Last Updated on April 23, 2021 by Kim Labriola
Do you love the warmth of burnt adobe? Do you prefer the natural character of stained wood? Are you in love with anything vintage or mid-century? Are you looking for a house that feels at home in Tucson? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’d probably appreciate a home designed and built by Tom Gist.
Who is Tom Gist?
Tom Gist was a builder who worked in the Tucson area in the post war years up until 1978. He was born and raised in the Chicago area and he initially worked for his father who was a home builder there. After relocating to Tucson, Gist worked for other builders until going out on his own. In addition to building homes of his own design, he also built homes for other Tucson architects including Art Brown and Josias Joesler.
Gist built around 170 homes in the Tucson area over his 30+ year career. After retirement in 1978, Gist and his wife Tish hiked extensively in Saguaro National Park East (then known as Saguaro National Monument) and helped map out the area’s hiking trails. Tom Gist died in 2000.
Typical characteristics of Gist homes
Gist built elongated ranch style homes typically of burnt adobe. Often the burnt adobe blocks were left in their natural, un-painted state in both the exterior and interior of the home. He used a lot of custom Philippine mahogany woodwork for doors, paneling, and cabinetry.
The long exteriors of the homes usually featured ribbon windows on the street side, while the walls on the back side of the home often had large plate glass windows encased in the burnt adobe without extra window framing, and usually featured a mountain view. The sill of the windows were typically made of adobe blocks laid on their side or a concrete wall cap. The short walls of the homes, usually located on the east and west of the home to minimize heat gain, featured a gable end clerestory window with a translucent fiber glass type material. Some of his homes featured decorative fascia and eaves. Most of his homes originally had carports and a few later homes had garages.
Where are Gist homes located?
Early Gist homes were located in Broadmoor-Broadway Village neighborhood. He developed much of Leonora Annex near Broadway and Craycroft. Some of the other neighborhoods with custom Gist homes are in Tucson Country Club Estates, Harold Bell Wright Estates, Wilshire Heights, and Mitman. He also built many custom homes in the Catalina Foothills area, around Tucson’s far east side, near the Tucson Mountains, and a couple in the town of Sonoita.