Frank Craycroft, a mechanical and mining engineer, built one of the most impressive houses of the day on the road that now bears his name.
Craycroft was born in Louisville, Ky., in 1872, to Elkanah and Louise Craycroft. He graduated from the University of Kentucky and then, following in the tradition of men in his family, enrolled in the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. On graduation day in 1889, he received his degree in mining engineering and also became a CPA.
He spent the next four years working with his father on water works projects. After his father died, he lived in Boulder, Colo., Bisbee, Globe and Los Angeles. He also served in the Spanish-American War in 1898.
In 1904, Craycroft came to Tucson, working mostly in heating and power plant construction. He also was chief engineer for the J. Knox Corbett Co., and later went into business for himself. The 1925 Tucson City Directory lists his business, Frank Craycroft Plumbing and Heating, at 40 Toole Ave., downtown. He was also an important promoter of the El Conquistador Hotel, where El Con Mall is now.
Craycroft was married twice, first to Mary L. Norman, of Texas, who died in 1917, and again in 1925 to Edna E. Huckabee (some sources site her last name as Greene). He had three children.
In 1925, he built a house in the desert, just off a dirt road that was then called Kenyon. A Tucson Citizen article in May of that year described the house as "of Spanish architecture and is built in the shape of an 'H.' " The article said it "contains nine rooms and three baths . . . two large sleeping porches, and a porch built on the roof, which is gained by means of a spiral stairway."
The house, at 5524 E. Fourth St., off Craycroft Road, has been remodeled and changed hands several times. In the 1990s, it was the headquarters of the Tucson chapter of the American Cancer Society. It is now a private business.
Roughly 15 years after the house was built, Kenyon Road was renamed Craycroft Road.
Frank Craycroft died suddenly on May 10, 1929, at his home. He was 56 years old.
Each week the Star will tell the stories behind Tucson street names. If you have streets to suggest or stories to share, contact writer David Leighton at email@example.com.
Sources: Thanks to reader Carl Hendley for suggesting this street. Special thanks to Alexa N. Tulk of the Arizona Historical Society Richard E. Sloan, "History of Arizona," Record Publishing Company, 1930 William G. Clemens, "Craycroft building is both central and historic," Tucson Citizen, Dec. 1995 "Craycroft Brings Home Bride To Grace Palatial Residence Now Going Up On Speedway," Tucson Citizen, May 1925 "Frank Craycroft Claimed By Death," Arizona Daily Star, May 1929 Tucson City Directory, 1925