The property was originally part of 640 acres owned by a group of investors who had visions of selling home sites. They named the area “Arcadia”, founded the Arcadia Water Company and began drilling wells. In 1919 a small house was built for the workman in charge of the project. It was the first house in Arcadia. A small portion at the far east end of the present house is presumed to have been a part of that original structure. In the 1920s the investors went broke from such factors as the expense of drilling the wells, the depression and most importantly people were not interested in buying home sites so far from town.
A banker from Kansas City in 1925 acquired the acreage, part of which contained the small house. He added a kitchen, living room and two of the bedrooms. He named this show place “Casa de Wanda”. Two of the original pillars marking the property can still be seen on Exeter Drive. Citrus was also planted in 1926 and 1927. The property was divided into 40-acre home sites.
In 1927 the 40 acres containing the house was sold to the Suhr family from Oil City, Pennsylvania, who were purchasing it for a winter home. Another building project was begun to enlarge the garage (now the studio), add two more bedrooms and a bathroom, enclose the porch, enlarge the kitchen and stucco the outside to hide the many additions. This resulted in the house as you see it today. The Suhr family spent many wonderful winters in the house and were joined by other family members from California. Several have supplied us with historic photographs and many great memories of their times in the Phoenix home.
Finally, in 1984, the house was put on the market once again. Martha Shemer, a longtime Phoenix resident, looked at the house in July of ’84 and was so struck by the nostalgia of the house and the picturesque view of Camelback Mountain that she contacted Mayor Terry Goddard’s office and asked if she purchased the property would the City operate and maintain the facility. After due deliberations the City Council accepted the generous offer and at great expense to herself, with no tax advantages, Martha Shemer made the property available – at no cost – to the City of Phoenix.
In October 1984 Shemer Art Center was born. Mrs. Shemer had two dreams: one to preserve a bit of Phoenix history and another to provide to the citizens of Phoenix an art education facility.
In 1985 SACAMA (Shemer Art Center and Museum Association) was formed to provide support and input into the operation of the art center.
But, in 2010, the Shemer Art Center faced the threat of closing when the City of Phoenix announced it could no longer manage the day-to-day operations. The non-profit 501C-3 Association (SACAMA) took on the challenge of not only maintaining the Shemer, but growing it into a viable art center that provides the community with a unique and inviting atmosphere to enjoy and learn about visual art through exhibitions classes, and programs.
The Shemer Art Center is a “home for the arts” that nurtures creativity and imagination through art.
We are extremely proud to have been chosen as one of the Points of Pride for the City of Phoenix. The Phoenix Pride Commission asked Phoenix residents to name places that make Phoenix unique. Over 10,000 postcards, listing approximately 150 locations, were received during the initial campaign. From the 40 sites receiving the most votes, the final 21 Points of Pride were selected by another public vote.
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Recommended by 90% of couples
Sarah Small · Married on 11/24/2018
The perfect fit
When we were searching for a venue we didn’t want something that felt cookie cutter. No ballrooms or golf courses. When we found Shemer, a space where we could bring in whatever we wanted AND it was all outdoors, we knew it was the perfect fit. It was difficult getting ahold of them throughout the process a few times but overall it was a great experience and the best venue we could have selected! If you’re looking for something outdoors, where you can bring all your own vendors in then this is the place for you.Sent on 01/22/2019
User3718406 · 2+ years ago
The Shermer was very accommodating.Sent on 06/03/2014