This writer remembers moving to Arizona and visiting Papago Park in Phoenix, Arizona for the first time. Curiosity eventually grew a need to learn why there was a pyramid towering high on a hill overlooking the landscape. The locals would tease and ask, “Do you know who’s buried in Hunt’s Tomb?” Others would naively ask, “Who?” and they would retort, “Hunt, of course!”
This inquisitive mind became so overwhelmed that a friend drove me up to the monument so I could explore this elegant pyramid for myself. That is when it was learned that Arizona’s former governor George E. P. Hunt (seven terms in office) is buried there. Also entombed are his beloved wife, in-laws, daughter, and a son in law. It is a mesmerizing and beautiful view he selected as their final resting place.
George E. P. Hunt was born November 1, 1859. He lived his early years in Arizona up in the mining town of Globe where his interest in politics flourished. He was sworn in as Arizona’s first governor on February 14, 1912 followed by six additional terms ending in 1932. A portly gentleman, he often referred to himself as the “Old Walrus.” He was a supporter of reformed government and was either revered or feared by his followers. Hunt passed away December 24, 1934 and was laid to rest beside his wife in the Hunt Mausoleum.
So many ask why Governor Hunt selected a pyramid as his burial monument. A pyramid represents the primitive mound from which Egyptians believed the planet Earth was created. The shape of the pyramid represents the descending rays of the sun. The upper chambers were intended as a magical device to attract the Sun God Re on his journey across the sky. The daily encounter with Re would allow the dead to assume the role of the great Sun God in the afterlife. Others say the Pyramid was designed as a resurrection machine pointing to the stars in the Heavens.
The archaeological discovery of the King Tut tomb in 1922 spawned a worldwide fascination for anything Egyptian. The Egypt Craze or Art Deco was popular in jewelry, fashion and building architecture. George Hunt and his family journeyed to Egypt in 1930 to visit the great pyramids and monuments. The trip sparked his desire to search for a location to build his own pyramid and be buried in a mausoleum for all eternity.
Hunt was granted permission from Congress to build his 30 foot by 20 foot pyramid on a small piece of the 2,050 acres that had been set aside as Papago Saguaro National Monument. The portion of land now belongs to the City of Phoenix and in Papago Park. It is built of a concrete foundation and covered with 4 inch white polished tiles. The pyramid can be seen from almost anywhere in the park. The tomb is the most visited Arizona governor grave site.
As the construction of the mausoleum was being constructed, Hunted was quoted to say, “The people of this state have been good to me and in my last sleep I want to be buried so that I may in my spirit look over this splendid valley that in years to come will be a Mecca of those that love beautiful things and in the state where people rule.”
George E. P. Hunt has a great view of Phoenix and the Arizona State Capital today!
To get to Hunt’s Tomb:
Directions: The Hunt Tomb is on the west side of Papago Park, overlooking the Phoenix Zoo and the park. Take the turn for the entrance to the Phoenix Zoo at 455 N. Galvin Parkway, but turn to the left to the picnic area instead of entering the zoo parking lot. Turn left again at a second entrance to the zoo parking lot. (It will appear that the first two turns take you away from the Tomb which is visible from most of the road.) At the next intersection, turn right following the sign to Hunt’s Tomb. Stay on that road, bearing right as it winds up the hill to the parking lot. The Tomb is a few steps to the east of the parking lot.