Arvizu's El Fresnal Grocery Store

The old Phoenix warehouse district is roughly between Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street, and between Madison Street south to Grant. There are numerous old warehouse buildings in this area, but one of the oldest and most interesting is Arvizu's El Fresnal Grocery Store.

This building was constructed in 1900 -- 12 years before Arizona became a state. It was the earliest Hispanic-owned store in Phoenix, and was run by Trinidad Arvizu from 1900 until to 1920. The store ceased operations in 1924 (when the number of grocery stores had increased by nearly tenfold.)

Today, Arvizu's El Fresnal Grocery Store sits empty; its worn red bricks still bears the worn paint advertising the long-closed grocer. At the rear of the building, there's even more hidden history embedded in the bricks -- specifically, remnants of a "Mexican Masonic Temple."

Apparently, the store doubled as a fraternal meeting place. On the back of the building, high up in the bricks, you can see the Masonic "G" symbol, along with an upside-down, five-pointed silver star (commonly referred to as a "pentagram," but more than likely symbolizing the Eastern Star here). There's also a faded circle painted above the rear archway, which looks like it could have been a sun with rays at one time.

There's not much to see inside the store anymore. A peek through the windows reveals a couple of empty, open rooms with ratty blue carpet on the floors. There are a couple metal dining chairs in the front room, but no evidence that this place used to be one of the premier grocers in downtown Phoenix.

The property was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, which why the building hasn't been razed, but the future of the old Arvizu's El Fresnal Grocery Store is still uncertain. The building's privately owned, and there are no signs of restoration yet.

If you want to check out it, it's easy enough to find. Arvizu's El Fresnal Grocery Store is located at 310 E. Buchanan Street, around the corner from Coach & Willie's, and right across the street from the fisheries building.

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea