Due to the popularity of Hawaiian themed home sales in the Sands West development in 1961, E.T. Wright (Phoenix home builder) opted to continue to try his luck cashing in on Polynesian Pop Culture. In 1965 he built his second Hawaiian/tiki themed neighborhood in Phoenix called Sands Oasis.
The Sands Oasis development is located about 10 blocks west of Sands West, north of the intersection of 45th Ave. / Northern Ave. in Glendale.
The charm of the romantic South Seas returns to Phoenix in 1965 (click to read)
On August 1, 1965, the home builder ran an ad in the Arizona Republic announcing the grand opening of Sands Oasis, including this amazing piece of tiki architecture for the home sales office located at Sands Oasis.
If the roof of the sales office looks familiar to you as a fan of tiki architecture, it should. It appears to be inspired by the upswept peaked roof of the Half Moon Inn on Shelter Island in San Diego, California.
Shelter Island, San Diego, CA
It is not a coincidence that the roof structures look similar, let me explain…
In August 1959, Hawaii had just become the 50th state. Immediately following, in the early 1960s, Hawaii began a stark transition from an economy based on agricultural export of sugar cane and fruit to an economy based on tourism. During this period, Polynesian Pop culture was at its peak in film, television, music, architecture, and fashion and pushed Hawaii into popular awareness. South Seas images were everywhere.
In the mid 1960s, the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau (CONVIS) viewed Hawaii as a major tourism competitor. In response, starting in 1964 CONVIS began a deliberate and well funded strategy into the early 1970s to market San Diego as a closer-to-home, budget version of this American “paradise”. The Hawaiian-ization of San Diego was in full swing and took place stylistically and architecturally, as well as through the national marketing campaign. (that’s another story for a future multi-series post).
Phoenix was viewed by CONVIS as a prime market for this tourism campaign (along with Denver, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco) and they spent significant advertising dollars in Phoenix.
CONVIS ad in Phoenix Magazine, mid 1960s
CONVIS runs a full page ad in Phoenix Magazine, mid 1960s
Take a look at the text in this full page ad. CONVIS was really pushing hard to compete with Hawaii.
It's the native way!
The exotic South Seas structures found in San Diego were being marketed in Phoenix as an accessible version of Shangri La. This marketing blitz from San Diego must have demonstrated to E.T. Wright that Polynesian Pop was still in full swing, hence his decision to cash in CONVIS marketing efforts and build Sands Oasis.
Detail of the Sands Oasis sales office, inspired by the exotic Shelter Island.
Note a few of the details:
- The decorative carvings on the front and back extended roof beams
- The collection of exotic lamps hanging over the doorway
- A tiki mask or shield on the wall to the right of door
This sales office had a real WOW factor. Unfortunately, if you drive the neighborhood today, very few of the homes actually reflect an exotic theme. More tiki inspired designs can actually be found over in the builder’s first development at Sands West.
There is however, one exception. This home (located at 8126 N. 45th Avenue) exhibits an exotic flair in the roof line echoed from the original sales advertisement.
It is a beautiful example of Desert Polynesia with gravel landscaping for the front yard and various palm trees around the house. I like the ‘Far East’ motif of the iron fencing along the half wall at the front of the house.
Detail of the roof design
Another shot of the upswept peak and decorative ridge beam.
If you are a tikiphile living in the Valley of the Sun, you can thank the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau for all of their effort to promote Polynesian Pop culture in Phoenix. I'm sure that all of that CONVIS advertising for almost 10 years had a significant impact on local restaurants, hotel operators and home builders to keep tiki alive in Phoenix.
Mahalo and enjoy your upcoming holiday weekend!