Tovrea Castle is one of the great landmarks of Phoenix. The three-tiered wedding cake-shaped home has intrigued generations of Phoenicians. The City of Phoenix now owns both Tovrea Castle and the surrounding Carraro Cactus Garden.
Italian immigrant Alessio Carraro and his 15-year old son, O. Leo, began building their unique castle in 1929. He intended it to be a centerpiece hotel for an upscale housing development to be called Carraro Heights.
Working with plans drawn only in the dirt with a stick, the three-tiered, elongated octagon wood frame covered with stucco slowly rose from the 227-acre cactus covered site. A multi-windowed cupola crowned Mr. Carraro’s castle giving he and his visitors a spectacular view of the Salt River Valley. Russian gardener, M. Moktatchev was hired by Mr. Carraro to create the Valley’s best cactus garden to surround his castle hotel.
In 1931 hard times fell upon Mr. Carraro and he had to sell his beloved castle. Cattleman E.A. Tovrea and his wife, Della, purchased the castle as their private residence. Mr. Tovrea operated a beef slaughter and packinghouse near their new castle home. They renamed their new home Tovrea Castle.
Mr. Tovrea and Della immediately constructed a stonewall to surround the 43 acres of their castle home and cactus garden. E. A. Tovrea would die in 1932 but Della lived in the castle until her death in 1969.
In 1970 the Tovrea Family Trust assumed control over the castle and the surrounding garden. For the next 30 years the castle remained largely unused and poorly maintained. Finally in 1993 the City of Phoenix purchased the historic Tovrea Castle and 7 1/2 acres of the cactus garden surrounding the home. In 2003, Phoenix purchased the additional 36 acres of land, finally taking control of all 43 acres of Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus Garden.
For more information about visiting the Carraro Cactus Garden and Tovrea Castle, visit the following web site: http://www.tovreacastletours.com/.
Tovrea Castle and Carraro Cactus Garden are located at 5041 East Van Buren, Phoenix, Arizona.