Second Owl’s Club, 378 Main Ave

As many the original Owl’s married after their bachelor days, the remaining bachelors, Merrill P. Freeman, Herbert B. Tenney, and Leo Goldschmidt contracted with Henry Trost to design a second building to serve their needs. They occupied this incarnation of Owl’s Club in 1902, only a couple years after the first club’s completion.

Merrill Freeman was the president of the Consolidated National Bank and served on the University of Arizona Board of Regents. He enjoyed studying early Arizona history dating back to the earliest Spanish explorers. Henry Trost designed the first Consolidated National Bank building at S Stone Ave and E Congress St in 1901, which was replaced 25 years later by the current brick-faced Chase Bank building. Below is a rare Blue Seal National Bank Note printed by the Consolidated National Bank in 1902.

Herbert Tenney was primarily a banker and engaged in political roles. He arrived in Tucson with his widowed mother Mattie who later married William C. Davis. Davis joined with Tenney on several ventures, starting with his stove and hardware store on Main Ave and Congress St. Davis served on the Board of Supervisors and local school boards.

Leo Goldschmidt owned a furniture store and later bought out the interests of the Eagle Milling Company and grew the business to one of the largest suppliers of flour, feed and grains in Arizona. Henry Trost designed the Lio Goldschmidt Warehouse beside the railroad tracks. Leo went on to partner in the construction of Hotel Congress and the Rialto Theater in his ‘retirement'.

In 1909 Tenney died of a heart attack. Freeman and Goldschmidt bought out his interest in the Owl’s Club. Freemans’ health deteriorated and with his sadness on the loss of his friend Tenney, he sold his interest to Goldschmidt. The Owl’s had come to an end. Leo invited his brother Albert and Albert's wife and children and his sister Eva to live with him in the large house. He remained there until his death in 1944. The two decades of Owls’ existence saw the the transition for a dusty frontier town to a prosperous 20th century city.

Trost’s new nest mansion included a façade decorated with interlaced medieval forms over a second story balcony. This may be the ultimate expansion of Trost’s use of ornamentation in his Tucson portfolio. Residing in the center is a round niche containing the club’s signature sculpture of an owl. The building interior structure on the bottom floor included a large reception hall, living room, dining room, and library. The second floor was devoted to four bedrooms each with a private bath. The house provided a reputation for “an elegance that rivaled that of some the nation’s most exclusive clubs”.

In the 1960’s the Loyal Order of the Moose bought the building and stripped it of the ornamental plaster, canals and balconies. They plastered over the windows and archways. After the then closed-up hall was abandoned, it sat as a ‘haunted house’ behind a chain-link fence.

In 1985, the building having been reduced to a empty shell, was purchased by the Collier-Craft Development Company. They began the long process of restoring the building to it original grandeur. Robb Boucher of Bisbee was hired to restore the decorative exterior. It was an ambitious project. Fortunately, Boucher did the necessary research to determine the original details of the design including trips to El Paso where much of Trost’s archives reside.

After passing through several owners, the Center for Biological Diversity bought the building in 2014 for their offices. They continue to be defenders of owls.