- William Horner
Sunnyslope’s Dutch Village “Electrifies” Phoenix
“It’s Tulip Time at Dutch Village” sounds like a promotion for a plant nursery, not a Phoenix housing tract. But the subdivision located in Sunnyslope at the southeast corner of 19th and Dunlap avenues marketed its Dutch theme by offering potential buyers a complimentary package of tulip bulbs for visiting in 1958. Although featuring Old-World charm, the face of the development was 19-year-old Nanci Ratts, a senior at North High School, garbed in traditional Dutch clothing including wooden shoes.
Another unique feature of Dutch Village was their “all electric” homes, which were said to be cheaper for homeowners because of their radiant heat. The homes’ interiors included electric dryers, which “…eliminated the need to iron clothing and household linens,” according to a 1958 advertisement in the Arizona Republic. “For a family of four, the electric bill is only $1.44 per month.” The person behind this unique Sunnyslope subdivision was Robert Healy, a newcomer to the Phoenix residential construction market.
Healy was from Tacoma, Washington, where he had worked in construction and real estate, along with his father and two uncles, in a family business. In the early 1950s, Healy expanded into tract development. Healy was a frequent visitor to the Valley in the mid-1950s, when he assembled a staff to develop Dutch Village. He eventually moved to Phoenix in 1957.
Healy Homes management included Etsel Denney, vice president of home sales and Jack Fowler, vice president of construction. Both men had worked in the industry in Arizona for many years. Fowler, however, soon left to work for a new company, Supreme Builders.
A local firm, Charles & Arthur Schreiber Architects, was selected to design the Dutch-themed homes. The Schreiber firm was nationally respected, having won many awards and honors for their work. The two brothers typically did commercial jobs but also created several themed-subdivisions for developers, including Dutch Village.
The subdivision’s model, Ratts, drove the first stake for the development in early April 1958. Before her Dutch Village work, the high school senior had participated in modeling and beauty contests in Phoenix.
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This article originally appeared in the Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, Sept/Oct 2019 issue, Vol. 8, No.5. The Arizona Contractor & Community magazine is a bi-monthly publication.