1939: COTTONWOOD COMMUNITY CLUB HOUSE; First Event, May 2, 1940.
The ladies of the Community Civic Club hired architect Leslie J. Mahoney to design a clubhouse for them in 1938. They did not know that he would become one of the most well known and prolific Arizona architects. Royal W. Lescher and Leslie J. Mahoney began working together in Phoenix in 1912. The Phoenix architectural firm of Lescher and Mahoney designed many buildings, and their influence on architecture is considered to be second only to Frank Lloyd Wright in Arizona. These architects designed many buildings together and they each designed buildings individually or with other architects. Royal W. Lescher was the architect James Douglas hired to design many of the buildings for the United Verde Extension Mining Company (Douglas Mansion, Daisy Hotel).
Interest in the Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style is usually traced to the Panama - California Exposition held in San Diego in 1915. The chief architect was Bertram G. Goodhue, who had studied the Spanish Colonial architecture of Mexico. In an interview, Leslie J. Mahoney said that he had been influenced by the work of Mr. Goodhue, and began to verge over to the Spanish styles. He felt that the historical background of Arizona was Spain and Mexico. Architects began to utilize traditional building materials such as adobe and stone. These materials were combined with modern construction materials, such as cement foundations and floors. New variants in style such as Monterey, Mission, Mediterranean, and Pueblo developed.
From the building site, Leslie Mahoney had a clear view of Tuzigoot, which had been excavated and stabilized (1933-1934). The overall effect of his new building suggests a stepped pyramid of Mesoamerica or a hilltop village of the Sinagua. The architect combined the visual design and materials of the prehistoric Southwest with the stylistic influences of the Modern design movement. Modern grey concrete columns are topped with a horizontal grooved band along the base of the parapet. The concrete building is sheathed with stone. Water-worn rock was carefully selected for size, shape, and color along the Verde River, then hauled to the building site in horse-drawn carts. Cut red sandstone blocks were hauled in from Sedona, to be used to face the front of the building and surround the entrance and windows.
Mrs. Mark Barker chaired the building committee and spent a great deal of time securing funds, monitoring design plans, and overseeing construction. Women of the Community Civic Club held bake sales, usually at the Charles Stemmer Post Office. Jennie Garrison would sometimes make up to 30 pies, and other members made similar contributions to these events. The ladies held white elephant sales, bridge parties, dinners, dances, and other events to raise money. With the contributions from 54 local business people in the Progressive Association, the required $15,000 needed for building materials was collected.
THE LAND: On August 9, 1935, the United Verde Extension Mining Company, by a "Gift Deed" granted a large parcel of land to "the Parks Committee of the unincorporated Town of Cottonwood and the residents thereof, for public park purposes or non-profit civic enterprises only." If this land located east of Main Street, south of what is now Pima, or any part of the property is no longer "used for public park purposes, the whole" of the property reverts back to "become the property of the grantor." (Book 163 of Deeds, pages 425-426). Included in this parcel was the site of the old school which had been built and used until the new Clemenceau School was completed (1923-1924). This would be the new building site.
In order to help qualify for financial and construction assistance, the United Verde Extension Mining Company provided additional Deeds; one granted part of the 1935 Gift Deed land to School District No. 6 on September 24, 1938 (Book 172 of Deeds, pages 411-412). This land transaction made it possible for the construction of the building by the Works Progress/Projects Administration (W.P.A.), which also provided two-thirds of the money.
Preparation and construction by the W.P.A. began in November of 1938, with the cornerstone laid on April 9, 1939. The building was completed in August, then dedicated in October of 1939. Community Civic Club fund-raising continued. Money was needed to build a stage, furnish the auditorium, build and equip the kitchen. The lack of money during a bleak economy is still evident, especially in the kitchen. Wood spools were topped with a metal washer and bolted to the doors for handles. Scrap wood from other building projects was used in the cabinets. The kitchen never was "in style," but it still exists as an example of innovation and creativity in a poverty-stricken community.
"COTTONWOOD CIVIC CLUB ENTERTAINS."
"A 'potluck' dinner and entertaining program was attended by 175 persons Thursday night in the Community Club House when the Cottonwood Civic Club members entertained their families."
"Spring flowers in many beautiful colors decorated the stage and tables, making a lovely setting for the first community gathering in the new club house, for which citizens have worked together to raise funds for materials."
"T. B. Jones was master of ceremonies and during the course of the program presented the following persons in songs, readings, and dances: Ann Farnara, Ruth Warfel, Roberta Carlson, Charles Farnara, Phyllis Morin, Gladys Chambers, Mary June Mounts, Joseph Savoini, Tommy Mounts, Jimmy Braley, Nancy Fuller, Dalphne Fuller, Wilma Jean Williamson, Rachel Willard, Marilyn Willard, Janet Black, Donnie Beccheti, Julian Taylor, Bobby Snyder, Markie Barker, Phyllis Garrison, Margaret Barker, Eva Zanetta, Shirley Love, and Marjorie Love."
"Mrs. Melvin Mounts, president, welcomed the guests with the hospiitality committee including Mrs. A. S. Hersberg, chairman, Mrs. Jarnie Chambers, Mrs. Mark Barker, Mrs. Robert Farnara, Mrs. W. G. Robinson and Mrs. Martin Willison. Mrs. Sadie Carroll and Mrs. Casey Schwab were in charge of arrangements."
(Prescott Evening Courier; Monday, May 6, 1940; page 3, column 3.)
The "Verde View" reported that the Community Civic Club had nearly 100 members, with 8 charter members on March 19, 1981. Cottonwood Civic Center's 50th Anniversary in 1989 was celebrated with a plaque and large key listing the architectural firm of Lescher and Mahoney.
A survey in 1999 resulted in the listing of the Cottonwood Commercial Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places on May 18, 2000. The Cottonwood Community Club House was considered eligible for an individual listing partly because it had not been significantly altered since 1940.
(Additional information: The Verde Independent; "Old Town Civic Center to Shine Again;" September 1, 2004.)