In 1930s Phoenix, the Wrigley Mansion symbolized elegant living.
Perched atop a hill overlooking the Arizona Biltmore hotel, the 16,850-square-foot mansion was built by chewing gum mogul and Chicago Cubs owner William Wrigley Jr. as a winter cottage and a 50th anniversary present for his wife, Ada.
“They spent a lot of time here,” says Jill Hawkins, public relations coordinator for the Wrigley Mansion. “The feeling of the house has always been wonderful because Mr. Wrigley was a wonderful man.”
Visitors to the mansion will get a sense of the man who built it and the time period he lived in when public tours resume Wednesday.
“They get a piece of history that is unlike anything else here,” says Hawkins.
Designed by architect Earl Heitschmidt and completed in 1931, the house was dubbed “La Colina Solana,” which means “sunny hill” in Spanish. With 24 rooms, 12 bathrooms and eight fireplaces, the Wrigley Mansion was the largest private residence in Arizona until the 1960s. It was the smallest of the Wrigleys’ five homes (the other four were in Chicago, Lake Geneva, Wis., and Catalina Island and Pasadena in California).
This winter “cottage” is an eclectic mix of styles found in the Southwest — California mission, Spanish and Mediterranean. Even though the family only spent part of the year in the mansion (it was a stopover on the way to Catalina Island), the Wrigleys furnished and decorated it lavishly.
Wrigley died in the house a year after construction was completed (some employees believe his friendly spirit walks the halls). The mansion became part of the Wrigley-owned Arizona Biltmore and remained in the family until 1972.
George “Geordie” Hormel purchased the mansion in 1992 and began efforts to restore it. Designations as a National Historic Landmark and a Phoenix Point of Pride soon followed. Today visitors dine or enjoy a drink at Geordie’s Restaurant & Lounge (which used to be the porch and library) with a spectacular view of Phoenix.
The tour will take visitors through the rotunda, which was painted by Italian artist Giovanni Smeraldi; the bedrooms, which are now banquet rooms; the library; and the living room. The 3 p.m. tours Friday and Saturday are a popular choice because the lounge opens right after the tour.
Take Loop 202 west to 24th Street. Turn north to Biltmore Circle. Take a right. Follow the signs to the mansion.
The Wrigley Mansion
What: Tour the house built by gum mogul William Wrigley Jr.
When: 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday beginning Sept. 5. Geordie’s Restaurant & Lounge is open 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Where: 2501 E. Telawa Trail, Phoenix
Cost: $11 per person Information: (602) 955-4079 or www.wrigleymansionclub.com