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Contributed by Arizona Historical Society Library and Archives, Tempe
The architectural team of Lescher-Mahoney can be seen throughout Arizona in schools, hospitals, and churches as well as residential, commercial and government buildings. They were prolific, practical, civic-minded partners who designed such prominent buildings as the Orpheum Theater, Veterans Memorial Coliseum, St. Mary's School, the Title and Trust Building, and the Good Samaritan Hospital. Many Lescher-Mahoney structures are now on the National Register. For a well-researched history of the firm, see Dr. Donna Reiner's paper From Gas Stations to Chicken Coops: The Architectural Firm of Lescher and Mahoney Phoenix, Arizona 1910-1974 made available in the collection with her kind permission.
Apart from the built environment, they left behind a collection of 19,000 drawings representing over 1,500 projects. Another 10,000 drawings exist only on microfilm; the originals were destroyed in the 1950s and 1960s as was the practice after microfilming. The images featured here are taken from 70 mm microfilm previously inaccessible due to reel size and chemical deterioration. Now 11 of the 25 microfilm rolls have been digitized using state-of-the-art camera and image-enhancing software.
The images themselves not only testify to their prolific careers, but also represent the amazing skill and artistry created by Lescher and Mahoney. Many of the images contain intricate detailing, symmetry and design that are valuable for their historical details as well as aesthetic qualities. The images also document changes in technology, societal viewpoints, and architectural styles. Of the 3,850 digital images on file, the drawings were selected based on: clarity and legibility; type of structure and uniqueness; historical significance and time period; geographical location and aesthetics. These hand-drawn images were also chosen for their visual appeal, precise as they are stunning. For all the projects captured on microfilm, see the complete microfilm list posted with this collection.
This unusual and challenging project would not have been possible without the funding, advocacy and support of preservation architect Ron Peters, John Williams of The Rio Salado Architecture Foundation, and Bryce Pearsall of DLR Group which purchased the Lescher-Mahoney firm in 1974. Mr. Pearsall compiled the Historical Record of Drawings of Lescher and Mahoney Architects - a comprehensive list of over 2,500 jobs and commissions now on file at the Arizona Historical Society-Papago Park.
Last but not least, we dedicate this project to John Jacquemart now with the City of Phoenix Preservation Office https://www.phoenix.gov/pdd/historic. He labored untold hours unrolling the film by hand and recording every frame. For years, his handwritten list was the only access to drawings that exist nowhere else.