A Brief History
Litchfield Park, Arizona, is a small residential community in Maricopa County, only 2 miles north of I-10 and 16 miles west of central Phoenix, the historic center of the Southwest Valley. It is a unique city, envisioned to provide both aesthetic and commercial amenities. The magnificent palm and orange trees that were integrated into the urban design years ago, along with the mature landscaping, now serve to showcase miles of pathways, beautiful homes, charming sidewalk cafes, the celebrated Wigwam Resort and an award-winning school. The casual, yet invigorating, public spaces promote a sense of well-being and genuine community for its 5,476 residents.
To know something of the area’s past reveals the challenges that emerged early on when the forces of history and nature combined to create this distinctive city. The area was originally settled hundreds of years ago. But the first land claims were filed in 1910, by the Kriegbaums from California, 640 acres which included the land that is now the city’s downtown area. The initial plan of these settlers was to develop the area west of the Agua Fria River into citrus groves. But history made its claim, too, in the form of World War I. In 1916, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company sent executive Paul W. Litchfield to purchase as much land as he could—ultimately 16,000 acres—that encompassed the land claims of the early settlers. The company needed the land to grow Egyptian long staple cotton to reinforce their automobile and truck tires, being used in the war effort.
Paul Litchfield came to love this area and made Litchfield Ranch into the headquarters for the Southwest Cotton Company (later Goodyear Farms). Thousands of acres were cultivated and hundreds of men and women put to work. In the 1920s, Paul and Florence Litchfield built their beautiful winter estate, Rancho La Loma, on the hill overlooking the town site. The company town was officially named Litchfield Park in 1926. The Wigwam Resort, originally called “Organization House,” was built as simple guest quarters for visiting Goodyear Tire executives from Akron, Ohio, and then expanded into a public resort in November 1929. Paul Litchfield was instrumental in the establishment of Luke Field just north of the community, and Litchfield Park grew extensively during and after World War II, with many of its veterans calling it home. Luke Air Force Base is yet again poised to make history with its new F-35 squadrons coming on line.
In 1987, Litchfield Park was incorporated as a city, 3.3 square miles in size. It recently celebrated its 25th Anniversary and continues to flourish. The Litchfield/Denny family estate gifted Rancho La Loma Homestead to the city in 2009. Plans are being made to restore the site and buildings, with the goal of someday making the property available for public use. If it is true that our past defines us, then Litchfield Park will continue to give us a sense of place that inspires us and serves us well.
For additional information, please contact Litchfield Park Historical Society, at 623-535-4414, or visit their website.