This article first appeared in the summer of 2015
When the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum reopens to the public this fall, it will do so with a new and unique designation: The only building in the Sun Cities now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Museum officials were notified last spring that after several years of applying for the designation, the museum was finally granted historic status.
The museum, located at 10801 W. Oakmont Drive in Sun City, is home to the Sun Cities Area Historical Society. The organization was created in 1985 with a mission to preserve and present the history of Sun City and Sun City West. The museum is located in one of the first five model homes built by the Del E. Webb Corporation in 1960 as it prepared to launch Sun City, the nation’s very first master-planned, active-adult retirement community. The community opened to the public on Jan. 1, 1960. The five model homes, along with Oakmont Recreation Center and a golf course were open to the public on that first weekend.
The home has been restored and features rotating exhibits focusing on the history of the community, as well as its developer – Del E. Webb – and the clubs and organizations in the retirement communities. “We’re extremely proud of our museum and think it’s a fitting honor to be recognized as one of our nation’s historic landmarks,” said Bret McKeand, president of the museum’s board of trustees. The National Register of Historic Places is the “official list of the nation’s historic places worthy of preservation.” The list is overseen by the National Park Service. Presently there are over 80,000 places on the list. Locations on the list in Arizona include the Wrigley Mansion, Hunt’s Tomb, Petrified Forest and Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The Del Webb Sun Cities Museum becomes the first property in either Sun City or Sun City West to earn the designation.
The museum is closed during the summer and is expected to reopen Wednesday, Sept. 16. Museum hours are 1-4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. When the museum opens this fall, exhibits include a celebration of the performing arts in the Sun Cities, a display honoring Del E. Webb, and a new tribute to the Sundome Center for Performing Arts.
The museum is a nonprofit organization and relies on memberships for its funding. Call 623-974-2568 or visit delwebbsuncitiesmuseum.org for information on supporting the organization.