Hiram Stevens first came to Tucson in 1865 and purchased property for a house in April 1866. On the lot to the north of Stevens newly-purchased property was a one-room structure known as the Duffield House (Duffield had been the United States Marshal in Arizona in 1864) which Stevens purchased in 1874. Sometime over the next nine years, Stevens joined his house to the former Duffield House by a long corridor.
Hiram Stevens was a colorful man. He was well known in Tucson and throughout the country for his business acumen and political success in the state legislature as well as local government. He met his wife, Petra Santa Cruz, while allegedly looking for someone to do his laundry. It took him three years to win her grandmother’s approval, but he was finally successful and they were married when Petra was 18. During the course of their marriage, the Stevens entertained in grand style, hosting events as diverse as political parties and town weddings. Hiram Stevens had a reputation for doing things in a “big western way.”
However, Stevens’ business began failing in his later life, and in 1893 he shot and killed himself after attempting to shoot his wife. She was saved by the heavy Spanish comb which she wore in her hair. Petra Stevens inherited the house, surrounding property, and stock in a failing hardware store.
Today, the Stevens House serves as gallery space and is named the Palice Pavilion. Featuring many pieces from the Museum’s extensive Art of Latin America collection, the Palice Pavilion showcases art from pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial eras to contemporary folk art.
For Your Information
Records for buildings on the historic block are housed in the Research Library and open to the public during regular library hours.