The Stevens/Duffield House is located on Main Avenue along with 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 of the 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. During the course of their marriage, the 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 purchased Duffield’s property in 1874 and adjoined it with his own with a long corridor. However, his business began failing in his later life, and in 1893 he shot and killed himself after attempting to shoot his wife. Petra was saved by the heavy Spanish comb which she wore in her hair. She inherited the house, surrounding property, and stock in a failing hardware store. In 1905 she sold some property on the north side of her home to J. Knox Corbett and her goddaughter, Lizzie Hughes Corbett, to build a home near her. She continued to live in her home until her death in 1916. The Corbetts rented out the Stevens home until it was sold in 1936.
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.