JEROME - The annual Jerome Historic Home and Building Tour enters its 45th year Saturday and Sunday. The first tour starts each day at 9 a.m. and the last one at 3 p.m. The Jerome Chamber of Commerce puts on the tour, and it is that organization's major fund-raiser.
New this year will be the History of the West Time Line reenactments featuring living history activities and demonstrations from 1860 through 1898. Included will be the Civil War, the cowboys of the 1870s and the Rough Riders of the Spanish American War. In addition to battle reenactments and gunfights, groups will be camped with historians so guests can ask questions and see period dress and weapons.
This year's tour will include four homes, three of them historical and one contemporary. The United Verde Apartments and the Christ Church of Jerome are on the tour, as well as the Connor Hotel and the Audrey Headframe Park. Spook Hall (Lawrence Memorial Hall) will end the tour with refreshments. Tickets to this year's tour will include free admission to the Jerome Historical Society's Mine Museum.
Transportation is provided from site to site. Unfortunately, because of steps and winding paths, the tour is not handicapped accessible. At each site, volunteer docents will explain the history and little-known stories that make each venue unique.
The Sullivan House, on Society Hill, is the tour's headliner attraction. Built in 1886 by the mining company, this is the oldest home on the tour. Con Sullivan, the mine overseer, lived in the home with his wife, Mary, and the couple's eight children.
During the 1970s a group of Jerome Hippies formed the Restoration Commission. Phelps Dodge agreed to rent the homes on Society Hill for $50 a month and allow the residents to improve the historic homes. In 1987, Sherry McMahon purchased the home and has lived there ever since with her husband, Curtis Lindner. Renovation of the 1,000-square foot home included a new foundation, cabinetry, roof, paint, wood flooring, bathrooms, plumbing and new railings on porches.
The Mills House was built in 1898 for mine managers. Years later, Carl Mills, assistant engineer, lived in the house with his wife, Ynez Reynolds. The couple had two children, Mark and Marcia. Carl was moved to Bisbee in 1950, and the house sat vacant until restoration began earlier in this decade by John Scarcella. The Phinney family of Tucson now owns the home.
The Gutierrez Cottage is a functional home, simply constructed and one of few remaining examples of the homes that once lined Juarez and Rich streets. Jerome miner Damian Gutierrez raised his family in this home. His son, Alfredo, married Ava in the 1970s and brought her back to Jerome. Ava designed and manufactured a line of clothing named "Alfredo's Wife."
The home is owned by Karen and Steve Cheifetz and features one of Jerome's loveliest yards with extensive terracing and stonework.
The home of Jay and Pam Kinsella is a contemporary three-story building with sweeping vistas of the Verde Valley. A former mayor and current council member, Jay has been an important part of Jerome for years. He and Pam have filled their home with antiques and memorabilia.
The Christ Church of Jerome is now the office and archive building for the Jerome Historical Society. The Society bought the property in 1954 for $170. It cost $15,000 to build in 1927.
The Society began a complete restoration in 1976, redesigning it into an assembly hall and theater.
The Connor Hotel was built by David Connor in 1898 and burned down twice by the turn of the century. Because Connor had insured the hotel for $14,500, he was able to quickly rebuild. The hotel offered first class lodging in 20 rooms for $1 per night. A barroom, card rooms and billiard tables were located on the first floor.
By the 1930s the hotel rooms were mostly empty except for a few being rented to remaining Jerome residents. In the 1960s and 1970s the hotel was a low-budget flophouse. The hotel was closed in the 1980s for safety reasons and remained vacant until the current owners began renovation.
The United Verde Apartments were built in 1918 by the United Verde Mining Company. Originally, the building included 13 three-room and 20 four-room apartments. The apartments were occupied by female teachers, nurses and some small families. A utility company and a children's welfare clinic occupied the lower levels. Today, the building comprises apartments, retail stores and vacation rentals.
The Audrey Shaft Headframe of the Little Daisy Mine is the largest wooden, head frame still standing in Arizona. Completed in 1918, the 1,900-foot shaft helped lift almost 4 million tons of ore to the surface by 1938.
A glass platform over the shaft provides visitors with a view all the way down the shaft with the help of special lighting and mirrors.
Tickets for the tour are $12 for adults and $6 for children 3 to 12, with children under 3 admitted free.
For information, call Coleen Hall at (928) 649-3847.