By Virginia Volkman, Library Director
Sedona AZ (October 2, 2015) – We invite you to join Kathy Farretta, a speaker for Arizona Humanities, for “Community Builders: The Riordan Families of Flagstaff, 1884-1904” on Wednesday, October 7, at 1:30 p.m. at Sedona Winds, 405 Jacks Canyon Road. During this presentation, Farretta will share the history of the Riordan family. The program, generously funded by Arizona Humanities and the Friends of the Sedona Library, is free and open to the public.
The Riordan connection to what was then the Arizona Territory, started in the 1880s when Matt Riordan and his half-brothers Michael and Timothy settled in the Flagstaff area. They started out in the lumber business, and were also involved in railroads, cattle, banking, and politics.
As business leaders and the largest employers in Flagstaff, they supported its business and economic development. In a new and growing frontier environment, this meant securing government services, attracting industry to diversify the economy, and making technological improvements for the community. They established medical care, churches, schools, and the infrastructure needed for a healthy community.
The Riordan brothers were especially interested in the cultivation of science and helped establish some of the most important institutions in the community: Northern Arizona University, Lowell Observatory, and the Fort Valley Experimental Forest Station.
In 1904 Michael and Timothy built almost identical, connected homes, known as Riordan Mansion. The property is now the Riordan Mansion State Park. It is an impressive reminder of gracious living in a small, territorial logging town.
The historic building is a remarkable example of Arts and Crafts style architecture featuring a rustic exterior of log-slab siding, volcanic stone arches, and hand-split wooden shingles. The expansive home has forty rooms, over 13,000 square-feet of living area, and servants’ quarters. The Riordan residence was designed by the creator of Grand Canyon’s El Tovar Hotel, Charles Whittlesey.
Guided tours of the Mansion are given daily. Visitors are led through the pristine historic home, which is filled with original artifacts, handcrafted furniture, and personal mementos of the Riordan families. The impressive home contains an exceptional collection of Craftsman furnishings, with appointments by Edison, Stickley, Ellis, and Steinway. Displays about the family, the Arts and Crafts movement, and other local interests are also included as part of the tour.
Sedona also benefited from the community-building legacy of the Riordan family. Sedona resident Mary Malmgren is the granddaughter of Tim and Caroline Riordan. Though her parents moved to Los Angeles soon after her birth, she spent many summers visiting her family in Flagstaff. Eventually she settled in Sedona with her husband, Jack Malmgren.
Soon after their arrival, the Malmgrens became involved in building some of Sedona’s landmarks. Mary volunteered at the Sedona Arts Center and helped form the Sedona Heritage Museum. She also helped form the Muses, an organization that supports and promotes the Museum of Northern Arizona. Jack was involved with establishing Posse Grounds Park, and the Jack Malmgren Memorial Skate Park is named in his honor.
It takes dedicated and inspired people to build a community. Northern Arizona is a better place because of the many organizations that the Riordan family founded and supported.
Sedona Public Library is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Donations and grants allow us to continue to offer free and innovative services to residents and visitors. Your tax-deductible donation is appreciated and may be sent to: Sedona Public Library, 3250 White Bear Road, Sedona, AZ 86336