Arizona’s oldest predominantly Black community listed on National Register of Historic Places

Apr 24, 2024, 11:00 AM

PHOENIX — The oldest historically Black community in Arizona was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Randolph Townsite Historic District located 50 miles southeast of Phoenix was listed as a traditional cultural place, Arizona State Parks and Trails announced Wednesday.

“The traditional cultural place designation establishes the Randolph Townsite Historic District as a ‘one-of-a-kind’ in Arizona,” State Historic Preservation Officer Kathryn Leonard said in a press release.

“Its significance is tied less to the buildings in the district than it is to the people who lived there.”

Sites that are listed on the National Register are properties considered worthy of preservation.

History & culture: Here’s why the Randolph Townsite qualified for the listing

The city was established in 1925 and named after Southern Pacific Railroad’s then Vice President Epes Randolph.

As it has evolved over the last 100 years, the city still retains its unique heritage while remaining the oldest historically Black community in the state associated with the Great Migration of the early to mid-20th century.

By the end of the 1930s, Randolph had a thriving multicultural community comprised of African, Native and Mexican American residents.

Many families from the area started moving to metro Phoenix in the 1960s-1980s; however, members regularly return to Randolph for the holidays, family gatherings and funerals.

More on Randolph, the community and Pinal County

Ron Jordan, a resident of the city, commented that the recognition carries weight, signaling a shift from feeling unseen for years.

“For as long as I can remember living in Randolph as a child to the present day, all we ever done was follow the rules of life, but we were always in second place, neglected, overlooked, environmentally abused and basically shunned,” Jordan said.

“Until now, as a new sun has risen, and a new and improved light has begun to shine upon us, and the past is surfacing and being recorded for decades to see.”

The listing was sponsored by Salt River Project.

“SRP is proud to have supported the Randolph community in achieving this National Register listing that recognizes Randolph’s significance to the history of our state,” Dan Garcia, SRP senior cultural resources management specialist, said in the release.

The unincorporated town is located within Pinal County, which has over 100 sites listed on the national registry.

Other notable sites include Stage Station and Homestead, the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Silver King Hotel and the Sacaton Elementary School.

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Arizona’s oldest predominantly Black community listed on National Register of Historic Places