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by Jack D. Wilson   
2009 Rodeo Grand Entry

2009 Rodeo Grand Entry photo by Jack D. Wilson

Folks, it is time to dress western and RODEO!

The Rodeo grounds open two (2) hours before events.

Family Days Discount

Wednesday, June 29, and Thursday, June 30, have been designated “Family Days”.  For $50 two adults and up to four children can get tickets to the rodeo.  This is a discount over our normal prices.  Tickets have to be purchased either by phone (1-866-407-6336) or at our Ticket Office.

Tuesday, June 28
• Happy Hearts Rodeo for Exceptional Children (Prescott Rodeo Grounds), 5 p.m.
• Rodeo Performance, 7:30 p.m. (Daily Courier night)

Wednesday, June 29
• Rodeo Performance, 7:30 p.m. (Wrangler Tough Enough to Wear Pink night – raising funds for breast cancer research)

Thursday, June 30
• Rodeo Performance, 7:30 p.m. (Country Bank night)

Friday, July 1
• Kiwanis Kiddie Parade, 8:30 a.m. (Cortez & Goodwin St.)
• Rodeo Performance, 7:30 p.m. (Jack Daniels night)
• Rodeo Dance – Family night, 8 p.m. – 1 a.m., M&I Bank Parking Lot (303 N. Montezuma)

Saturday, July 2
• Rodeo Performance, 1:30 p.m. (York / Dodge night)
• Rodeo Performance, 7:30 p.m. (Coors / Canyon Distributing night)
• Rodeo Dance – 21 and older, 8 p.m. – 1 a.m., M&I Bank Parking Lot (303 N. Montezuma)

Sunday, July 3
• Cowboy Church (Prescott Rodeo Grounds), 8:30 a.m.
• Prescott Rodeo Days Fine Arts & Crafts Show (Courthouse Plaza), 9 a.m.
Prescott Frontier Days Parade (Courthouse Plaza), 9 a.m. – Theme: Rodeo Pioneers
• Rodeo Performance, 7:30 p.m. (Murphy’s Restaurant night)
• Rodeo Dance – 21 and older, 8 p.m. – 1 a.m., M&I Bank Parking Lot (303 N. Montezuma)

Monday, July 4
• Prescott Rodeo Days Fine Arts & Crafts Show (Courthouse Plaza), 9 a.m.
City of Prescott‘s Fabulous Fourth (Pioneer Park), Noon-10:30 p.m.
• Rodeo Queen Coronation (Prescott Rodeo Grounds), Noon — this is a FREE event
• Rodeo Performance, 1:30 p.m. (Coca-Cola)

Monday, July 5
• Prescott Rodeo Days Fine Arts & Crafts Show (Courthouse Plaza), 9 a.m.

© 2010 by Jack D. Wilson

RockyHorrorPoster

My wife Liz and I remember attending the original stage production of this wild “musical” show over 35 years ago at the Royal Court Theatre in staid London. On Saturday October 23 at 7PM we attended the Lonesome Valley Playhouse’s presentation of Prescott Independent Theatre’s production at the Elks Opera House in what some would say is staid Prescott. I think the pictures of some members of the audience dressed “in character” will dispel that conclusion. The ole town is a changing!

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a cult tradition, some would say the classic cult tradition. It is a parody and a cross between science fiction and B-movie horror films.

The original stage play was transformed into a movie in 1975 and is still being shown at midnight showings around the world. It has a life of its own where people come dressed as their favorite character, several phrases are mirrored by the audience and there are points where things are thrown. That prompted the Elks Opera House to display the following sign at several places:

RockyCautionSign

I talked to Deputy City Manager Laurie Hadley after the Saturday night performance and they did not have to eject anyone during that performance. However, on Friday they did have to eject someone.

The show

Opening

The show opens with a criminologist (Olga Salazar from Jerome) narrating and setting the scene of Brad and Janet getting engaged and taking a drive where their car breaks down. They find themselves lost and with a flat tire on a cold and rainy, late November evening, but Brad remembers a castle they passed a few miles back. And then the fun begins…BradJanet2

At the beginning of the show Brad Majors and Janet Weiss are depicted as “square” innocents, but that would soon change radically.

Musical Numbers

This is a musical and there are several musical numbers. The first was “The Time Warp.” See the Wikipedia entry for a complete synopsis of the stage production and movie: The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Samples from the production

GoodShot1

Brad and Janet soon learn this is no normal castle!

GoodShot2

From one of the musical numbers, doing “The Time Warp.”

GoodShot3

And here we have Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania and his creation Rocky Horror.

