Did You Know: State Archives Building Among Most Secure Government Facilities In Arizona

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
Published: Friday, April 24, 2015 - 2:55pm
Updated: Saturday, April 25, 2015 - 8:43pm
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Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez/KJZZ
This is the main entrance of the Rosenbaum History building. When it first opened in 2009 it was considered the most modern state of the art building in the country.

If you had to find old state records or photographs, would you know where to go? Well, they’re located in a modern facility created to withstand the times.

The Polly Rosenbaum State Archives and History Building is located near the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix and is home of the State Archives. This is where Arizona’s permanent government records are stored.

Did you know the Rosenbaum building is one of the most secure government structures in the state?

“In 2009, when this building opened it was the most modern, state-of-the-art building in the country,” said Dennis Preisler, assistant director of State Archives and Records Management Division.

"The reason it has to be so secure is because this is about people’s lives. It’s really about protecting the citizens of the state of Arizona,” Preisler said.

The building is named after Polly Rosenbaum, the longest-serving Arizona legislator. Rosenbaum representing Gila County for 45 years.

From the outside the two-story building looks like a modern structure, but inside it’s more like a vault. This 134,000-square-foot facility is constructed with one-foot thick concrete walls and 16-inch-thick concrete floors.

The storage rooms are called pods and are kept at 55 degrees to properly preserve the documents. These are rooms the size of a grand ballroom with about 24-foot ceilings.

The pods are lined with tall shelves, with thousands of boxes extending from one end of the room to the other. There are more than 15 miles of removable shelving in the building.

“We have all governors from back to the territorial days. We keep the secretary of state’s office papers. We have all the major state agencies if they deem permanent," Preisler said. "This is so well designed that most people can’t notice it but the floor is slightly sloped so if water does get in here it drains away.”

On the first floor is a conservation room where documents and photographs are treated and restored. A triage room where items are checked for small problems.

“We have a very active pest-control system. We monitor it. We don’t want any pests or anything in here because that’s all bad,” said Preisler.

Preisler said the most commonly requested materials are family documents. So, if you’re looking for your genealogy in Arizona, you could very well find information here. All these documents are made available to the public.

The oldest item stored at the State Archives is a map from 1579 that depicts what was believed North America and Asia looked like.

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