It’s been 100 years since “Rawhide Jimmy” Douglas opened the Little Daily Hotel in Jerome.
Now, Lisa Acker, the owner of the former hotel that is now a mansion, said she will mark the milestone with a laser show to share with the public on New Year’s Eve.
The laser lights will shine on the Little Daisy which was built in Jerome’s mining glory days.
She said the best place to watch the laser show will be from the town’s overlook across from the Old Jerome High School on New Year’s Eve from 9 p.m. to midnight.
The hotel was built in 1919 for guests of Douglas and miners who worked in the nearby Little Daisy Mine. The miners slept in 40, 12-by-12-foot-wide bedrooms, while taking eight-hour shifts in bunkbeds. Douglas built it near his own home, which is now the Douglas Mansion at the Jerome State Historic Park.
Miners bathed in gang showers and ate in the common dining room until about 1938 when the mining industry collapsed and the building became vacant, explained Acker.
“They stripped everything,” she said, referring to furniture, woodwork, windows, doors and anything they could sell for salvage.
The building was just a shell in 1959 when William Earl Bell bought the hotel, she said, along with the other four houses on the property.
In 1995, Lisa and her husband, Walter, purchased the Little Daisy and started renovations immediately. Unfortunately, Walter passed away on Sept. 26, 2017, and now Lisa has decided to sell the Little Daisy, with a selling price of $6.2 million.
The couple worked for 10 years on renovating the historic structure, Acker said. Walter and Lisa built everything for the interior since the building was stripped and left in shambles. Walter was a building contractor before moving to Arizona.
While Walter installed hundreds of feet of oak trim-work around the doors and windows, Lisa would stain them. “It is oak and that is exactly what they had in here before,” Acker said. That includes the 54 arch windows that Walter installed in the mansion.
They worked closely with the nearby State Park to determine what the inside of the building looked like before they restored the reception desk, windows, doors, fireplace, lights, glass, benches, tables, the marble bathrooms and “everything that was stolen or sold.”
Walter even rebuilt a wooden phone booth that has a working rotary payphone, where the original crank phone was. The original fireplaces in the mansion are made from slag, the black waste matter separated during the smelting of copper.
A large communal table made from Arizona dark walnut by Walter, sits in the open dining room “as it was before,” she said.
The kitchen, which had to be rebuilt from scratch, has newly constructed large wooden “in-and-out” doors. The old range hood and stove were two things they actually found and restored, she said. The coal room is now a wine-room. Acker still has photos of a totally gutted kitchen prior to renovation.
The walls to the small bedrooms, which the miners shared, were opened up to allow for bigger bedrooms and one master bedroom, Acker said.
The building now has eight bedrooms (four are large), seven marble bathrooms, two staircases, two laundry rooms, central hallways through the house and promenades down both sides of the building. It is 12,000 square feet of interior space and 2,700 square feet in porches, 3,000 of garage and workshop and 9,000 square feet of roof-top.
There are fewer bedrooms now because the top roof of the Little Daisy is gone where many of the small bedrooms were located.
When the couple moved into the hotel, the tile roof had already been removed exposing the third floor of the structure that primarily served as bedrooms for the miners.
They could have put a roof on, but they decided it would make a “great backyard,” Acker said, pointing to the flower and vegetable gardens, a lawn, a cushion-surrounded fire pit, barbecue, an outdoor kitchen, refrigerator, dining table, hot tub, shower, promenade and views of Jerome to the west and Sedona Red Rock Country to the north. It also has a small pond full of goldfish that were peeking out at the Arizona sunshine.
Acker said it took the couple about 10 years to do the renovations. Walter has a workshop in the Little Daisy where dozens of his old work gloves are hung on the wall as a reminder of the sweat equity put into the Little Daisy.
The hotel big news then and now
“Lescher & Kibbey of Phoenix drew the plans for the hotel,” according to The Jerome News newspaper article on Friday, Oct. 5, 1917.
“Architect Royal W. Lescher urged his colleague, architect Leslie J. Mahoney, to move from Los Angeles to Phoenix in 1912. In partnership with John R. Kibbey, they initially organized the architectural firm of Lescher, Kibbey, and Mahoney. The company name was shortened to Lescher and Mahoney. This architectural firm became one of Arizona’s most prolific. James Douglas hired them to work on some of his United Verde Extension Mining Company buildings,” according to the Jerome News, Friday, November 30, 1917
Royal W. Lesher and Leslie J. Mahoney designed many significant buildings in Arizona. Some of their buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the article said.
T. B. Stewart of Phoenix, the contractor who built the James S. Douglas residence now the State Park, was awarded the contract for the new 40-room miners’ hotel to be built for the U. V. Extension company on the hillside just north of the Edith shaft, The Jerome News stated in Oct. 5, 1917.
“Stewart’s bid was $72,250,” the Jerome News article states. “The excavating has already been done by the Extension company… Concrete is to be the principal material used.”
The hotel, which was written up by the Jerome News in 1917, has also received national press recently for being such a unique piece of real estate for its history, architecture and extraordinary renovations, which kept historical detail intact and at the same time allowing it to be a comfortable place to live.
Nationally, Bloomberg News did an article last August with beautiful photos titled “This 40-Room Hotel Is Now a $6.2 Million Mansion. Once a concrete ruin, a relic from Arizona’s gold rush, was converted into a posh private home. Now it’s on sale for the first time.”
Articles on the sale of the Jerome mansion have followed on many other news, internet and television stations.
Pleased how their work turned out
“We didn’t have breaks,” Acker said, pointing out that the couple worked on the building six days a week, “but all we would do is think about it on the other (day),” she said with a smile.
Acker said she is “incredibly” pleased about the way the Little Daisy turned out. “It’s been completed for some time and it’s been wonderful to live here.”
As Acker spoke on Wednesday, a cat meowed and the eerie sound echoed through the large open hallways of the Little Daisy.
Do you have ghosts, Acker was asked by a reporter?
“No,” she responded sounding almost disappointed. “Everybody asks.”
Acker said that while people have looked at the mansion, it’s still on the market. If you are interested in buying the Little Daisy, call Donna Chesler at Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty at 928-301-3004 or 928-282-5966.
Chesler said that is the best way to set up an appointment to see the Little Daisy.
Chesler said the miners who lived at the Little Daisy probably had it better than other miners in town.
“I can’t image they could have a better place to live than this,” Chesler said. “The lucky ones got to live here.”
12 14 Liitle Daisy For Newsp
The former Little Daisy Hotel, now a mansion, is for sale. VVN/Vyto Starinskas