What a find is the Lost Barrio

by Lorin Michel Saturday, December 21, 2013 11:59 PM

We had a list of things to do today when we left the house including visit Bookman’s on Grant, an eclectic shop of used and new books, musical instruments and vinyl. From 1 – 4 today the Amazing Aussies of Arizona Rescue group, that rescues Lethal White Australian Shepherds, dogs that have been improperly bred so that they’re deaf or blind or both, was going to be there and sponsor the Christmas wrapping table. I’ve long supported them; my sister does as well. Today is Khris’ birthday and I knew she would love a video or two of the dogs. Mission accomplished.

We also wanted to go to an import place called Colonial Frontiers that has doors and ancient water urns and furniture. We were going to hit another antique place east of us on our way out to check on the dirt and the progress made this week in grading and the placement of footings.

It was cold and threatening rain when we got on the motorcycle, once again decked out in our leathers to guard against the wind and descending temperature. If we’d been on a freeway it would have been miserable, but we weren’t so it was merely chilly. We found Colonial Frontiers, and our day came to a screeching halt.

We found ourselves in the Lost Barrio, in the warehouse district of Tucson, just before you get into downtown. We had no idea the store was located there, not that it would have mattered. Until today, we didn’t really know much about the Lost Barrio. We had heard it mentioned; the name alone sounded intriguing. But we hadn’t actively sought it out. A barrio, officially, is a neighborhood where the predominant language is Spanish. The Urban Dictionary says that it’s the Spanish term for the “hood, or ghetto. This certainly didn’t seem to be in the ghetto, whatever that means.

We turned south on Park, off of Broadway. Downtown was straight ahead, its glass buildings stoic under the clouds. There wasn’t much traffic. Graduation from the University had happened earlier and the school was cleared out for Christmas break. We parked in one of the many spaces out front, climbed off the beast and made our way into the store we’d traveled to see. We walked in and both of looked at each other: we’re going to be here a while. It was essentially a warehouse filled with teak doors and furniture and pottery, all from the late 1800s, early 1900s. Some of it was from the Far East, some from England, some from Mexico. We found doors that we like, as well as an art deco table that attaches to a wall, perhaps perfect for the new powder room. I fell in love with an enormous water urn from Mexico, circa 1900. Its hand made, at least four feet tall, red brick clay with bits of mosaic tile. I want it for the entry way. We’ll see.

Then we went next door to a place called Petroglyphs and we both looked at each other: we’re never leaving this place. It was all eclectic art, furniture and accent pieces. They had wind chimes made from motorcycle exhaust pipes; others made from pieces of steel oxygen tanks. We found hand-silkscreened lamp shades for our two stone lamps and bought them. Because we were on the motorcycle I had to go back later to get them, but it was OK. They were just what we needed to replace what we had and make our lamps look like new.

They had furniture made of wood, stone and iron, all melded together; sculptures, paintings, tiles. Sadly, we left and moved next door to Southwest Furniture and Design. We looked at each other: we’re going to end up spending a bunch here.

The furniture was all hand made and while we’re not really in the market for furniture, we are in the market for doors. Interior doors, an entry way door and a wine room door. They hand make all of their doors, from alder or mesquite wood. They do kitchen cabinets. We talked to the owner, a lovely woman named Ana. Her brother is her sole vendor. He makes all of the doors. We’re going to meet with them after the first of the year to see about them making some, if not all, of our doors. To be able to do that locally would be amazing.

We support local businesses and these businesses in the Lost Barrio are quite the find. From furniture to doors to art, they have just about all of the accents we need for the house. Off of a small side street, in the middle of a ‘hood, on the way to the city. We fell in love all over again with everything this wonderful new town of ours has to offer. Art, ideas, craftsmanship. It’s truly extraordinary and serves to reinforce the reason we moved here. It’s about the atmosphere, the mood; the creativity. The Lost Barrio typifies the city. What a find indeed. 

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