Teatro Carmen

Convent and Meyer Avenue – Living Tucson History

Last Updated on August 23, 2021 by Kim Labriola

Convent and Meyer Avenue in Downtown Tucson

If you would like to live in one of Tucson’s oldest, most historic properties, a home on Convent and Meyer Avenue might be for you. These narrow avenues, just south of downtown Tucson, are full of colorful mud adobe buildings loaded with character. Most of these buildings are old, but some have built recently and designed with a similar aesthetic to blend with the original structures.

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A little history

The Convent and Meyer streetscapes were built beginning in the 1850s and continued until the early 1900s. Both avenues have had key properties that have been lovingly renovated. These avenues are significant because of the diversity of notable structures and a rich cross section of architecturally significant styles, including Sonoran (1850-1890) Transformed Sonoran (1863-1912), and Transitional/Territorial (1880-1900).

Convent and Meyer
Example of a corner commercial property in the barrio

The barrio was designed to be mixed use where residents lived within close proximity to local businesses since this was in an age before the automobile. Businesses included bakeries, grocers, butchers, and saloons. The business owner’s family may have lived in the back portion of the store. Commercial space was frequently noted by a chamfered entry wall, and usually were located on the corner unit.

An example of a well-preserved commercial building on Meyer is the Theatro Carmen which Founder Carmen Soto Vasquez opened on May 20, 1915. It was one of the first theaters in Tucson dedicated to Spanish dramatic theater.


Preservation became very important to barrio residents after large portions of the neighborhood were bulldozed in the 1960s for construction of I-10  and in the 1970s during a nationwide urban renewal effort which brought about the Tucson Convention Center. These two events prompted preservationists to list the area on the National Historic Registry before more of this important heritage was lost. Luckily we still have some excellent examples of barrio architecture that have been preserved.  In recent years, the area’s rich history has captured the imagination of many, including noteworthy celebrities.

Convent Ave
Home on Convent Avenue

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