1979

Sometime in 1979, the manor was built as a private residence for Carl Jensen, one of the original founders of an aloe vera company named Forever Living Products. The home was completed in 1981 and oddly, a permit to build the home and a final inspection were issued by the City of Mesa on the same day. Folklore has it that there was no original request to build the home, which was hidden by several acres of orange groves from city inspectors, until an inspector inadvertently flew over the property in a private plane as the home neared completion. The original home encompassed four stories and almost 16,000 livable square feet. There were ten bedrooms (the Jensen’s had nine children), 14 bathrooms, two kitchens, two laundry rooms and a movie theatre. The hall on the second floor is an amazing 150 feet long. The story goes that each of the children asked for something special during the construction of the home, which explains the secret passages built into closets, the large sauna, Jacuzzi, weight room and the windowed turret on the 3rd floor southwest side of the house – perfect for watching airplanes take off from nearby Falcon Field.

The backyard included a gazebo, barbeque pit, sunken/lighted tennis court, racquetball courts, and an outdoor Jacuzzi. The 30 X 60 foot pool is 12 feet deep and covered in one-inch mosaic tile. It featured a slide and a commercial diving board. The mosaic insignia of a dove (it may be a seagull) in the bottom of the pool is the logo for Forever Living Products, and is original to the home!

1985

The Jensen’s occupied the home until 1985, when the home and related 7 acres of orange grove were sold back to the original owners of the property who owned the 48 acres of surrounding property as well. There were several investors at this time that put in streets and underground utilities from McDowell Road with the intent to divide the property into a high-end residential subdivision using what is now Stonebridge Manor as a clubhouse. The plan was rejected by the City of Mesa and as a result, the group was unable to recoup their investment. At that point in time, another group of investors bought the property and used the manor (mostly the first floor) as office space, intending to create a surrounding office park until the late 1980’s when the Arizona S&L scandal and related real estate crash, when the property was surrendered to the RTC.

The RTC held the property for a number of years, until it was auctioned off to Bank One. In order to place the home and 3 1/2 acres on the market, Bank One had to refurbish some damage from neglect within the home: there were warped and rotting wood floors that had been damaged from a broken pipe on the 2nd story that were replaced with carpet and some of the interior walls were repaired and repainted. The home was eventually sold to a retired schoolteacher from California. She intended to open a B&B, but lived alone in the home with her youngest son, who was attending ASU until she passed away in 1996. The property was eventually sold out of the McFadden estate by her three adult children.

1998

The home was purchased in February 1998 by childhood friends Michael Mills and Jim Flake. They intended to remodel the house and grounds in order to open a wedding and reception facility. For years, the house was informally known as the Aloe Vera Mansion, but in February 1998, it was re-named Stonebridge Manor by the new owners. After extensive redesign and remodeling, the first wedding was held at Stonebridge Manor on May 15, 1998. Since that time, the manor has been remodeled to provide multiple options for reception spaces with the addition of a 6,000 square foot tented pavilion (on the old tennis court), three additional kitchens, abundant parking, and landscaping nearly 25,000 square feet of lawn with extensive planters, trees and shrubbery. We are excited about the additions of our in-house catering staff and an ‘al fresco’ luncheon bistro and finally, a stone bridge. Here at Stonebridge Manor, we look forward to celebrating many more weddings in the coming year.