The Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights, lovingly referred to as a “Jewell in the Desert”, stands out in the landscape of the Valley of Sun in Phoenix, Arizona, a beacon in the desert. The history of the castle dates back to 1908, when F.L. and Lizzie Warner set up their 160-acre homestead on the desert land. A house was built atop a rocky knoll, and here the history of the castle begins. They doubled their holdings by adding an adjacent parcel of land, and through the next few years they subdivided the property and sold off portions of it. In 1928, 277 acres were sold to Alessio Carraro.
Alessio Carraro was an Italian immigrant who came to the United States in 1907 and grew his fortune by founding a sheet metal business in San Francisco, California. He became a successful land developer and came to Arizona in hopes of developing the desert east of Phoenix into a destination resort and housing subdivision, which he would call Carraro Heights. The centerpiece would be a hotel – which is the building we see today. Unfortunately, the dream would not reach its fruition, and the property was sold in 1931. The property was purchased by Edward Ambrose Tovrea and his second wife, Della. Edward had made his fortune in the meatpacking and manufacturing business and enjoyed great success and loyal employees. They resided there until their deaths, and in 1993 the Castle and the 44-acre Cactus Gardens were purchased by the City of Phoenix.
Today tours of the Tovrea Castle and the Cactus Gardens are conducted daily, a delightful entertainment for all ages. The castle is maintained and managed by the Tovrea Carraro Society, dedicated to preserving this little piece of unique and intriguing history.
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