Woodlea Melrose Historic District
Nestled in the heart of Central Phoenix lies the Woodlea Melrose District. A hip, yet historic area known for its prideful feel, vintage shops galore, and charming cottage homes.
Area Boundaries + The ‘Melrose Curve’
The Woodlea Melrose District starts on 7th Avenue and Indian School Road in Phoenix and stretches far north to Camelback Rd. If you’ve never noticed, the streets in metropolitan Phoenix are on a north-south-east-west grid and they are just about close to perfect - except in the Woodlea Melrose area!
The ‘Melrose Curve’ as fellow Phoenicians refer to, is the slight angle to which travelers notice as they enter the district. This curve was designed for two reasons, the Arizona Canal and imperfect road building. Take a look at the 1949 road map where the yellow line refers to the the curve and the red line crosses over the canal.
What’s The History?
Woodlea Melrose is 1 out of 35 residential historic districts that is showcased on the National Register of Historic Places. This neighborhood is riddled with some of the oldest, most diverse houses in the Phoenix area all thanks to a man named Thomas Mackenzie. Back in 1928, Mackenzie purchased just 47 acres of lettuce fields for $20,000 and named the area ‘Woodlea’ because of the vast amount of trees. (Fun fact: Mackenzie Drive is named after him!)
Work began right away, building homes and infrastructure throughout the area. In the 1930s, the Depression hit and quickly stalled some building projects. Although, the majority of homes were built between 1928 and 1949, making many properties around 70 to 90 years old.
All About The Houses
With over 300 houses, this district has its own unique architectural style from cottages to ranches to bungalows and more! These homes were made to be single-family and single story with 2 to 3 bedrooms, 1 to 2 bathrooms and square footages ranging from 850 to 1,300. Numerous properties were constructed with concrete block, with some being painted and some stuccoed. You might even find a few made out of adobe, or a kind of clay used as building material.
The properties landscaping varies, with some traditional and some desert front. Next to most homes are concrete driveways with detached garages, only few having attached parking. As you walk down the streets, they are shaded with palm trees, creating the perfect neighborhood vibe.
Must-Try Restaurants + Cafe’s
Not only are the homes one-of-a-kind, but the area is also one that is highly desired. The luscious palm trees, nearby amenities, and even the quick walk or bike to the canal, make it truly the place to be! Some of Phoenix best restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops are just down the Melrose on 7th Ave strip. Here’s the one’s that top our list...
This spot is an attention-grabber! Owner and chef, TJ Culp, is just into his mid 20s, yet he has already had several opportunities to gain experience in the food industry. He has worked for Fox Restaurant Concepts, Zinc Bistro, and is recognized for his Pop-Up PHX dinner series, which is similar to the style at Restaurant Progress.
Photo: Restaurant Progress
This hot breakfast spot opened in 2012 and was named after the owner, DJ Fernandes’ grandmother. (Vovo in Portuguese means grandmother.) The menu features classics like biscuits and gravy and unique favorites like the b.m.o.c (big man on campus), which is a massive pork chop and waffle combo.
A vibrant breakfast eatery that features a fun atmosphere and a ‘secret garden’ patio. This is the perfect place to stop if you’re ever visiting Melrose.
This neighborhood coffee shop and wine bar serves food and drinks to the area, while also providing funding to local nonprofit organizations.
An old gas station that was uniquely built into an aromatic coffee shop. This pit stop was transformed in 2006 and is now filled with several types of coffees and freshly-made pastries. The inside has crazy couches and is a place locals call home.
Photo: Copper Star Coffee
Melrose on 7th is laden with retro finds, secondhand shops, and is known to be the vintage lovers paradise. Our favorite stores feature home furnishings, accessories, clothing, and more. Here’s a list of places you must shop ‘til you drop!
- Melrose Vintage
- Retro Ranch
- Modern on Melrose
- Sweet Salvage
- Twigs and Twine
- Rust & Roses
Photo: Frockify, Melrose Vintage, and Twigs and Twine
Front Yard Friday has been taking place since 2013 and is a monthly neighborhood get-together on a volunteer neighbors’ front yard. It’s a great way to meet new people and neighbors in the area.
Melrose on 7th Avenue Street Fair closes down 7th Avenue from Indian School to Campbell Ave each Spring. This festival has over 150 booths, with activities and a bite of food for all, as well as a car showcase of well over 200 classic cars. This event attracts over 22,000 visitors.
Block Party Cookout is an event held by the Woodlea Melrose Neighborhood Association and is the perfect way to meet neighbors, listen to music, and dance. This annual occurence also benefits the Phoenix Police G.A.I.N (Getting Arizona Involved in Neighborhoods).
WM Luminary Event is a holiday tradition that happens each December. A 4,000 luminary display takes place just before sunset to celebrate and volunteers all over the district come to watch the lights fly high into the sky.
The Woodlea Melrose district is truly a place filled with rich history, retro shops, and classic homes for all to see. This is a must-stop neighborhood for travelers and even Phoenix locals. To learn more about this area, watch our recent video below or visit the Woodlea Melrose District website.
Until next time,
The Myriad Team