The Fish House was built in 1868 by Edward Nye Fish, an enthusiastic and enterprising man who had made his name and fortune in California before coming to Tucson. Originally a Massachusetts native, Fish and twenty of his friends sailed a boat from New Bedford, Massachusetts to San Francisco, California, arriving in December of 1849. At the time San Francisco was suffering a tremendous housing shortage and Fish and his men came prepared with a ship full of frame houses cut and ready to assemble. By the time he came to Tucson in 1865, Fish was a wealthy man and had a wife and daughter. He built a house for them on what is now the southwest corner of the Historic Block.
The land where the Fish House stands was originally owned by Mark Aldrich who sold his property to Fish for $3,000 in 1868. Near the property stood the old guard house that was a part of the Presidio Wall. The house was originally an L-shaped building with one bedroom to the north and a formal parlor, where all the children were married, at the southwest corner. Sometime during the early 1880’s, two more rooms were added to the north and three rooms were added in a wing to the south.
Inside, the Fish House was quite ornate with furnishings and china imported from Europe. It was one of the first Tucson homes to have wooden floors and served as the center of social life. Many people were entertained at the Fish House, including President and Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes and Governor Safford.
Today, the Fish House serves as gallery space and is named the John K. Goodman Pavilion of Western Art. Featuring many pieces from the museum’s notable Art of the American West collection, the Goodman Pavilion also showcases original and traveling exhibitions throughout the year.
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.