The St. Luke’s in the Desert Story

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The St. Luke’s in the Desert Story

A Century of Community Service

(Cover Photo St. Luke’s in the Desert entrance. Arizona Historical Society, Western Ways collection file 138)

One of the goals of St. Luke’s 100th Anniversary Committee has been to produce a 100-year chronological history of St. Luke’s in the Desert as a way of documenting a century of service to the Tucson community.   A 50-year anniversary booklet by John Bret Harte was the last time a comprehensive telling of the St. Luke’s in the Desert story was done.

In producing this book, we have striven to provide the most accurate facts and recollections while realizing that there are significant gaps in the historical and official.  We have managed to uncover a plethora of accomplishments, events, chronologies, organizational structures and human-interest stories.

“During the last 100 years, a block of Tucson land at the northwest corner of Adams Street and First Avenue has borne witness to significant history and periodic changes in usage.  It has served as everything from a tuberculosis sanitarium to a home for senior women to a redeveloped sixty-four unit complex for elders; since 1918 St. Luke’s in the Desert has helped meet several critical humanitarian needs.”

Publication Team

Author and Researcher, Dave Devine
Consulting Content Editor, Terry Ann R. Neff
Copyeditor and Proofreader, Amanda Krause
Layout Designer, Carol Albee
Printing, AZLitho Publishing with publishing assistance from Laura Davis and Diann Buscemi

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“In the early part of the twentieth century, the Rev. Julius Atwood set out to help serve low-income men in Tucson who suffered from tuberculosis.  As he wrote then of his first memorable years in Arizona: “’It was the opening of a new era in the history of the [Episcopal] church, as well as the territory which had now become a state.’”  In founding St. Luke’s in the Desert, Atwood established a goal for it to be a safe and comfortable place for men without much money who needed help.”

“A century later, St. Luke’s continues to abide by Atwood’s vision but has changed its mission to providing affordable housing for low-income elderly women and men.  At the same time, the Baile is still held annually and members of the Board of Visitors continue to volunteer.  In its service to the community, the “House of Hopeful Optimism” in its centennial year on Adams Street remains a significant part of Tucson’s rich history.”