By: Virginia Volkman
For: Red Rock News
Date: October 2, 2015
The Riordan Family’s Contribution to Arizona
We invite you to join Kathy Farretta, a speaker for Arizona Humanities,
for “Community Builders: The Riordan Families of Flagstaff, 1884-1904” on
Wednesday, October 7, at 1:30 p.m. at Sedona Winds, 405 Jacks Canyon
Road. During this presentation, Farretta will share the history
of the Riordan family. The program, generously funded by Arizona Humanities
and the Friends of the Sedona Library, is free and open to the public.
The Riordan connection to what was then the Arizona Territory, started
in the 1880s when Matt Riordan and his half-brothers Michael and Timothy
settled in the Flagstaff area. They started out in the lumber business,
and were also involved in railroads, cattle, banking, and politics.
As business leaders and the largest employers in Flagstaff, they supported
its business and economic development. In a new and growing frontier environment,
this meant securing government services, attracting industry to diversify
the economy, and making technological improvements for the community. They
established medical care, churches, schools, and the infrastructure needed
for a healthy community.
The Riordan brothers were especially interested in the cultivation of science
and helped establish some of the most important institutions in the community:
Northern Arizona University, Lowell Observatory, and the Fort Valley Experimental
In 1904 Michael and Timothy built almost identical, connected homes, known
as Riordan Mansion. The property is now the Riordan Mansion State Park.
It is an impressive reminder of gracious living in a small, territorial
The historic building is a remarkable example of Arts and Crafts style
architecture featuring a rustic exterior of log-slab siding, volcanic stone
arches, and hand-split wooden shingles. The expansive home has forty rooms,
over 13,000 square-feet of living area, and servants’ quarters. The
Riordan residence was designed by the creator of Grand Canyon's El Tovar
Hotel, Charles Whittlesey.
Guided tours of the Mansion are given daily. Visitors are led through the
pristine historic home, which is filled with original artifacts, handcrafted
furniture, and personal mementos of the Riordan families. The impressive
home contains an exceptional collection of Craftsman furnishings, with appointments
by Edison, Stickley, Ellis, and Steinway. Displays about the family, the
Arts and Crafts movement, and other local interests are also included as
part of the tour.
Sedona also benefited from the community-building legacy of the Riordan
family. Sedona resident Mary Malmgren is the granddaughter of Tim and Caroline
Riordan. Though her parents moved to Los Angeles soon after her birth, she
spent many summers visiting her family in Flagstaff. Eventually she settled
in Sedona with her husband, Jack Malmgren.
Soon after their arrival, the Malmgrens became involved in building some
of Sedona’s landmarks. Mary volunteered at the Sedona Arts Center
and helped form the Sedona Heritage Museum. She also helped form
the Muses, an organization that supports and promotes the Museum of Northern
Arizona. Jack was involved with establishing Posse Grounds Park, and the
Jack Malmgren Memorial Skate Park is named in his honor.
It takes dedicated and inspired people to build a community. Northern Arizona
is a better place because of the many organizations that the Riordan family
founded and supported.
Sedona Public Library is a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit corporation. Donations and grants allow us to continue
to offer free and innovative services to residents and visitors. Your tax-deductible
donation is appreciated and may be sent to: Sedona Public Library,
3250 White Bear Road, Sedona, AZ 86336.
Sedona Public Library is located at 3250 White Bear Road in West
Sedona. Library hours are Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Public Library in the Village is located at Bell Rock Plaza, Suite
51 A. Library hours in the Village are Tuesday through Friday
from 1 to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
You may call the main Library at 928.282.7714 and SPL-V at
928.284.1603 for more information about exhibits and services
that we offer.
Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News and is
also presented on Sedona
Virginia Volkman is Library Director of the Sedona Public