University of Arizona

Students, faculty, staff, and the public are now welcome to visit Special Collections without an appointment from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday.

Josias Joesler

Tucson Architect

Photo of Josias Joesler

This exhibit celebrates the eclectic vision and historical contributions of one of Tucson’s most celebrated architects and marks the ongoing efforts of the library to provide electronic access to thousands of Joesler’s architectural drawings and plans.

Joesler blended many contemporary and revival styles such as Spanish Colonial and Pueblo Revival as well as Swiss, Tudor, Greek, Italianate, Art Deco and Art Moderne. His buildings were marked by wrought ironwork, decorative glazed and unglazed tiles, ceiling beams, wall niches, stained concrete floors, hand-carved wooden doors and his signature “wind flags” which resembled weather vanes. Some of the notable structures he designed in Tucson are St. Philip’s In the Hills Episcopal Church, St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, and Broadway Village Shopping Center.

Swiss-born Joesler studied architecture in Bern, engineering in Heidelberg and drawing at the Sorbonne in Paris. After emigrating to the U.S. he initially lived in California but was persuaded to move to Arizona in 1927 by local developer and builder John Murphey. The developer saw Joesler’s virtuosity with a wide-ranging palate of styles and his technical expertise as the perfect fit for Murphey’s goal of promoting Tucson as resort destination for the elite. During 1928 alone, Murphey provided Joesler with 56 jobs, beginning a patron-architect relationship that would last more than 30 years.

The library’s exhibit and creation of a digital Joesler collection was made possible by a grant from The Southwestern Foundation for Education and Historical Preservation and was developed by the University Libraries in collaboration with the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Joesler’s collection of architectural drawings contains thousands of plans for both public and residential buildings, extant and destroyed. The aim of the digital collection is to help preserve and maintain access to Joesler’s increasingly fragile works which are viewed every year by faculty, students, architects, historians, homeowners and real estate offices. To date approximately 1,000 images from the 1920s through the 1950s have already been scanned. The Joesler exhibit was curated by Librarian Paula Wolfe with curatorial assistance from two UA students: Megan Maureen Wedel from the School of Architecture and Niamh Wallace from the School of Information Resources and Library Science.