, Edward Larrabee Barnes, and Walter Gropius.

Next, Chafee snagged the cover of Architectural Record with her first independent commission, the 1969 Ruth Merrill House in Connecticut. Never before had the prestigious honor been given to a female architect—and it ended up being the first of three covers she would land throughout her career.

The Ramada House in Tucson, Arizona, is one of Chafee’s most recognized designs. In 1983, she became the first woman from Arizona to be named a fellow at the American Institute of Architects.

At the height of her career in the late ’60s, Chafee returned to her homeland of Tucson, Arizona, to set up a permanent practice and seek familiar inspiration. Having grown up in the area, she possessed an intuitive knowledge of the local landscape, which is reflected in some of her best-known works. One such property, officially known as the Ramada House, was recently listed for sale—and it’s a rare opportunity to own a historic piece of desert architecture.

The home’s namesake is a 26-foot-tall shade structure called a ramada. The name derives from the Spanish word for ‘branches,’ and it’s a regional construction technique mastered by the Tohono O'odha tribe. A total of 20 Douglas fir telephone poles support the 2 x 4 lattice canopy, which provides shade and casts dramatic shadows across the white, mortar-washed slump blocks.

The Ramada House is an exceptional example of how Chafee embraced critical regionalism—an architectural approach that responds to local cultures, geography, and climates while retaining the distinctive characteristics of modernism.

In 2006, the home was added the National Register of Historic Places. The application stated: "Chafee incorporates exposed structural elements, the use of primary geometry, and an emphasis on light-filled space. An examination of the building plan recalls the work of Le Corbusier with its grid of posts and free plan."

The home’s floor plan separates the public and private spaces over multiple levels. The main entrance sits on the middle level, with the master bedroom lies a few steps up and to the right of the door.

Inside, poles from the ramada freely intersect with the living spaces, which stretch across nearly 4,000 square feet. The four-bedroom, four-bathroom home has been meticulously maintained by its original owner for the last 45 years. Now seeking a new owner, this property is listed for $1,995,000.

On the other side of the front door, stairs lead up to the remaining bedrooms. A large bay window—protected from the Arizona sun by the ramada—graces the foyer leading to the dining room.

A few steps down is the formal dining room, which easily accommodates a table for eight. Original concrete tile floors run throughout the main living areas.

Also off the main entrance is the living room, which features an expansive bay window with views of the desert landscape and Mount Kimball in the distance.

This full-height bay window juts out of the home, allowing one to "step into" the desert scenery. Poles supporting the ramada pierce down into the living spaces, establishing a continuous connection between the two structures.

The home’s original kitchen remains intact, having only seen minor cosmetic updates since 1975—including new appliances and granite countertops.

A breakfast area provides direct access to the rear yard via a large sliding glass door.

A look at the master bedroom, which offers direct access to the yard. A large picture window lets in natural light and frames picturesque mountain views.

The master bathroom features plenty of cabinetry and a double vanity. Original custom-designed Talavera bath tiles line the shower.

A second-story deck is also shaded by the Ramada. The home’s landmark status application noted that "the elevated shade structure channels the natural foothills breeze...it serves an aesthetic form of ornamentation, as well as a functional purpose."

A large patio overlooks the 8.75-acre lot and backyard pool.

 A 40-foot pool finished in earth-colored plaster provides respite from the warm Arizona summers.

The Ramada House at 2801 E Camino Norberto in Tucson, AZ, is currently listed for $1,995,000 by Scott Jarson and Debbie Jarson of azarchitecture/Jarson & Jarson Real Estate.

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