Monti's La Casa Vieja

The History of Hayden House

The Hayden House was built in 1873, and is the oldest building in the Salt River Valley. It eventually became known as Monti's La Casa Vieja Restaurant after it was purchased by Leonard Monti in 1954. The restaurant remained a Tempe staple for over 60 years, but closed in 2014.

La Casa Vieja, also known as Hayden House, has long been a pillar of Tempe's history. Charles Hayden purchased a tract of land along the Salt River. He eventually built a general store, flour mill, and ferry, giving rise to the name Hayden's Ferry. In 1873, Hayden built his home on the land. It was a small adobe building - and the original structure of La Casa Vieja.

The Hayden family grew, and the original building needed to grow along with it. A second story and several rooms were added between 1876 and 1883. Two daughters and a son were born there; the latter was none other than future Arizona Senator Carl Hayden. However, the homestead was still too small for the burgeoning Hayden family, who moved to a new house in 1889. The original building was dubbed La Casa Vieja, or "old house" in Spanish.

La Casa Vieja served as a boarding house for several years, though it fell into disrepair over time. In 1924, the Hayden daughters renovated the house, returning it to its former glory. They turned it into a restaurant and tea house until the Haydens were forced to sell due to financial troubles. It passed through multiple owners until Leonard Monti purchased it in 1954.

Leonard Monti opened his new restaurant in 1956 and named it Monti's La Casa Vieja. Its reputation for steak and Roman bread made it well-known throughout the Valley - and its well-preserved memorabilia. It became the place to watch ASU games, where they served the fans specials, including the ever-popular Monti Burger.

New rooms were added in the 1960s and 1970s, creating a labyrinthine atmosphere in the historic building. Each room had its own name, its own theme - and its own ghost. According to local legend, the building is supposed to be one of the most haunted in Tempe.

The restaurant closed in 2014 when the building was sold by Monti's son, Michael, to local developers. However, until its closure, La Casa Vieja was the oldest continuously-occupied restaurant in Tempe. While the newer additions to the building were demolished, the original adobe dwelling remains. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 and is the oldest building in the Salt River Valley.