The George Ellis House is the main building in the Cattle Track Complex now known as the Cattle Track Arts Compound.  The compound is situated on two adjacent land plots on the east side of Cattle Track Road (aka Miller Road) between McDonald and Lincoln Drives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

In the 1930s, George L. Ellis moved to Arizona and started working as an architect and designer. He bought some land near the Arizona Canal and constructed a small redwood cottage at 105 N. Cattle Track together with his wife Rachael, he transformed the property into Cattle Track Arts Compound, a sanctuary for artists and crafts, and an artistic oasis that defined the city.

The comparatively flat ten plus acre complex, located in the Sonoran desert at an elevation of 1280 feet, is marked by a random arrangement of buildings related to the topography and evolution of uses. 

The shapes of the buildings are plain, with varying massing. There are a variety of homes, utilitarian buildings, artist studios and storage rooms, as well as many outdoor living areas. Several structures double as both living and working spaces.

The George Ellis House is a one-story home built in 1937 by George L. Ellis and extended significantly in the 1940s. The property’s outbuildings include four workshop studios, three residential studio rental units, and a pump house, all of which are of differing vintage. The main building on the Kueffner property is a house designed by George Ellis in 1938, with ancillary buildings including two workshop-studios.

It’s built in a unique “saddlebags” zoned layout, with a central breezeway dividing the living and sleeping areas. The exterior walls of the living area are made of large, unfinished redwood planks arranged in a vertical pattern. The bedroom zone addition’s exterior walls are made of pumice block. The roof is a gable with a low pitch and large overhangs. Other glazing is shaped to the roof’s gable ends and is grouped in a continuous vertical band across the building’s living room façade. Horizontal windows are tucked under the eaves in the bedrooms. North of the main living area and east of the bedroom areas is a screened breezeway.

There are four corner, cantilevered fireplaces, hand-made hardware, red concrete floors with integral baseboards, and redwood built-ins and other handmade cabinetry in the house as examples of Ellis’ architectural style and workmanship.

The Cattle Track complex also funded George’s other business ventures, such as farming and the design of fiberglass products. He died in 1971, but his wife Rachael and daughter Janie maintain his legacy by living on the property and participating in the local arts scene. 

On the ten-plus-acre property, an important array of Ellis buildings remain, demonstrating the distinctive Ellis architectural features and supporting uses synonymous with creative endeavors and the idea of dual live/work spaces. Though new buildings have been added over time, their shape, materials, and arrangement follow the historic construction style that began under Ellis’ supervision.

The Marshall Gallery 2

By Dru Bloomfield – https://www.flickr.com/photos/athomeinscottsdale/3836187025/in/photostream/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=95427764

Historical Significance

The Cattle Track complex is historically notable because of its links to Scottsdale’s farming heritage and, more recently, to art and architecture themes. The complex has evolved since 1937, when George Ellis started his residential architectural and design career in Scottsdale by constructing a small redwood cottage at 105 N. Cattle Track out of boards salvaged from an unused water pipeline. 

Ellis’ buildings’ design, architectural consistency, and functional essence represent distinct characteristics of a form, age, and method of construction significant to Scottsdale’s built environment. The complex has played an important role in Scottsdale’s development as an arts colony, as it is where many artists, including painter Philip Curtis, choose to live and work.

The physical characteristics of the structures inside the complex serve to communicate the complex’s historical significance. The single-story buildings feature low-pitched roofs with broad, overhanging eaves and a heavy horizontal emphasis. A flowing system of rooms and breezeways combining interior areas used for various purposes with the outside characterizes building plans. 

Custom wood windows, especially strings of horizontal sliding windows, and eclectic handmade features such as screen doors and custom cabinetry are also standout features. The basic features of the buildings are further described by the materials.

The Cattle Track complex funded George’s other business ventures, such as farming and the design of fiberglass products. He died in 1971, but his wife Rachael and daughter Janie maintain his legacy by living on the property and participating in the local arts scene. 

Scottsdale, Arizona is full of amazing historical landmarks that help to make our city an amazing, culturally rich city:

  • Scottsdale Grammar School, also called The Little Red Schoolhouse
  • Louise Lincoln Kerr House
  • McCormick Stillman Railroad Park
  • The Valley Field Riding and Polo Club of Scottsdale
  • Roald Amundsen Pullman Private Railroad Car
  • Historic Taliesin West
  • Old Town Scottsdale
  • Main Street Arts District

All of these wonderful landmarks are located just a short distance from our location at 7106 East Main Street! Stop by for a visit anytime!