Planned to open in Fall 2021
By Mark Carlisle
The Litchfield Park Historical Society’s museum will soon inhabit a piece of Litchfield Park history.
The LPHS is moving its museum from its current location at 13912 W. Camelback Road to the former home of Litchfield Park’s founder, Paul W. Litchfield atop the hill behind the museum’s current location.
Construction is planned to start in Fall 2020 and the museum is planned to open in Fall 2021.
The house, located in the center of an historic 21-acre property, will be repurposed into a museum, archive, research library and site for community gatherings. The museum will be called the P.W. Litchfield Heritage Center.
Pamela Denny Blackford, grandaughter of Paul and Florence Litchfield and daughter of Edith and Wally Denny, and her husband John Blackford pledged a $1 million challenge grant to LPHS and donated $50,000 to begin the planning process for the new museum. Ms. Blackford said she’d long dreamed of the historic house and property being brought back to life.
Design phase of the new museum is complete and the planning phase is underway. The project is expected to cost $3.5 million to convert the private residence into a public building, meeting ADA requirements an expansion of the garage area into a community events space, a lower floor to house artifacts, archive, and research library and an entrance roadway and parking lot for visitors to the site.
Fundraising efforts might include seeking sponsors for various naming opportunities. The name of each donor, no matter the size of the donation, will be written on a wall of founding donors in the new museum. Pick up a packet of materials describing the project and available naming opportunities at the current museum during regular hours, or request a packet by mail. Donations will be placed in the Litchfield Heritage Center Building Fund. This fund is and will continue to be held in a separate account from the LPHS Operational Funds.
The LPHS expects the new museum to be a significant tourist attraction, based on their records showing many of their visitors come from other states and even other countries.
Paul W. Litchfield was an inventor and industrialist who was president and chairman of the board of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Mr. Litchfield expanded Goodyear’s operations and contributed to historic breakthroughs in the rubber, air travel and aeronotic industries. He lived from 1875 to 1959.
The museum will include exhibits about the history of Southwest Cotton Co., Goodyear Farms, Goodyear, Aircraft-Arizona, The Wigwam, Goodyear AerospaceArizona, St. Thomas Aquinas Mission, the Camps of Litchfield Park, and the many early pioneers to the area – farmers, ranchers, merchants and educators, individuals from the Southwest Valley who had an impact beyond our area such as Lattie Coor (former ASU President and CEO) and Charles Barrow (founder of the Barrow Neurological Institute) and the history of the various Southwest Valley communities – Tolleson, Cashion, Avondale, Goodyear, Liberty, Waddell and Litchfield Park.