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Historic Miracle Mile gears up for Open House tours

PCC sock hop to celebrate Strip's heyday

The neon signs along Miracle Mile will be aglow this weekend for the 5th Annual Historic Miracle Mile Open House and Tour.

In the area's heyday, Miracle Mile, Oracle Road, and Drachman Street were known as Tucson's "Miracle Mile Strip." During the 1950s, '60s and '70s, Miracle Mile was a popular spot with auto travelers who took a road break at one of the many motels and restaurants along the strip that sported eye-catching neon signs.

One of the many changes visitors will find on this year's tour is a newly renovated Ghost Ranch Lodge.

"It has changed each year, last year the Ghost Ranch Lodge was in a bit of a disarray but there have been even more changes this year. Everyone has the opportunity to go to attend a lot of different events," said Linda Mehall, a staffer for Ward 3 City Councilwoman Karin Uhlich.

The event will begin with a pre-tour at 8 a.m., with tours taking place from 9 a.m. to noon.

Presentations about the historic period will be at Pima Community College's Downtown Campus, 1255 N. Stone Ave.,  at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., and 11 a.m. There also be free shuttles provided by PCC to the different sites, said City of Tucson spokesman Michael Graham.

Presenters at PCC include local historian Dave Devine, Carlos Lozano, founder of Vanishing Tucson, and Demion Clinco, president of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation. 

There will be free shuttle buses traveling to sites on the tour, including Ghost Ranch Lodge, Monterey Court, which is adapted as artists' studios, and Wayward Winds Lodge Motel, which now houses the Gospel Rescue Mission for homeless women and children.

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Tours also will be given at the adobe Matus-Meza House which is being restored as a cultural center for the San Ignacio Yaqui neighborhood, the new Blue Moon Community Garden and four restored neon signs installed along Drachman Street to mark the southern segment of the Historic Miracle Mile, said Graham.

Neon signs donated to PCC by the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation will light up the Neon Mile Sock Hop on Friday from 6-9 p.m., at PCC's Downtown Campus. The signs are from local businesses dating back from the '50s through '70s.

Three bonus sites have been added to this year's tour. A guided tour of Evergreen Cemetery will be given by historic preservationist Ken Scoville starting at 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m., shuttle service will not be provided for this tour.

There also will be a guided tour of Tucson Police Department's new crime lab where visitors have the opportunity to learn about the history of the program and about trace evidence, explosives, DNA and drug analysis. The tour will be given at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon, and will be limited to 15 people per tour.

Visitors also can view a photography exhibit at PCC of some of the world's most famous jazz musicians, including musicians who played at the Blue Moon Ballroom.

The open house and tour event was created by the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, the Ward 3 office, the City of Tucson and PCC.

For more information about the event visit Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation's website, or contact Linda Mehall at 791-4711 or linda.mehall@tucsonaz.gov.

To find out more information about The Neon Mile Sock Hop visit PCC's website.

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1 comment on this story

Apr 26, 2012, 3:05 pm
-0 +1

Too bad I am going out of town this weekend. This looks like a lot of fun.

Kinda shows you how much something as simple as building an interstate highway on the edge of town can drastically change entire neighborhoods!

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City of Tucson

The Ghost Ranch Lodge was in the midst of renovations during last year's tour. The newly renovated motel is on among this year's stops.

If you go

The Neon Mile Sock Hop, sign-lighting ceremony

  • When: Friday, 6-9 p.m.
  • Where: Pima Community College Downtown Campus, 1255 N. Stone Ave.

5th Annual Historic Miracle Mile Open House & Tour

  • When: Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon
  • Where: PCC Downtown Campus
  • Parking: Free with free shuttle service to various tour sites