Local man shares his passion, collection of historical Mesa photos

New feature added this week to Mesa News Today

By Jill Adair

Phil Hannum spent many influential years of his life, including high school, in Mesa. He later moved away but his thoughts often turned back to what he considers “home.”

Years later, as he was nearing retirement age in Tennessee, he saw a Facebook page that showed historical photos of a local community. Phil’s interest was sparked.

“I thought I’ve got to do something with Mesa,” he says.

He began collecting photos online of old Mesa.

“It began with downtown Mesa,” he says, “and what it was like in the 1960s.”

That time was dear to Phil, having graduated from Westwood High School in 1966.

Phil started a Facebook group about seven years ago called “If you grew up in Mesa, AZ you remember…” The site has more than 1,000 members.

He enjoys sharing the photos, and the memories.

“The photos bring out a lot of comments,” he says. “It stirs up old memories.”

He’s also made a lot of friends through the Facebook page but his greatest surprise came from connecting to a woman who had also graduated from Westwood the same year but they had not been acquainted in high school.

This woman, a widow, began commenting on some of the old photos with Phil, who is divorced, and those comments led to messaging and to meeting face-to-face. Penne would become his wife.

The two were married and moved back to Mesa several years ago.

Now they visit the Mesa Room together in the Mesa Library, copying old photos and advertisements and researching dates and places.

He says he expanded his photo collection to the earliest days of the city through the 80s.

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A Look Back: These homes from the Historic District of Mesa still stand today..436..442..456 N Robson Street..1923 era

“I bet I have a better collection of old Mesa photos than anyone,” he boasts. “It started as a hobby, and then it took off.”

While he enjoys seeing the growing city of Mesa unfold in the photos his favorites are from the 60s.

“That 60’s era – that me,” he says.

Phil says Mesa has obviously changed a lot.

“Some for the good, some for the bad; but I still call it home,” he says.

Editor’s note: We kick off this week a special weekly feature to Mesa News Today, “A Look Back,” spotlighting photos and captions from the collection of Phil Hannum’s historical Mesa photos. Sign up for the FREE weekly newsletter by email to MesaNewsToday@gmail.com. Follow on Facebook and Twitter too!

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Several photos of nearly 3,000 from Phil Hannum’s collection

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