NETO'S TUCSON: Former Club Contains Historic but Deteriorating Mural

By Ernesto Portillo JR. | AZ Daily Star, January 20, 2013 | Go to article overview

NETO'S TUCSON: Former Club Contains Historic but Deteriorating Mural


Ernesto Portillo JR., AZ Daily Star


The Bates Mansion, on North Stone Avenue and West Franklin Street, is a downtown landmark - well known for three decades as the former home of the Mountain Oyster Club, a private club where Tucson's elite relaxed and made deals.

But lesser known and maybe more important to Tucson's history is that the old club's dining room is home to Salvador Corona's murals.

Corona, who came to Tucson from Mexico in the mid-1940s and died in 1990, was for many years one of Tucson's leading artists. His graceful, folk-art renditions of Colonial Mexico can still be found in some Tucson homes and businesses.

The Bates Mansion is one of three known Arizona properties to have Corona's murals. Not only is the 49-year-old dining room mural rare, it is deteriorating. A local effort is under way to preserve it.

The mural and two others by Corona in the mansion are considered significant contributions to Tucson's historic and cultural heritage, according to Archaeology Southwest, a nonprofit research and education institute whose offices are located in the building.

Corona's work is representative of the folk-art tradition that came to Tucson at a time when the city was trying to redefine itself, said Diane Dittemore, an ethnological collections curator at the Arizona State Museum. Dittemore and her husband, Seth Schindler, are partners with Archaeology Southwest to preserve the murals and convert the property into commercial space.

The mansion, which sits just south of the North Stone underpass on the southwest corner, is listed on the National Historic Registry. It shares a common adobe wall with the historic Jacome home. The Jacomes owned a downtown department store on North Stone Avenue and were one of Corona's Tucson patrons.

In addition to the large mural in the dining room, there are two small exterior murals. One is over the Stone Avenue entrance, and the second is on the archway of the north-side parking lot facing the inside patio.

But it is the large mural that is in danger. Water in the adobe wall has damaged it and continues to eat away at the colorful scene of bucolic Colonial Mexico. …

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