The seduction of Janet and Brad

That night Dr. Frank-N-Furter does serial seductions of both Janet then Brad. The dialogue in both seduction scenes is the same.

Brad1 Brad2 Brad3

After his seduction by Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Brad is transformed.

Janet2 Janet1 

After her seduction by Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Janet tries to get it on with Rocky Horror.

GoodShot6

Staid Brad transformed.

GoodShot4

 

GoodShot5

Dr. Frank-N-Furter near the end of the show in the “I’m Going Home” musical number.

Audience pictures

This performance drew a large crowd. The balcony was very popular for those dress “in character” and it was nearly filled. The main floor was about 3/4 full.

Crowd1

Counter help

CounterService

Here we have Joseph Brehm, City of Prescott Management Analyst (black shirt) and Laurie Hadley (Deputy City Manager) working the concession counter. No wine or beer was available (drat) as they are still waiting for approval of their liquor license from the state.

“In character”

There were many (upwards of twenty) audience members dressed “in character” and this is an example:

Lobby1

This is a male dressed in drag as the lead character Dr. Frank-N-Furter.  I shot this during intermission.

Playbill

The cast list, director and producer courtesy of Andrew Johnson-Schmit.

  • BRAD MAJORS – Jayk Boomer
  • JANET WEISS – Valerye Jeffries
  • CRIMINOLOGIST – Olga Salazar
  • FRANK N. FURTER – Christopher Galinski
  • MAGENTA – Danica Jeffries
  • RIFF-RAFF – Jacob d’Armand
  • COLUMBIA – Willa Cowan
  • EDDIE/DR. SCOTT – Toni Rios
  • Directed by Jacob d’Armand
  • Produced by Clyde Neville
Photo credits

All photographs by Jack D. Wilson. Unauthorized use prohibited without prior permission.

Feedback

If you found this article helpful, please leave a comment or forward to a friend. If I missed something that you found along the way, leave a comment and I will try to update the information.

Jack D. Wilson first visited Prescott in 1995 and has been a resident since 2000. He took a sojourn into politics and was the mayor of Prescott Arizona from Nov. 2007 – Nov. 2009. He now writes a couple of blogs and is President of the Prescott Frontier Days Community Service Foundation.

© 2010 by Jack D. Wilson            

In 1864, Prescott Arizona became the territorial capital of Arizona. Today it remains an Arizona capital for antique and collectible hunters. Prescott is a pleasant 2 hours drive 100 miles north of Phoenix. It enjoys a mile high elevation and is normally 15 to 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix.             

It retains its small town ambiance with its central grass-covered and Elm shaded Courthouse Square. World famous Whiskey Row is on one side of the square. The original incarnation of Whiskey Row in a territorial gold mining town was a block long stretch of over 40 saloons in a one-block area on the ground floor with houses of ill repute occupying the second floor of most establishments. Luckily, it gained its name from the saloons rather than Prescott’s soiled doves or ladies of the night.             

The majority of antique shops and malls are on North Cortez Street, which is another street along the square running parallel to Whiskey Row. It is a half block walk from Courthouse Square. Sorry, but you will not find a mega antique mall in Prescott with several hundred dealers and rows of locked glass cases. This is antique hunting like it used to be. If your idea of great antique hunting is to get up close to some real antiques and collectibles then you will find Prescott to be an enjoyable experience.             

You can find a variety of antiques and collectibles in Prescott and which shop or mall you like best depends on what you collect and whether they happen to have what you are looking for when you are there. I have collected antiques for over 40 years and I have been going to Prescott antique establishments since 1995. I appreciate high-quality antiques in several categories and have designation several shops and malls in the following listing with the Prescott Rocks! “Best of Prescott Picks” designation:             

Best Prescott Pick

Best Prescott Pick

 

Besides the individual shops and malls, Prescott hosts antique shows, the next is: Antiques on the Square, on the downtown Courthouse Square, Sunday, September 26, 9am – 5pm – Free admission.            

Scenes from Antiques on the Square

Pleasant scene

Pleasant scene

 

Crowd at the show

Crowd at the show

 

Take me home

Take me home

 

Shopping

Shopping

 

Best Prescott Pick

Best Prescott Pick

 

In terms of full disclosure, my wife is the show manager.  Fifty plus dealers feature real antiques (no crafts). Held on the downtown Courthouse with its grass lawns under the shade of stately Elm trees. Call Liz at 928-899-6438 for details or view the ShowUp.com listing at http://bit.ly/aE9h3t. This show is held in June and September and it draws antique enthusiasts from out-of-town (buses typically travel from Las Vegas and Sun City to attend this show).  For people moving to Prescott with an interest in antiques, there are three Quester groups. These are antique study groups. Thumb Butte Questers sponsor Antiques on the Square and will have a booth at the show where you can get information on the Questers.          

