Hot! Inside the Wedding Cake

It’s hard to miss Tovrea Castle. The wedding cake shaped building sits on a hill beside a main highway and just miles away from Sky Harbor airport. Even if you’re just passing through Phoenix, chances are you will get a glimpse of it and wonder what the story behind it is.

While the story is well known in Phoenix circles, getting a glimpse of the inside is rare. Yesterday, thanks to the Arizona AIA (architects association), the doors opened for a members tour and my friend Robert and I got our first look inside this iconic building.

The castle was first designed in 1928 to be a hotel and resort called Carraro Heights after owner Alessio Carraro. But in the ways of the west, he abandoned the plan when livestock farms nearby made it an unpleasant get away. He sold the property to Edward Tovrea, owner of the nearby meat packing plant. Tovrea’s wife Della lived in the castle during the winter, but left after she was robbed and shot in the late 60s. Since then, it has fallen into disrepair.

The land and building are now owned by the City of Phoenix, and volunteers, the city and private donors have been working to renovate the grounds to open the building to the public. But it’s a slow process that’s been bogged down by budget problems. The city still needs $15 million to finish repairs.

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