Sun, April 05

46th annual Jerome Home Tour May 21-22
Longest running such tour in Arizona

The Wingfield Home. VVN/Jon Pelletier

The Wingfield Home. VVN/Jon Pelletier

JEROME - For the 46th time since the Jerome Historic Home & Building Tour began, a few select homes will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday. Each year, the tour allows locals and tourists alike the opportunity to enter some of the town's most interesting and historically significant homes and buildings.

This year's tour includes one public building, a church and six homes. Five of the homes are steeped in Jerome history, and one home was recently completed.

The tour is guided with transportation provided in 12-passenger vans. Volunteer docents will explain the history and stories connected with each venue. Unfortunately, even though transportation is provided, plenty of steps and winding paths prevent the tour from being handicapped accessible. Pets are not allowed.

The Haven United Methodist Church was built in 1927 at a cost of $16,000. The church could seat 200 people, but by 1937, the congregation had dwindled to about 100. By the 1950s, as the mines were closing and the people were fleeing Jerome, the church membership could boast only two souls.

The only new home on the tour is the McDonald/Thompson residence, completed in 2007. The three-story home is filled with furnishings ranging from a 1850s Spanish armoire to contemporary lighting fixtures. This home offers spectacular views from huge windows and four decks.

One of the more notorious homes in Jerome is Lil's Place, originally owned by Lillian Douglas and operated as a house of ill repute. On July 7, 1931, a brutal murder occurred on the second floor. Juanita Marie "Sammie" Dean was strangled, reportedly by the mayor's son, whom Sammie had refused to marry. No one was ever arrested for the murder.

The Wingfield Home, built in 1904, by James Wingfield, whose family was very significant in the history of Camp Verde. Steve Maglich was the next owner of the home, and one of his daughters married into the Groseta family, well-known ranchers in the Verde Valley.

The Williams Home was built in 1917 and remained in the same family for 85 years. The current owners have made a commitment to a total renovation. The property is being shown this year as a "Before" Jerome home. In a couple of years, when the renovation is complete, it will be back on the tour as an "After" example. Laura Williams, the second owner of the residence, was a founding member of the Jerome Historical Society, and the town's Art Park is named for her.

The Baker's House was built in 1912 by the family who operated a commercial bakery. Originally the home was built as a single-family dwelling with a caretaker's quarters on the bottom floor. The home sits on four lots and includes a parking area. It is now a triplex and has been remodeled.

One of the oldest homes in Jerome, The Anderson House was built in 1890. Although little is known about the Anderson's, Winifred Foster bought the home in the 1950s, and it soon became known as "Winifred's Folly." Ana Dering purchased the home from Winifred, and she was known in the Verde Valley for her line of clothing called "Alfredo's Wife."

Lawrence Memorial Hall - better known locally as "Spook Hall," will be the final stop on the tour, with free lemonade and cookies. Built in 1917 as a garage, Spook Hall became the home of one of J.C. Penny's largest stores until it closed in 1953. The Jerome Historical Society purchased the building and turned it into the "official" community center for the ghost town.

Tickets will be $12 for adults and $6 for children, and will be sold at the old fire station next to the Police Department on Main Street. Tickets will be sold from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. both days. The tour will continue until 5 p.m. each day.

Ticket price will include a free tour of the Mine Museum on Main Street.

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