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Ruth Woolf Jordan  (b. 1902, d. 1996)
Ruth Woolf Jordan Ruth and Walter Jordan Jordan Historical Park and the Sedona
Heritage Museum, Sedona
Ruth Woolf Jordan was a rural schoolteacher who married an orchardist, Walter Jordan, from Sedona. With Walter, she developed and ran a very successful farm from the 1930s to 1972. As she aged, she planned the sale of her land, farm buildings and home to the city of Sedona. They are now the Jordan Historical Park and the Sedona Heritage Museum.

Region: North Central Arizona
Theme: Women at Work, Women in Historic Preservation

Ruth Woolf was born in Kentucky in 1902. She moved with her family to Tempe in 1912 and attended Tempe Normal School as a young woman. She graduated in 1922 and then began teaching in rural Arizona. She taught at the one-room Beaver Creek School, between Sedona and Camp Verde, and rode her horse to work every day.

She met Walter Jordan while teaching at Beaver Creek, and they married in 1930. They began their married life in a one-room cabin. In 1937 they, along with Ruth's mother, added two bedrooms and an indoor bathroom. After World War II, when building materials were again available, Ruth made plans for another expansion of her home. It grew to about 3,000 square feet, with the façade featuring native red rock. Ruth, and Perry Jackson, the carpenter, designed every detail, including the scalloped trim designs, cooler cabinet, and specialized storage in the kitchen, along with niches and closets within the house walls just the right size for items such as fruit jars and her ironing board.

During the 1930s and early '40s, the couple expanded their property holdings and planted nearly 1,500 apple and peach trees, while raising three children. At the peak of their orchard business, during the 1950s and 1960s, they were the largest private employers in Sedona. Ruth worked on the farm and marketed the produce in Phoenix. She also taught school in Sedona and Red Rock, from time to time, when teachers were needed.

The Jordans sold their last commercial crop in 1973 and then began selling off their orchard land. As she aged, Ruth worried that her beloved home would be demolished for new construction. She worked with the City of Sedona and the Sedona Historical Society (SHS) to negotiate a deal whereby she would gift a portion of the property to the city and the city would purchase her home and the remainder of the approximate four acres of land, granting her a life estate and SHS access to operate a museum in the Jordan farm buildings. After her death in 1996, the city developed the Jordan land into a public park, and the SHS opened the Sedona Heritage Museum in 1998. The museum tells local history stories of cowboys, movie-making, orcharding, and local pioneers, including early women settlers, and their contributions to the community of Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon.

Ruth showed great foresight in working to preserve Sedona and Arizona history. Her historic home is an original environment that illustrates her involvement in the family orchard business. Due to its unchanged interior and exterior, it is like a preserved time capsule of folk-style architecture and the tastes and lifestyle of an Arizona family between the 1930s and the 1990s. Its three construction phases are obvious, telling a progressive story of Ruth's family from poor beginnings to relative affluence and community standing.

The historic Jordan buildings were the first in Sedona to be added to the National Register of Historic Places. There are four historic markers on the property. As a publicly owned site and because of the museum function, this historic site is open to the general public.

Visit the Jordan Historical Park and the Sedona Heritage Museum at 735 Jordan Road in Sedona. The museum is open daily except major holidays from 11 am - 3 pm. 2011 admission is $5/adults, children 12 and under free.

Photo Credits:
Photos courtesy of the Sedona Heritage Museum

 

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