By Rusty Bradshaw
The Del Webb Sun Cities Museum has a new look, both inside and outside the main structure.
Residents in the area of the museum will notice it has a new paint job. Museum officials decided to paint the main building pink with white trim to match the look of the building when Chloe and John McDonald bought it in 1962. Prior to that, the house was one of five original model homes for the Del Webb Corp. when it was developing the community and selling homes in 1960.
“We wanted to take people back to the beginning of Sun City,” said Linda Borton, museum office manager.
When the museum begins its winter hours Monday, Sept. 16, visitors will see a new exhibit inside. “The Boswell Connection” chronicles the life of James G. Boswell and how he helped shape the Sun Cities.
“While many have heard of the Boswell name, few realize the extent of the influence James G. Boswell II had on the development of this area,” Ed Allen, museum spokesman, stated in an email.
The museum’s winter hours will be 1-4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. While there is no charge for museum admission, donations are accepted.
Visitors will also see final work being done on an addition to the museum that will add about 7,000 square feet for exhibit space. However, the addition will not be open to visitors until Friday, Nov. 1, according to Mr. Allen.
James G. Boswell II was Del Webb’s partner in the development of the Sun Cities.
In the 1940s, the Boswell Company had purchased many of the Arizona cotton plantations from Goodyear. After his service in World War II, the young Mr. Boswell went to work for his uncle Walter, who managed the Arizona operations, according to Mr. Allen. Upon Walter’s retirement, James took over running them, and he was so successful he was named president of the Boswell Company at age 29.
In 1959, Mr. Boswell learned of Mr. Webb’s plan for a unique, active adult retirement community and that he hadn’t acquired any land, according to Mr. Allen. Mr. Boswell offered the 10,000-acre Marinette Ranch, along with the north Santa Fe Ranch, which underlies a portion of today’s Sun City West.
“The two men struck a deal, forming a unique joint venture, DEVCO, 51% owned by Webb, 49% by Boswell,” Mr. Allen stated. “Webb acquired 20,000 acres, but didn’t have to pay for the land until he developed it. Boswell could continue farming the vacant land, but knew he had a buyer for it as he phased out of cotton due to a falling water table.”
While Mr. Webb was often in the limelight, Mr. Boswell was an active participant behind-the-scenes, according to Mr. Allen. He became a strong supporter of providing health care for the residents, and led the drive for an advanced medical center. Mr. Boswell provided $1.2 million to start the project rolling, and saw that it was named for his uncle, Walter O. Boswell, who he called “the original Arizona Boswell,” according to Mr. Allen.
James Boswell contributed to the community in many ways, not the least of which was 30 years ago donating $30,000 to enable the Sun Cities Area Historical Society to purchase one of the original model homes, which now houses the museum.