Tucson’s January 8th Memorial Foundation


If you have been in downtown Tucson within the past several months, you know work is well underway on the memorial to the 2011 Tucson tragedy in which six people were killed and 13 injured.
Because this important project would not have been possible without your support – and the support of thousands of your friends and neighbors and numerous generous corporation citizens – the board members of Tucson’s Jan. 8 Memorial Foundation want to ensure that each of you is fully informed about progress on this permanent memorial.

This memorial, now rising in the historic heart of Tucson in El Presidio Park, will tell the story of what happened on Jan. 8, 2011 while educating and reminding people of their critical role in self-governance. Most importantly, this memorial will remind future generations how our community came together at an important moment in history and how we can all continue to build a better democracy through active participation and civic discourse.

Below are updated renderings of the memorial from the project architect, Chee Salette.

Although funds for the memorial were raised by Tucson’s Jan. 8 Memorial Foundation, the project is being built on property owned by Pima County. The construction is being managed and overseen by experts from the county.
After soliciting bids, Pima County awarded the construction contract to Chasse Building Systems, an Arizona company headquartered in Phoenix and with a Tucson office.

As with any project built in downtown Tucson, once digging started there were unexpected finds. Tucson has one of the richest and longest-documented settlement histories in the nation. The first Native Americans arrived about 10,000 BC, to be followed by Hohokam farmers, the Tohono O’odham of today, 17th and 18th century Spanish missionaries and soldiers, Mexican families and settlers and American pioneers and entrepreneurs. The center of this long history is the area where the Tucson Presidio was founded in 1775 – the area where the memorial is being built.
In preparation for construction of the memorial, the area west of the Historic Pima County Courthouse underwent archeological excavations (below) to document, map, photograph and record features from the many time periods of Tucson’s history. Numerous archaeological features and building foundations dating from the 18th and 19th centuries that chronicle Tucson’s past were uncovered and examined.

Area west of the Historic Pima County Courthouse underwent archaeological excavations.

Among the items that were recovered (below): a French pipe stem, flints and musket balls, ornate brass items from the Presidio period, shells used as jewelry, Majolica ceramics from the Presidio and Mexican periods, Tohono O’odham and Hohokam pottery sherds and much more. All were examined and catalogued. Trash deposits and a bread oven from the Presidio era also were unearthed.
Also found, from much more modern times, were unmapped and unexpected underground utility lines that had to be relocated. Because of this, construction on the memorial will not be finished until late summer or early fall of 2020. On Jan. 8, 2020 – the ninth anniversary of the Tucson tragedy – there will be a bell-ringing ceremony at the memorial site. The official opening of the memorial now is scheduled for Jan. 8, 2021 – the 10th anniversary of the tragedy. We will keep you updated on both anniversary events.

A collection of some of the items that were recovered: a French pipe stem, flints and musket balls, ornate brass items from the Presidio period, shells used as jewelry, Majolica ceramics from the Presidio and Mexican periods, Tohono O’odham and Hohokam pottery sherds.

Education portion of Memorial being developed 

We also are working with Pima County on the education component of the memorial – something that all of us agree is critical to its long-term success. This may involve an app for visitors with mobile devices, booklets for visitors and other ways to make sure that the lessons we all learned after that day will not be forgotten. This will be a living memorial communicating to future generations and to people who weren’t as immediately affected as all of us.
And while the construction fundraising has been completed, there remain funding opportunities for those of you who want to be part of the memorial. There are places where donors can still be recognized. We urge you to contact us before naming opportunities are gone.
We will remain in touch and send you details of any other events marking the anniversary.
Thanks for your continued support and we look forward to hearing from you.
Ron Barber
President, Tucson’s Jan. 8 Memorial Foundation Board