In 1891, Dr. Alexander John Chandler, the first veterinary surgeon for the territory of Arizona, bought 80 acres of land from the federal government south of Mesa. Dr. Chandler studied the relatively new science of irrigation engineering and was instrumental in building an early system of canals.
By the turn of the century, Dr. Chandler owned an 18,000 acre ranch. With the help of planners and architects, Dr. Chandler subdivided his ranch and drew up a town site map. Dr. Chandler’s national advertising campaign for the sale of Chandler Ranch sites brought excursion trains filled with 300 speculators. They arrived on the newly completed Arizona Eastern Railroad and spent $50,000 for land that day.
At the time, Chandler consisted of three wooden shacks – the town site office, a dining hall and the Morrison Grocery. A billboard marked the site of the elegant future Hotel San Marcos. Dr. Chandler’s ambitious plan was a landscaped central park surrounded by businesses. Walkways in front of the buildings would be covered by a trellis-like roof, supported by colonnades.
Deed restrictions required land owners to build on their land within one year. And in that one year after the first land sale, Chandler had begun to look like an established town. Businesses had been built along the west and south side of the park, including the Bank of Chandler and the Eastern Railroad depot.
Dr. A.J. Chandler was the Arizona Territory’s first veterinary surgeon. Entrepreneurial in spirit, he was a man with a vision. His ambitious plan transformed Chandler from a 3-building town to a beautiful landscaped central park surrounded by businesses. Walkways in front of the buildings were covered by trellis-like roofs, supported by colonnades.
All this was made possible, in part because Dr. Chandler studied the relatively new science of irrigation engineering. He was instrumental in building an early system of canals.
For many years, Chandler and the man who founded it thrived. The Great Depression was not a devastating experience for most of Chandler’s residents.
The cotton crash of 1920 had a far greater impact on the agriculturally based economy. Dr. Chandler, however, did not fare so well during the depression years. The Bank of Chandler collapsed and he lost the San Marcos to his creditors. Able to retire comfortably, though, he lived in a cottage on the hotel grounds.
Explore Chandler Arizona’s history dating back to 1891 when Dr. Alexander John Chandler bought 80 acres of land from the federal government south of Mesa.