OFLNA gets its name from Fort Lowell, an Army post established on the site in 1873. At its peak, Fort Lowell was comprised of approximately 30 adobe buildings, including a hospital, commissary, trading store, guard house officers’ quarters, and kitchens. The Fort was abandoned in 1891, and what remains of the original structures can be seen on the grounds of the present-day Fort Lowell Park, located on the east side of Craycroft Road between Fort Lowell Road and Glenn Street, and on several sites on the west side of Craycroft Road across from the park.

After the fort was abandoned, Mexican farmers and ranchers began moving into the area, forming a community known as El Fuerte or The Fort. Many examples of their Sonoran-style adobe homes can be seen here today. Also visible is an irrigation system built by Mormons in the 1890s for carrying water from the Tanque Verde Creek to their farmlands nearby.