Tempe Hardware Building

The Tempe Hardware Building’s story extends beyond the hammers, saws, and long pieces of plywood that were displayed on its first floor walls for 70 years between 1906 and 1976. The three-story brick commercial building is the last of its kind from Arizona’s territorial days.

If walls could talk, the Tempe Hardware Building would tell of countless stories and gossips from the past. This is because the Tempe Hardware Building was originally built as Odd Fellows Hall in 1899, complete with a second-floor ballroom. Tempe was a lively town when the Odd Fellows built the building; it had telephone service, a wastewater disposal ditch, and electricity. The ballroom was used for many different activities and social gatherings including political meetings, speeches, and weekly dances. Over the years the ballroom hosted events for the Masonic Lodge, Pythian Sisters, American Legion, Rotary Club, and Good Templars. The Odd Fellows held meetings in Odd Fellows Hall and hosted dances and funerals there until 1905. The organization could not afford the lease and in 1906 Michael E. Curry, George L. Compton, and B. B. Moeur formed the Tempe Hardware Company.

The Tempe Preservation Foundation reports that the building was "originally built as the Odd Fellows Hall in 1899." They also describe it as having been home to multiple different organizations over the years, with the Tempe Hardware Co. occupying the principle floor from 1906 to 1976, which makes "it one of the oldest continually operated business in Tempe history. It is best known as the oldest 3-story brick building in Maricopa County."


Tempe Hardware Interior, ca. 1900
Tempe Hardware Interior, ca. 1900 Descended from general stores of the 1800s, the Hardware store became an integral part of communities throughout the U.S. by the turn of the century, providing "hard" products like building supplies and tools to the community. Photo courtesy of Tempe History Museum. Source: Interior of Tempe Hardware Store on Mill, 1900. 1987.1.2870.Tempe History Museum.
Storefront, ca. 1975
Storefront, ca. 1975 Taken of the Tempe Hardware building in 1975 during a period of redevelopment for downtown Tempe and Mill Avenue. Photo courtesy of Tempe History Museum. Source: View of Tempe Hardware Company at 520 South Mill Avenue, December 29, 1975. 999.29.513.
Mill Avenue Holiday Parade, ca. 1955<br />
Mill Avenue Holiday Parade, ca. 1955
The Tempe Hardware Building serves as a backdrop in this photograph of a holiday parade in 1955. Downtown Mill Avenue has hosted many parades throughout its history. Photo courtesy of Tempe History Museum. Source: Mill Avenue Parade: Gingerbread House, 1955. 2004.45.111. Tempe History Museum.
Back of Tempe Hardware Building, ca. 1984
Back of Tempe Hardware Building, ca. 1984 The Tempe Hardware Company operated from 1906 until 1976, supplying building supplies and other "hard" goods to the growing Tempe community. Source: Tempe Hardware Building-Rear Entry, October 1, 1984. 1997.8.64. Tempe History Museum.



Thomas Black and Tempe Preservation Foundation, “Tempe Hardware Building,” Salt River Stories, accessed May 19, 2024, https://saltriverstories.org/items/show/51.