Insider’s Guide to Prescott Antiques from A to Z

Have you thought about visiting Prescott for a day of Antiquing? Do you need a guide to the antique and collectible shops in Prescott? Maybe something a little better than the typical extraction from the Yellow Pages listings where you find some of the shops closed when you get there.      

Here is an Insider’s Guide to single owner shops and malls from a collector that lives in Prescott and who frequents these establishments. I have tried to focus on shops and malls that feature antiques and collectibles. Hence, I have not listed thrift stores, second-hand furniture stores, etc. I have also included information about places to eat or quench your thirst along the way.           

A          

Off The Square Antiques

Off The Square Antiques

 

Tin Toys in the window

Tin Toys in the window

 

Antiques off the Square and Lost in Sports, 145 N. Cortez, 928-778-1040. Web site www.lostinsports.com Open 7 days a week.           

Arizona Territory Antiques

Arizona Territory Antiques

 

Best Prescott Pick

Best Prescott Pick

 

          

Arizona Territory Antiques, 211 West Aubrey ST. This is a single owner shop with loads of quality small antiques. I always like to be tempted when I am shopping for antiques and this is a shop that will tempt most collectors. For example, the last time I was there a case of iridescent art glass including Tiffany Favrile and Steuben Aurene that caught my eye, including a very large Steuben Aurene vase. I also saw an Orange Julep syrup dispenser, lots or art glass, etc. Herb and Lila Cook are the owners. In Prescott for 28 years, they also conduct estate sales. 928-445-4656 Open Wed-Sat 10-4         

Avalon Antiques

Avalon Antiques

 

Avalon Antiques, 140 ½ N Cortez, 928-778-0481 Unique and fun antiques and collectibles. Great prices, Very eclectic. Open daily 10-5.      

 B      

Battermans Auction and Gallery in Prescott Arizona

Battermans Auction and Gallery

 

Batterman’s Auction, LLC, 400 W Gurley, 928-445-6787 In addition to being a full service auction company, they have a gallery and gunroom, open Mon-Sat 9-5:30, Sunday by chance. Web site www.battermans.com          

Bayberry's Antique Dolls in Prescott Arizona

Bayberry's Antique Dolls

 

Some of Bayberry's dolls in Prescott Arizona

Bayberry's Dolls

 

    

 
Best Prescott Pick

Best Prescott Pick

 

Bayberry’s Antique Dolls,   

442 S Montezuma St Suite A, (928) 445-8559. Open 11-4 Wed-Sat or by appointment. Proprietor is Diane D. Vigne, email is dianesdolls@hotmail.com, contact 928-308-3644 Diane has over 25 years experience buying & selling dolls! This shop specializes in dolls and doll repairs but also carries some interesting antique smalls. Web site: http://www.bayberrysantiquedolls.com/        

Bunkhouse Trading Co. in Prescott Arizona

Bunkhouse Trading Co.

 

Bunkhouse Trading Co., 135 N. Cortez, 928-848-2948 Old and new here, both antiques and crafts. Antiques are in the rear of the store.          

C          

Crowded Attic Antiques in Prescott Arizona

Crowded Attic Antiques

 

Selection of antique phones at Crowed Attic Antiques in Prescott Arizona

Selection of antique phones

 

Crowded Attic, 131 N. Cortez, 928-443-7517 Ladies vintage clothing, car memorabilia & 1/18th scale model airplanes. Mon-Sat 10-5, Sun 11-4      

Cross Creek Antiques sign in Prescott Arizona

Cross Creek Antiques

 

Cut glass lamp at Cross Creek Antiques in Prescott Arizona

Cut glass lamp

 

Reverse painted lamp at Cross Creek Antiques in Prescott Arizona

Reverse painted lamp

 

Best Prescott Pick

Best Prescott Pick

 

Cross Creek Antiques, LLC, 1125 W Gurley, 928-776-0035 or 928-776-7220. Specializing in art glass, porcelain, Arts & Crafts Era pottery, prints, furniture, mirror, etc. Circa 1830-1970. Hours: Fri-Mon 10-5:30, closed Tues & wed Thursday by chance or appointment 928-776-7220. The owner is Ed Leware who is a member of one of the three Prescott Quester chapters and can answer your questions about Questers.          

D          

Deja Vu Antiques Sidewalk Sign in Prescott Arizona

Deja Vu Sidewalk Sign

 

Déjà Vu Antique Mall, 134 N. Cortez, 928-445-6732. The owners are Diana/Linda.          

