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Mary Rose and Earl Wilcox

Maricopa County, AZ: (Jul-03-07) Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox was accused of illegally demolishing a historic site when she and her husband Earl, razed El Portal, at 701 S. Second Ave. in 2004. A team of historians, Hispanic residents, and archivists recently identified El Portal, a Mexican restaurant owned by Wilcox, as a building important to Phoenix's Hispanic history. The restaurant was built for Mercedes Zapien in 1947 by her six sons. Zapien was born in Mexico, came to Arizona in 1918, and became a US citizen in 1958, according to a city report. She opened the restaurant next door to American Legion Post 41 with the help of her sons, who were World War II veterans. Wilcox claimed that the 105-year-old house was a "drug-infested crack house," and she was unaware it was historic. The pair sidestepped criminal prosecution by agreeing to a settlement, including a $10,000 donation to the Phoenix Historic Preservation Office to promote the city's Hispanic heritage. [ARIZONA REPUBLIC: HISTORICAL DEMOLITION]

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Published on Jul-5-07


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