The Stevens/Duffield House is located on Main Avenue next to the Edward Nye Fish House. Today, the Stevens/Duffield House is home to the museum’s award-winning restaurant Café à la C’Art. Interestingly, both properties and their original owners of the buildings have intriguing, intertwined histories.
Hiram Stevens first came to Tucson in 1856 and purchased property for a house in April 1865 for $50. 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. It is known that he was once a post trader for the Army, miner, sheep rancher, hotelier, and was twice elected to the U.S. Congress.
His home was one of the grandest in the area. It was located on Calle Real, today’s Main Ave, north of Edward Nye Fish’s home. The house included an aviary, grape arbor, carriage house, and hay barn. He lived on the property with his wife, Petra Santa Cruz. Stevens entertained in grand style, hosting events as diverse as political parties and town weddings.
Milton B. Duffield, a hot-tempered man, purchased the one-room building adjacent to the Stevens home. He came to Tucson in 1863 as U.S. Marshal in Arizona and served for two years. For a time, he was employed as a special postal agent, and in 1870 he became engaged in a heated mining claim. Duffield was shot and killed by the man with whom he was engaged in the property dispute. Stevens bought the Duffield house and expanded home in 1874, joining the two buildings by a long and narrow connecting corridor.
In 1893, as a Pima County Supervisor, Stevens went with the Board to inspect the newly surveyed Nogales Road. Upon his return, for reasons unknown, he shot his wife, Petra, and shot and killed himself. Petra survived because of the heavy Spanish comb that she wore in her hair. She remained in the house until her death in 1916, after which her daughter Eliza occupied the home with her children until 1919 when Knox Corbett, new owner of the house, asked her to leave. It was then leased to private families until 1936, when it was purchased by Hoagland Gates.
The Stevens/Duffield Houses continued to change hands until the City of Tucson acquired them in 1968 with the other buildings on the block as part of its Urban Redevelopment Program. The property, along with the other surrounding structures, was leased to the Tucson Museum of Art in 1973.