E          

End Of Trail Antiques in Prescott Arizona

End Of Trail Antiques

 

End of Trail Antiques, 107 E. Gurley, 928-771-2759. Proprietor is Jim Bethe. Open Wed-Sunday 2:00-6:00pm.         

G          

Gypsy Street Antiques in Prescott Arizona

Gypsy Street Antiques

 

Gypsy Street Antiques, 133 N. Cortez, 928-445-3176 A caravan of antique vintage and retro furniture, jewelry, pottery, books, old Christmas and salvage. Open 7 days a week.           

K          

Keystone Antiques in Prescott Arizona

Keystone Antiques

 

    

 
Keystone Antiques Interior in Prescott Arizona

Keystone Interior

 

Best Prescott Pick

Best Prescott Pick

 

Keystone Antiques, 127 N. Cortez St. 928-445-1757. A multi-dealer mall that mall features high quality antiques and collectibles.   

M   

Merchandise Mart Antique Mall in Prescott Arizona

Merchandise Mart Antique Mall

 

Merchandise Mart Antique Mall is located toward the North end of the row at 205 N Cortez (just past Murphy’s Restaurant), and features 15,000-sq. ft. of antiques and collectibles. It is the largest antique mall in Prescott and has 95 dealers. The owners are Jeanne & Jim Antonius. 928-776-1728 Web site prescottantiquestores.com Mon-Sat 10-5 Sunday 11-4  Email: merchmart@cableone.net 

Mid-Century Madness antiques in Prescott Arizona

Mid-Century Madness

 

Mid-Century-Madness, 140 N. Cortez, 928-778-0481.  Mid-Century and Danish modern furniture, textiles, art, lighting and accessories. Open daily 10-5.          

O   

Ogg's Hogan in Prescott Arizona

Ogg's Hogan

 

Burris Silver Saddle at Ogg's Hogan in Prescott Arizona

Burris Silver Saddle on right

 

     

Navajo Jewelry at Ogg's Hogan in Prescott Arizona

Navajo Jewelry

 

     

 
Best Prescott Pick

Best Prescott Pick

 

Ogg’s Hogan, 111 N. Cortez, 928-443-9856.  The owner is Jeff Ogg. Do you like old southwest authentic Native American jewelry? You will love this place. Open 7 days a week. “Best of Prescott Pick” for their old Native American jewelry.               

P           

Pennington's Antiques in Prescott Arizona

Pennington's Antiques

 

Pennington’s Antiques, 117 N. Cortez, 928-445-3748.  A 7,000-sq. ft. antique mall. This is a large multi-dealer mall and it has an eclectic assortment of antique and collectibles.  The owner is Belinda Trumbo. You might find a bargain here as I have in my antique pursuits.          

R     

Red Lamp Antiques in Prescott Arizona

Red Lamp Antiques Best Prescott Pick

 

Best Prescott Pick

Best Prescott Pick

 

    

    

   

Red Lamp Antiques, 121 N. Cortez, 928-445-7899. Glassware, furniture, primitives, silver plate, sterling, napkin rings, pickle castors, R. S. Prussia – 58 years in antique business. Open every day.      

Food and drink

   

 

Grandmas Bakery in Prescott Arizona

Grandmas Bakery

 

Grandma’s Bakery is located at 207 W. Gurley just off Montezuma. It is in the lower level space of the Hotel St. Michael’s. If you like fancy baked deserts such as Napoleons and Éclairs then do not miss this.
 

Kendalls in Prescott Arizona

Kendalls

 

Kendall‘s is located at 113 S. Cortez and features Fifties music, décor and value. Made to order burgers, fries and an old-fashioned soda fountain.
 

Closet Cafe in Prescott Arizona

Closet Cafe

 

The Closet Café is inside the Downtown Prescott Inn at 129 N. Cortez. Breakfast starts at $2.50 and lunch starts at $5.00.
 

Raven Cafe in Prescott Arizona

Raven Cafe

 

 
 
 
Best Prescott Pick

Best Prescott Pick

 

The Raven Café is located at 142 N. Cortez (web site at http://www.ravencafe.com/ ). Breakfast, lunch and dinner, 35 beers on taps with 135 beers in bottles. Free wi-fi. Check out the upstairs patio area.   

The Palace in Prescott Arizona

The Palace

 

 

Best Prescott Pick

Best Prescott Pick

 

The Palace is located at 120 S. Montezuma on historic Whiskey Row and is a bar and restaurant. If you can’t eat there at least stick your head in to check out the décor. The movie Junior Bonner shot some of its scenes inside and there is a very large Junior Bonner wall mural in the back portion.  

