A veterinarian’s vision
In 1891, Dr. Alexander John Chandler, the first veterinary surgeon for the territory of Arizona, bought 80 acres of land from the federal government south of Mesa. Dr. Chandler studied the relatively new science of irrigation engineering and was instrumental in building an early system of canals.
By the turn of the century, Dr. Chandler owned an 18,000 acre ranch. With the help of planners and architects, Dr. Chandler subdivided his ranch and drew up a town site map. Dr. Chandler’s national advertising campaign for the sale of Chandler Ranch sites brought excursion trains filled with 300 speculators. They arrived on the newly completed Arizona Eastern Railroad and spent $50,000 for land that day.
At the time, Chandler consisted of three wooden shacks – the town site office, a dining hall and the Morrison Grocery. A billboard marked the site of the elegant future Hotel San Marcos. Dr. Chandler’s ambitious plan was a landscaped central park surrounded by businesses. Walkways in front of the buildings would be covered by a trellis-like roof, supported by colonnades.
Deed restrictions required land owners to build on their land within one year. And in that one year after the first land sale, Chandler had begun to look like an established town. Businesses had been built along the west and south side of the park, including the Bank of Chandler and the Eastern Railroad depot.