Filed Under Architecture

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.

Images

Monti's Steaks
Monti's Steaks Monti's La Casa Vieja was purchased by Leonard Monti in 1954. Source: The Arizona Republic Creator: Monti Family Date: 1954
Hayden House
Hayden House The updated second story of Hayden House in the early twentieth century. Source: Monti Family Date: 1900s.
Monti's Bar
Monti's Bar The bar area of Monti's. Source: The Arizona Republic Creator: Michael Monti Date: April 1970
Monti's Caters to a Crowd
Monti's Caters to a Crowd Patrons dining at Monti's steakhouse in the 1970s. Source: The Arizona Republic Creator: Michael Monti Date: 1970s
Dining at Monti's
Dining at Monti's A group dines at Monti's in 1987 Source: The Arizona Republic Creator: Michael Monti Date: 1987
The original Hayden House Patio
The original Hayden House Patio A view of the patio at La Casa Vieja in 1924. Source: Tempe Historical Museum/The Arizona Republic Date: 1924
Monti's Memorabilia
Monti's Memorabilia The walls at Monti's were covered with historic memorabilia. Source: The Arizona Republic Creator: The Arizona Republic Date: 2011
Original Interior
Original Interior This is an original room with a 1924 remodel inside the old Monti's La Casa Vieja. Source: Arizona Republic Creator: Tom Tingle Date: March 21, 2019
Carl Hayden's Birthplace
Carl Hayden's Birthplace Carl Hayden was born in this room, part of the original. La Casa Vieja. Source: Arizona Republic Creator: Tom Tingle Date: March 21, 2019
Wooden Ceiling
Wooden Ceiling The original wood ceiling is exposed during demolition. Source: The Arizona Republic Creator: Paulina Pineda Date: March 21, 2019
The Fountain Room
The Fountain Room Monti's La Casa Vieja fountain room in 2011, also known as the haunted room. Source: The Arizona Republic Creator: The Arizona Republic Date: 2011
The Fountain Room
The Fountain Room This once was an outdoor courtyard which became known as "The Fountain Room". Source: The Arizona Republic Creator: Paulina Pineda Date: March 21, 2019

Metadata

Jennifer Schaper , “Monti's La Casa Vieja,” Salt River Stories, accessed May 23, 2024, https://saltriverstories.org/items/show/449.