Tucson’s Josias Joesler and That Joesler Blue

“Joesler Village” “That estate sale was in a Joesler house.” “Joesler blue” … These are some of the things you will hear if you live in Tucson. But what does it all mean?

Josias Joesler was born in 1895 in Zurich. His architectural legacy would eventually come to articulate the romantic revival Tucson style of the first half of the 20th century.

Josias and Natividad Joesler

He was educated in Germany and France, he lived in Spain, Cuba, Los Angeles. He married his wife Natividad and the two moved to Tucson in 1927.  Soon he became very busy designing commercial and residential buildings with his signature style.

Broadway Village

A very prolific architect, his buildings, commercial and residential, feature traditional southwestern hand crafted decorative motifs. Some of these include hand applied plaster, open brick work, hand hewn beams, colored concrete floors and decorative iron and tin work. Often the instant you walk into a Joesler house you will recognize it as such. If you walk in and instead of seeing a living room wall in front of you, you see a big plate glass window looking into the back yard, a good guess would be, “Joesler.” He embraced the idea of open spaces and being able to see out into nature.  And the accent color on many of the doors, woodwork around windows, etc. is in a beautiful soft blue.

His major surviving commercial architectural buildings are spread throughout Tucson. There are a few on Fourth Avenue.  A good example is the Broadway Village Shopping center on the corner of Country Club and Broadway. Other major commercial buildings include Saint Philips Church at Campbell and River Road, St. Michaels Episcopal Church at 5th and Wilmot, the Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch, and the original old Ghost Ranch Lodge on Miracle Mile.

Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch

Many of his residential buildings are in the Catalina Foothills Estates and in the Historic Blennman-Elm Neighborhood and there is a string of his homes on Country Club just south of Broadway.

And that “Joesler blue?” … some might call it cornflower blue, but since Josias Joesler used it as an accent on so many of his projects, if you live in Tucson you call it Joesler blue!

Carol Fenn