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The Heard Museum, Dwight and Maie Heard, and the Suburban Realty Company of Phoenix

If you've lived in Phoenix since the 1930s, you've probably know about the Heard Museum, which is a Museum of Indian Art, and is on Central between Thomas and McDowell. You may have even gone there, and if you haven't, I recommend it, it's a great place. And it all started with a young couple named Dwight and Maie (Bartlett) Heard, and the Suburban Realty Company of 1897 in Phoenix.

Now waitaminute, before you jump to any conclusions about a dramatic story of Real Estate, and wild land deals, hang on. That never happened. It was simply a story of two people who got rich by selling Real Estate in Phoenix. And they did it the old-fashioned way, they earned it.

Now, to be fair, Dwight did have the advantage of the Bartlett family, who had a fair amount of money on their own, and invested it with him. He also had the advantage of his wife Maie, who did more than sit around the house looking pretty, she helped run the business.


I have to admit that the first time I saw the name of their company, the Suburban Realty Company, which began in 1897, I was surprised. I hadn't realized that the word Suburban was used that long ago. So the next time someone asks you how long Phoenix has been moving out to suburbia, just say, "over 100 years".

Maie and Dwight Heard having fun at a party in 1915 at their luxurious home "Casa Blanca", which was just south of where the Heard Museum is nowadays.

Dwight became hugely successful. He bought the local newspaper. He encouraged his friend former President Theodore Roosevelt to use some political pull to build a dam in 1911. He and Maie worked hard. And when they went on vacation, they collected art. Maie started showing it off to groups of people, and continued on for many years after Dwight died.

Theodore Roosevelt and Maie Bartlett Heard in Phoenix

The story of Phoenix is the story of people who have been "unrealistically optimistic". The dusty valley that Maie and Dwight saw, which flooded terribly every year, wasn't the sort of place that most people would have invested in. They did, believed in it, worked hard, and became successful.

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