History of Carefree2019-05-06T15:40:00-07:00
Carefree Founders

Town founders and visionaries, (left) Tom Darlington & K.T. Palmer planning the layout of the Town in the 1950’s.

History of Carefree

Carefree Development Corporation

Thomas D. Darlington (1904–1969) was originally from Centreville, Idaho. After graduating from Stanford University, he worked as a publicity agent in Delaware, then became General Manager for Hillspaugh Ltd. in Sheffield, England. He became the plant manager for Garrett Corporation’s Air Research in Phoenix during World War II and decided to stay in Arizona after the war.

Kenyon Turner (K.T.) Palmer (1899–1976) was born in Columbus, Mississippi and came to Arizona in 1920 from Illinois, expecting to die of tuberculosis within four or five years. After graduating with a law degree from the University of Arizona, in 1934, he homesteaded a 640-acre ranch on the western slope of Pinnacle Peak.  Palmer owned and operated the largest second-hand merchandise and gun store in Arizona, became a respected lawyer, ran for U.S. Senator on the Republican ticket and traveled the world.

In 1946, Tom and K.T. met at a Kiwanis luncheon in the Adams Hotel in Phoenix, where the seminal idea of Carefree was born. Years later, both men found themselves working in a Scottsdale real estate office and their previously monumental dream was rekindled. Despite their differences, they both lived by the ideals of thrift, industry, honesty and loyalty. They carried out many expensive joint ventures on a simple handshake.

In 1955, a 400-acre goat farm north of Scottsdale was found with an abundant well, and 2,200 surrounding acres were secured.  K.T. named their joint business venture the Carefree Development Corp., and the name “Carefree” was regularly used to describe their vision of the Town they proposed. In 1958, the Darlington-Palmer building was finished in the downtown area (that building is now Town Hall) and in 1959, the iconic Sundial was completed.

Timeline of Carefree

October 2001


A dirt lot in the center of Town is transformed into the Carefree Desert Gardens, featuring walkways, bridges, water features and an amphitheater.

June 2008


The Town’s new Fire Station No. 1 and Emergency Operations Center is completed. The building is designed to meet the future needs of the area, and aesthetically relates to its natural surroundings.

October 2009


Carefree celebrates its 25th anniversary on Saturday, October 3. The Town’s motto is “Carefree. Where the sun marks time.”

September 2011


Carefree Desert Gardens are renovated as a gift from Mark and Juanita Wdowiak of Desert Foothills Landscaping. Their contribution allowed for the addition of a greater variety of plants, identification signage and a tour map.

April 2016


In April, the Kiwanis Splash Pad opens in the Carefree Desert Gardens. Featuring a unique water scorpion, the nature-inspired play area was donated to the Town by the Kiwanis Club of Carefree.

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