PHOENIX — You have likely seen Tovrea Castle out the car window while traveling along the Loop 202 Red Mountain Freeway either to or from downtown Phoenix.
It’s the yellow, four-tiered building atop of a hill in the middle of the desert and, to some, resembles that of a wedding cake or a castle. At night, hundreds of lights illuminate each tier of the building.
Perhaps you’ve wondered what it was? Does someone live there? Are people allowed inside?
Here is the much-abridged history: In the early 1900s, Alessio Carraro, an Italian gold miner and land developer had a dream to build a resort community and neighborhood, called Carraro Heights, near Phoenix with a hotel as its centerpiece. However, due to some buildings and land being sold, the financial impacts of the Great Depression, and, at the time, being very close to the Tovrea Stockyards, which raised and processed cattle, those dreams were never realized
The hotel was built and is the structure that remains.
In the 1930s, Edward Ambrose “E.A.” Tovrea, who founded the Tovrea Stockyards, bought the hotel and 44 acres of land from Carraro. Tovrea died a year later, and his wife lived at the castle until her death in 1969, according to Tovrea Castle’s website.
So, it was slated to be a hotel and at one point became someone’s home.
The City of Phoenix bought the building in 1993. In 2011, the Tovrea Carraro Society was formed and given permission to support, manage, and give tours, which supports the upkeep of the building.
Though, getting a tour could be a challenge. They’re popular and sell-out quickly, often months in advance. The grounds are only open for private tours.
HOW TO BOOK A TOUR
Beginning with its spring 2021 tours, the Tovrea Carraro Society announced that tours would be booked via a lottery system.
“Due to an overwhelming demand, …Tovrea Castle Society has determined that a lottery ticket system is the only fair mechanism for distribution of tickets to our guests,” the Society said in an email to its subscribers, as well as a note on its website.
The lottery opens Dec. 7-13, 2020, for tours between February and May 2021.
To enter, visit tovreacastletours.com/castle-tours. You will then select three days you’re interested in, as well as how many tickets you would need (1-4 tickets allowed). Tickets are $22 per person. Children two and younger are free but must be accompanied by an adult, according to the website.
Between January and March, tours are offered Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. In April and May, tours are offered at 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., the website said.
If selected, lottery winners will receive an email 72 hours or so after the lottery ends with a date and time of the tour. Winners then have 72 hours to purchase their tickets.
Those who do not win the lottery will not receive an email. You have to be at least eighteen to enter.
Because of COVID-19, tours will be conducted in smaller groups, masks are required for everyone, and a liability waiver will have to be signed and submitted, according to the website.
During the tour, people will see some of the other original structures on the 44-acre property and what remains of the garden before going inside Tovrea Castle.
Visit tovreacastletours.com/castle-tours for more details and results.