O’Connor House

Project Began:
Project Completion:
Project Status:
$3.2 million


Rio Salado Foundation led the fundraising efforts and managed the relocation of the 1957 adobe house through a $3.2 million capital campaign effectively saving the house from certain demolition. The project was designed to celebrate, honor and sustain the vision of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor by preserving the home that embodies her leadership and public service in Arizona and the United States.

O’Connor House provides a unique setting for dialogue and consensus building on local, national and world issues. In addition, educational programming is offered that explores matters of importance to our community.

Project Components:

  • The original O’Connor House was saved from demolition by a group of community leaders, led by former Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman who with the City of Tempe identified the site in Papago Park where the House has been restored and relocated, adjacent to the Arizona Historical Society Museum.
  • The home was donated to Rio Salado Foundation.  Janie Ellis, a local artist whose father George Ellis made the original bricks for the home from the mud of the Salt River in the 1950’s, was the onsite project manager.
  • A team of volunteers, coordinated by Janie Ellis, Sundt Construction and several adobe brick experts, moved the house brick by brick. The unique shape of the roof was a challenge to reconstruct. The home remains a beautiful mid-century design with triangular spaces.

Major Donors ($100,000 and up):

  • The Honorable Barbara and Dr. Craig Barrett, DMB Associates, Stardust Foundation, Jerry Bisgrove, Sundt Construction, Thunderbird Charities, and The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust
  • O’Connor House is an Arizona 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to continue the legacy of retired United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in solving important social, economic and political problems through civil talk leading to civic action. For more information, please visit www.oconnorinstitute.org.