Best Downtown Building to Poke Your Head Into Phoenix 2008 - Children's Museum of Phoenix
Bravo to the Children's Museum of Phoenix, which has made its new home in downtown's historic Monroe School. Rather than plow down this imposing old Classic Revival-style, three-story brick building — which was designed by Los Angeles architect Norman Marsh and built in 1913 at Seventh Street and Van Buren — smart-thinkers re-purposed it in a way that will serve kids, just as it originally did decades earlier.
Although the interior of the museum has been modified to accommodate numerous kid-friendly exhibits, many of its most handsome original elements remain. The gorgeous oak floors are the same ones laid down in 1913, and they're in great shape, thanks to a restoration funded by a State Heritage grant. The giant north and south stairwells feature their original banisters, and the wooden beams in every room have been walnut-shell-blasted back to their original finish. And the building's skeleton of exposed brick, stacked high nearly a hundred years ago, also remains, giving its interior a warm, old-timey feel that makes us want to go back just to look around — at this cool old building, as well as all the fun, educational exhibits.