Arizona legislator and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor‘s mark on American history is so pervasive that even her former house is honored by historians.

The Arizona State Historic Preservation Office announced Friday that O’Connor’s home in Tempe is now on the National Register of Historic Places. 

This makes O’Connor’s home a property considered worthy of preservation.

“With this designation, this important piece of Arizona history will be protected for generations to come,” Gov. Doug Ducey said in a tweet.

The O’Connor house was originally built in 1958 in Papago Park. It was relocated to Tempe in 2009. Today, it’s the home of the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute.

The State Historic Preservation Office nominated the home to be recognized earlier this year, saying it’s “the place she herself testifies was crucial to her rise in politics and around which the local community has committed to preserving to continue her legacy of service to Arizona and the nation.”

Republican Sen. Martha McSally and Democratic Sen. Krysten Sinema helped move the designation along.

On May 21, Sen. McSally wrote a letter to the Acting Associate Director Joy Beasley asking for the House to be listed on the National Register.

“Sandra Day O’Connor is a trailblazer who had an immeasurable impact on not only our country, but our state as well,” McSally said in a separate press release. “I applaud the National Park Service for recognizing her contribution to Arizona and taking the appropriate steps to preserve her legacy for generations to come.”

Sinema also wrote to the Park Service in May, asking them to list the house on the National Register to honor O’Connor’s legacy.

“Sandra Day O’Connor is one of my heroes; she committed her life to civil discourse and paved the way for women to pursue a career in public service. Her home represents her work as a consensus builder and I am glad to see it rightfully placed on the National Register of Historic Places,” Sinema said in a statement. 

Krysten Sinema also spoke out on the designation. 

The office’s nomination was approved by the Arizona Historic Sites Review Committee on March 22, according to the press release

“The Arizona SHPO is proud to have collaborated with Justice O’Connor’s friends and colleagues as well as the O’Connor Institute to ensure national recognition of this legacy resource,” Kathryn Leonard, Arizona State Historic Preservation officer, said in the release.

Why the O’Connor house is important

The Sandra Day O’Connor house was her home base as she established her career and raised her family from the ’50s to the ’80s. O’Connor was a prolific attorney and judge who invited prominent Arizona figures to gather in her home.

The press release announcing her home’s designation said it represented the intersection of her identities as a mother, judge, lawyer and politician. 

JUSTICE SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR:  Arizona ranch girl, American legend

O’Connor’s political career made history in 1981, when President Ronald Reagan named her the first female Supreme Court Justice.

“Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is an inspiration to so many Arizonans,” Ducey said in the press release. “The O’Connor House was her home for decades as she shattered glass ceilings and blazed a trail for others to follow.”

This designation has solidified the preservation of O’Connor’s home — one more step in the cementing of her legacy.


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