You can't see the El Conquistador Hotel, Rockfellow's elegant 1928 masterpiece: It was demolished in the '60s to make way for the hopelessly homely El Con Mall, 3601 E. Broadway Blvd., during a decade-long Tucson frenzy of destruction of the best of the city's past. But you can still see a host of other buildings by Tucson's first female architect.
From the late 1910s through the '30s, Annie Graham Rockfellow (1866-1954) gave the city some of its most memorable Spanish Mission Revival and Pueblo Revival buildings, and she was an early supporter of historic preservation. Her work was misattributed by subsequent generations to her male boss, Henry Jaastad, who had neither the eye nor the training of his star employee. (Rockfellow was one of the first women to graduate from MIT's architecture program.)
Her extant buildings include TUSD's still-working Safford School, a 1918 Spanish Mission Revival splendor at 300 S. Fifth Ave. in Armory Park; the 1930 Historic YWCA, 738 N. Fifth Ave. in West University; the original buildings of the 1926 Desert Sanitarium, now Tucson Medical Center, 5301 E. Grant Road; and the last remnant of the old El Con Hotel, the water tower south across Broadway from the mall. To see a Rockfellow private home, rent the Whoopi Goldberg video Boys on the Side. Built in 1932 for R.P. Boss, the beautiful Pueblo-style house where the gals hole up is another Rockfellow creation.
The folks at the UA Architectural Archives are engaged in a detective project to determine which other Tucson buildings were Rockfellow's. Likely candidate: University Heights elementary school, another lovely piece of Mission Revival. Now converted into student apartments, the building is at 1201 N. Park Ave., just north of Speedway.