The Tovrea Family

Ask most passersby, and they’ll tell you they don’t know the name of the odd shaped structure known as Tovrea Castle.  Though much has been written about the castle over the years, the structure and the family behind the name remains a mystery to most.  Who were the Tovreas?  The story begins with a young man named Edward Ambrose (“E.A.”) Tovrea.  Born in Illinois in 1861, E.A. moved to Kansas at the age of 10 where he worked on a cattle ranch and learned skills that in time would lead him to build a prosperous empire.  A true pioneer, at the age of 19, he moved west and started a freight company transporting goods between Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.  He eventually settled in Arizona where he built and owned butcher shops throughout the state.  His final stop was in Phoenix in 1919 where he founded the Arizona Packing Company, later known as the Tovrea Packing Company, located just east of Phoenix in the area that is now around Washington and 48th Street.

E.A.’s business ventures were eventually passed on to his son, Phil, and the Tovrea empire continued to thrive. E.A. and Phil were respected business men, and well known for being men of their word, with handshakes being their bond. History reflects that the employees of the Tovrea workforce were extremely loyal and the Tovrea business enjoyed low employee turnover – a sign of a healthy and positive working environment. The company prospered for 50 years and during the 1940s was considered one of the most modern and well-run meat processing and packing plants in the world.

Now, one may ask, how did the castle come to be known as Tovrea Castle?  In 1931, E.A. and his second wife, Della, purchased the castle from Alessio Carraro.  Sadly, E.A. passed away within a year.  Della Tovrea resided in the castle until her death in 1969.

The castle was purchased from the Tovrea estate by the City of Phoenix in 1993 with monies raised though a series of bond elections approved overwhelmingly by the Citizens of Phoenix.