Kyrene Road

The origin of the street name Kyrene is from a man named Darrell Duppa, one of the founders of the city of Phoenix. He was born in Paris, France on October 9, 1832 and arrived in Prescott, Arizona in 1863. In 1870, he built a home at 115 West Sherman in Phoenix.

Darrell Duppa was well educated. He could quote Shakespeare off the top of his head, was fluent in 5 languages, and was well known for his hospitality and his toughness. Since he was very learned and well traveled he took it upon himself to help name Phoenix, and the area of Kyrene, which the street itself was named after.

Duppa liked to give meaning to the names. Phoenix, a bird that rose from the ashes, was symbolic of the growth of Phoenix (Furlong 18). Kyrene was most likely symbolic of seaports in the Mediterranean Sea area in Europe. Cyrene was a city now known as Libya, and there is also a seaport in Turkey named Kyrenia. Exactly why he found this area in Arizona to have resemblance to those in Europe is not exactly known, but it only makes that much more sense because of his interesting personality and character (Furlong 19).

In the early 1880's settlers arrived in the Kyrene area to farm. Families began farming wheat and barley, alfalfa, vegetables, fruit, and all the families had chickens and at least one cow. In the late 1800's, cotton was introduced. There was great profit to be made to produce cotton. In order to “…encourage the growth of cotton in and around Tempe [they] offered a $500 prize to the first farmer to produce a bale of cotton” (Furlong 30).

There were no paved roads, and transportation was limited to walking, riding horses or buggies. This made quite a trek traveling to Tempe or Phoenix. This also made it difficult for children to attend the schools that were in the north. In 1888, Kyrene parents requested the development of an elementary school district. The Board of Supervisors agreed, and on August 6, 1888 the Kyrene School District was formed (Furlong 19).

When the school district was established there were only a few roads. The government had elected "road viewers" to identify the "need for and dedication of public roadways” (Furlong 29). Three road viewers, two of which were James H. McClintock and J.C. Goodwin, saw the need for a road that would extend from the site of the new Kyrene School. At the same meeting that the Kyrene School District was formed, they recommended the opening of the road and it was accepted. The road, now known as Warner, extended west from McClintock to Kyrene Road, and ended at the site of the second Kyrene School.

Irene Bishop Redden remembers the first school in the Kyrene district. She states, “…it was a tiny, one-room school. And it was one mile east of where the Kyrene School is today” (Matsch). Irene Bishop Redden was born in the Kyrene district, attended school there for six years, taught in the Kyrene School District, and her family was very involved in the development of Kyrene for many years. She recalls the first school being demolished by a storm in 1890, “…the wind blew it down. And then my grandfather gave money, and the Redden boys built a larger building, it was lumber. And that’s were I started school” (Matsch). The school was rebuilt and moved to the northwest corner of Kyrene and Warner Roads.

Many years later, Catherine Rubush who started teaching in the Kyrene School District in 1954, reflected on the days when she taught sixth and eighth grade language arts at the Kyrene School. She remembered when the school was surrounded by cotton fields, a dairy farm, and a chicken ranch. She stated, “There weren’t nearly as many buildings” (Corcoran). She said it was the only school at the time, and there were two hundred children that attended the school, grades first through eighth. She goes on to explain, “Kyrene district changed but the kids stayed the same”. She adds, “You have such a sense of belonging that I think is unique of the Kyrene district” (Corcoran).

By Matt Rich & Tanzy Pullins