JOHN RIORDAN HOUSE
A rental in Jerome, Arizona

About

                         The John Riordan House__________

The John Riordan House is a fully-furnished two-bedroom historically accurate home with a parlor, kitchen, dining room,  modern bathroom with full size shower. Although the house is over 119 years old, it features all new plumbing, electric, gas furnace, air conditioning, and two on site parking spots.


      The lovely front master bedroom features a queen-sized bed along with a back bedroom consisting of one full-sized bed and a trundle bed. The kitchen offers free WiFi internet, an authentic wood-burning stove,  ice box, microwave, induction cooktop, dishwasher and an outside gas BBQ. The house also has a stacked washing machine and gas dryer for extended stays. The patio features more than 1,400 square feet of flagstone and wood deck overlooking the center of Jerome and the Verde Valley.

      There are many interactive historical artifacts in the home that are fully functioning and are encouraged to be utilized. This includes a 1917 floor mounted mahogany cabinet hand crank Victrola record player with several 78 discs, an 1881 Charter Oak wood burning stove with cast iron pots, an 1898 Underwood and Underwood Stereo viewer with over 100 1880's era 3D slides, a Royal 10 double bevel 1915 typewriter,  a Julius Andra 1914 wall phone (non functioning), an 1880 replica front door "bell" , a 1908 Waterbury "Festus" mechanical wind up clock with hourly bells, writable old dip ink pens, an authentic functioning hand water pump, an antique drum clothes washer,  antique clothes wringer and drying rack.  A fully functioning 1910 Beckwith reed "pump" organ was purchased in late 2013 by the movie producers specifically for the use in their movie and generously donated to the John Riordan House.

      The house rental includes all applicable taxes, fresh linens, towels,  kitchen utensils,  serving ware, usable dressers and closet space, indoor and outdoor seating, and personal sized incidental toiletries.

The patio and deck offer unencumbered views of the entire Verde Valley, including Sedona, Mt. Humphries, and Tuzigoot National Monument.  The John Riordan House is located above the very center of town.  Enjoy watching the tourists and listening to the live weekend music from the town below during the day. Then view the huge horizon of star lit skies and valley lights below in the quiet evenings.  Awake with a sunrise originating from the eastern mountain range of the Mazalan Peaks over 80 miles away across the valley below. 

A short 10 minute drive to the west along 89A from the John Riordan House will bring you to the very top of Mingus mountain. With an elevation of 7,815 feet it provides high country pine tree hiking trails, a small lake and the fresh mountain air that feeds Jerome. 



The restoration process for The John Riordan House

The John Riordan house was built in 1898 by the United Verde Copper Company for the mining executives high atop the Town of Jerome, Arizona on "Society Hill".  In 1935 United Verde Copper Company sold the mine and all its real estate holdings, including two full blocks of houses on Society Hill, to the Phelps Dodge Corporation.

In 1997 a consortium of Jerome residents formed the Society Hill Preservation Corporation to purchase the entire bulk parcel of land at the top of Jerome from the Phelps Dodge Corporation. This included 11 houses and 2 lots on Society Hill.  For their investment, and after subdividing the land, each of the members of Society Hill Preservation Corporation obtained title to one lot.  

The current owner purchased the John Riordan House from that Society Hill Preservation member in June of 2012.

From 1898, the Victorian house with sweeping views over the entire town and Verde Valley was occupied for only the first 55 years by various mining executives. The last living occupant of the house being  "Honest" John Riordan who was the head of the employment office and the safety director of the Phelps Dodge mine from 1903 to 1953.  "Honest" John received his well deserved reputation, among other reasons, because he was in charge of properly allocating additional pay to the mine workers for extra work beyond their normal quota.The Riordan's had paid the mine owners the somewhat reasonable rental fee of $21.00 per month for living in the house.

On July 8th, 1953, at 3:30 in the afternoon, a tremendous mudslide, fueled by a clog and break in a 5' diameter concrete water culvert above the house, stuck the John Riordan House.  The mudslide totally annihilated an attached bathroom and sleeping porch located on the left side of the house. The mud also ran all the way down to the main highway in town. State highway 89A was closed until the mud could be removed. Mrs. Willie Ann Johnson, a family friend, had literally just left the bathroom when the mudslide hit.  Mrs. Johnson was the last person to...go...in the house for over 59 years. Although no structural remnants of the actual bathroom remained, many old full medicine bottles and bathroom paraphernalia was recovered from that area of the house. 

