Jerome State Historic Park opens Thursday
Grand reopening at noon with free admission for a day
JEROME - The Jerome State Historic Park, with the Douglas Mansion as its centerpiece, will reopen Oct. 14 at noon. Admission for the reopening will be free.
When the popular state park was closed suddenly in February 2009 because of budget sweeps and needed repairs, the outlook was not promising for it to reopen anytime soon. But a partnership of sorts among the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, the State Parks Board, the Douglas family and the Town of Jerome has given the park new life.
Chip Davis, county supervisor for District 3, convinced the board to kick in $30,000. The State Parks Heritage Fund came up with grants for the project, and the Douglas family chipped in $15,000 for repairs.
Terri Leverton, assistant park manager, said the park will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday each week. Admission will be $5 for adults and $2 for children.
"We're going to rely a lot on volunteers," Leverton said. The park had an extensive network of volunteers before the park was closed. "Most will come back. We're in contact with them and looking forward to them coming back," she said.
She said that during the grand reopening volunteers will be stationed around the grounds to talk with visitors and make presentations on history, machinery and the general area.
"The restoration work that's been done is just outstanding," Leverton said. "We're very, very thrilled to have the park repairs done and be open to the public."
Former park manager Mike Rollins has taken a job in New Mexico, according to Leverton. The interim park manager is Tim Kristof, and Keith Ayotte will take over Nov. 1.
The park will have a full-time maintenance person and some part-time staff.
Leverton said the staff is very excited because 95 school children will visit the park on Friday.
The Douglas Mansion was built in 1916 by Jimmy "Rawhide" Douglas, and it became a state park in 1965.
Douglas designed the mansion as a home for his family and as a hotel for mining officials and investors. Originally, the mansion featured a billiard room, wine cellar and steam heat. Built from adobe bricks made on site, the home was well ahead of the times with a central vacuum system.
Now the museum features many exhibits, mining artifacts, photographs, minerals and a three-dimensional model of Jerome with its underground mines and tunnels.
Outside the mansion are mining artifacts, picnic area and panoramic vistas.