For almost ten years the revitalized Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation has been working to preserve the places that make Tucson and Southern Arizona unique. While we have made huge strides, having a building, a face in Tucson, will allow us to serve our community even more effectively. With the closing of Hirsh’s Shoes, THPF identified an opportunity to save an iconic building and create a lasting, physical home for the Foundation. The purchase of the Hirsh’s Shoes building will allow THPF to expand their preservation efforts in Tucson and Southern Arizona and continue to present the educational programming, community advocacy and the hands-on work of preservation that is so important in order to protect our shared heritage.  On October 9, 2018 the building was designated a Tucson Historic Landmark by a unanimous vote of the Mayor and Council, the first modern building to receive the designation.

  • Hirsh's Shoes, 1955
    photo: Sid Hirsh


Bernard “Bernie” Friedman’s architectural work shaped the identity of Tucson. Between 1940 and 1970, his progressive designs distinguished downtown and the surrounding suburban area. With unique structural expressions and elegant proportions, his commercial, educational and religious buildings mirrored national trends while still re ecting our desert environment. His bold designs celebrated modern materials and contemporary forms.

Born and raised in Chicago to Jewish immigrant parents, Friedman graduated from the University of Illinois in 1938 with a Bachelor of Science degree in architecture and moved to Tucson in 1940. During World War II, between 1942 and 1946, he served as a Construction Of cer with the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps in Europe. After he was discharged in 1946, Friedman returned to Tucson where he married his wife, Irma.

In addition to numerous commercial buildings in Tucson and along Broadway’s Sunshine Mile, Friedman designed Temple Emanu-El, Tucson City Hall, The University of Arizona Main Library, multiple laboratory facilities at Kitt Peak National Observatory and contributed to the design of the El Con Shopping Center and Tucson Community Center. Hirsh’s Shoes remains one of his most beloved and recognized buildings.

  • Hirsh's Shoes's, 1954
    photo: Ray Manley; courtesy of the Hirsh Family
  • A happy girl poses wearing a new pair of shoes won in a contest sponsored by Hirsh’s Shoes.
    photo courtesy of the Hirsh Family
  • Shoppers view merchandise in the display windows at the entrance. This photo was published on April 7, 1954 in the Arizona Daily Star to announce the opening of the store.
    photo: Wong


David Hirsh emigrated as a child with his parents from Eastern Europe to Pennsylvania where they owned a successful boot shop. David’s wife, Rose, was a first generation Pennsylvania native. She suffered with arthritis, prompting the family to relocate to Tucson in 1944.
In 1954 architect Bernard Friedman was commissioned by Rose to design a modern building for her new shoe store in the emerging suburban shopping district near Broadway Village along the Sunshine Mile.

The shop was designed as a free-standing building though it is now sandwiched between other buildings. As a rare surviving example of the popular open front façade, its interior and exterior zones are fully integrated. The dynamic entrance is topped with the original neon letter forms.

For 62 years the Hirsh family has maintained the unique architectural expression, typical of the best mid-century retail storefronts. In 2015 they were honored with a preservation award from the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission. Hirsh’s Shoes is an icon of Tucson’s commercial architecture. In 2016 the Hirsh Family announced they would close the store. Deeply concerned about the fate the building, facing pressure from developers and the impact of widening Broadway, the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation and the Hirsh family agreed on a plan to save this special part of Tucson’s history.



Downloadable Resources

Hirsh's Shoes - City of Tucson Historic Landmark Application
Hirsh's Shoes - City of Tucson Historic Landmark Sign Application

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