Honest John Riordan, his wife, three daughters and two sons occupied the house 1000 square foot house from 1934 until the mudslide hit in 1953.  John Patrick Riordan, now 87 years old and living in San Luis Obispo, California, rescued his father just after the mudslide by carrying him down the steps from the house. In August of 2013 John Patrick Riordan once again returned to his former childhood home. It had literally been 60 years since he had stepped back in to the home until he returned on that day with other family members. Neil Riordan age 81, lived in the family house from 1934 until 1953.  Neil, now living in Chandler, Arizona had visited the John Riordan House during it's reconstruction and has provided valuable details that enabled us to restore the home to its original condition.

The 1953 mudslide had caused substantial damage to the main house. The entire rear of the house had absorbed over 12' of rock and mud along the back walls.  Even though it was severely damaged, the house was somewhat structurally left intact.

In 1952 the mines had closed, never to be reopened. Since 1953, for over 59 years, the John Riordan House had been completely abandoned and the hands of time had taken a toll on it's structure.  The roof was open to the elements.  Plaster and lath had given way. 7' to 2' of mud and rocks covered all the floors. Trees and plants were  growing in the interior of the building.  Water stains from the flood on the interior 3 feet above the floor were still evident.  The original mudslide rocks, 12' high, were wedged between the house and the hillside.

On  June 18th,  2012, the rehabilitation and authentic accurate restoration of the John Riordan House was started.  The owner of Nordic Builders, Inc., www.nordicbldrs.com  a fifth generation carpenter and general contractor,  is proud to be  only the 5th land owner of this 117 year old house in the Nationally Registered Historic Town of Jerome, Arizona.

By August 12, 2012, all of the dirt inside and around the building had been removed.  Upon removal of the  dirt on the interior of the house it was discovered all of the original 2" X 8" floor joists had rolled during the mudslide and were laying flat.  This required complete removal of the entire floor throughout the house. 

All interior walls, exterior walls, front porch, and entire roof system had to be temporarily shored up to allow the removal of all of the old floor sheathing and all floor joists. Jacking up some walls 24" higher than their original grade, aligning all bowed walls and replumbing all walls took 10 days.   4 hydraulic jacks, 4 come-a-longs, cables, 10 ratchet straps, various braces, sledge hammers, and many man hours were used to realign all suspended walls and the roof framing.   

Once the entire floor was removed, 3 new 30 foot long steel I beams, all new 2" X 10" floor joists, and new plywood flooring was installed.  The entire house consisting of all of the suspended walls and roof were then lowered back into place on the new floor system.

The lower 8' of the entire back wall was removed because of  mudslide damage and to allow for new masonry retaining wall.

The roof and back wall were supported by LVL beams bolted to the wall and bearing on the I beams or bearing on the back mountain. All of the old roof sheathing except for the front hip of the house had to be removed.  All new roof rafters where sistered to the existing original rafters.  The entire roof was resheeted with plywood and a new metal roof installed. Over 1400 square feet of wood deck and flagstone patios were added.

Local zoning regulations had required us to create two on site parking spaces. The main 8" water line that literally feeds one half of the businesses and residences of the town of Jerome had to be removed and realigned. The remnants of that old pipe are still evident by the parking area.

As of July of 2013, the house had been completely refinished, furnished, and totally restored. In December of 2013 an independent film producer from LA had used the interior and exterior of the house for major scenes of the movie "A Person Known to Me.".  This house was used as the main character's home in a 1900 era movie shot in Jerome.    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=395297130605542&set=a.196217963846794.48858.196202983848292&type=1&theater

The John Riordan House has been featured on the 49th Annual Jerome Home tour on May 17th and 18th, 2014.  The home tour  drew approximately 1,200 people.   

The John Riordan House was also be the Arizona "STAYCATION" destination for the winner of KTAR's Rosie On the House radio program.

The John Riordan House and the story of the two Riordan brothers returning after 60 year absence was featured in the  November 2014 issue of Arizona Highways.
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