Additional Information

Here is a link to the history of Whiskey Row in Prescott Arizona. It also contains links to many of the businesses on the row Whiskey Row History Prescott Arizona.           

Photo credits   

All photographs by Jack D. Wilson. Unauthorized use prohibited without prior permission.   

Feedback           

If you found this guide helpful, please leave a comment or forward to a friend. If I missed something that you found along the way, leave a comment and I will try to update the information.           

Phoenix & Consolidated Art Glass 1926-1980           

Jack D. Wilson first visited Prescott in 1995 and has been a resident since 2000. He has collected antiques for over 40 years selling a landmark collection of Millersburg Carnival Glass in 1982. He is the author of “Phoenix & Consolidated Art Glass 1926-1980” and was an advisor for both Phoenix and Consolidated glass categories in Schroeder’s Antique Price Guide for over ten years. He is a founder of the Phoenix & Consolidated Glass Collectors Club – visit their Facebook page: Phoenix & Consolidated Art Glass He also collects Muncie Pottery. He took a sojourn into politics and was the mayor of Prescott Arizona from Nov. 2007 – Nov. 2009.    

© 2010 Parker Anderson and Jack D. Wilson   

Elks Opera House restored interior - 7-16-2010 - photo by Jack D. Wilson

Elks Opera House restored interior - 7-16-2010 - photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

Elks Opera House – reaching the twin pinnacles

This is the seventh and final installment in this series about the Elks Opera House in Prescott Arizona. The series opened with a capsule history of the founding of Prescott in 1864. The previous installment covered the restoration the Elks Opera House has undergone. It now has reached twin pinnacles, representing the best of the past and the best of the present. The best of the past is the opulent and painstaking restoration it underwent. The best of the present are the hidden innards that allow for productions of any kind. That brings us to a point of commencement on this journey of the Elks Opera House. When it was all over the Elks Opera House Foundation raised over two-million dollars in support of the restoration. The outpouring of public support speaks volumes about the importance of the Elks in this community.   

Point of commencement

It is somewhat bittersweet to reach the final installment in this series, so I would like to suggest this is not the end of our journey, but a new beginning. I used the term “point of commencement” to describe where the Elks is today. It is at the beginning of a new journey. The Elks building is a condominium with two pieces. The Elks Opera House, which is owned by the City of Prescott and the remainder of the building, owned by a law firm. The City of Prescott would like to get out of the theater management business. The law firm that owns the rest of the building would like to sell their interest. In my opinion, the ideal situation for the Elks Opera House Foundation is to own and manage the entire building, because then it would be financially viable and sustainable.   

A call to action

Now that the restoration of the Elks Opera House is complete, it is time to finish the rest of the journey. The Elks Opera House Foundation needs to raise the funds to buy the portion of the Elks building owned by the law firm. The foundation has been raising funds for years and some of the board members could use some help. Prescott has been a retirement destination since the 1990’s Money Magazine article brought it to prominence. If you retired here and have played golf for a couple of years and your inner heart tells you “there is more for you to do,” you may be a good candidate to help the foundation.   

Previous articles in this series

This series of articles covered the history of the Elks Opera House, which has been renovated and restored at a cost exceeding $2-million. The renovated Elks Opera House is spectacular and represents a unique piece of Americana. Published posts in the series include:   

Elks Opera House – A comprehensive history of one of Prescott’s gems   

Early History of the Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House   

Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House 1910-1942   

Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House – Later History 1943-1980   

Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House – Turmoil 1981-1999   

Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House – Resurrection and preservation 2000-2008   

Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House – Restoration par excellence (2009-2010)   

If you have fond memories of the Elks, we encourage you to share those via a comment. Also, please let your friends know about this series of articles about a true gem in Prescott Arizona.   

Parker Anderson is the official Historian of the Elks Opera House. He spent thousands of hours compiling all known bookings in the first 100 years of the Opera House.   

Jack Wilson is the former Mayor of Prescott Arizona. He has had a long interest in history having founded two neighborhood historic societies in Chicago. He was instrumental in providing the funds that allowed “Bill the Elk” to return from Prescott Valley to his rightful perch atop the Elks Opera House. As president of the Thumb Butte Questers, he coordinated the fund-raising match with Prescott Quester chapters for the Arizona Heritage Fund grant that was used to restore the inner or second lobby.

© 2010 Parker Anderson and Jack D. Wilson  

The prior installment covered the period of “Resurrection and preservation,” 2000-2008. This was when the City of Prescott purchased the Elks Opera House (as a condominium portion of the Elks building) and the Elks Opera House Foundation was organized by a group of Prescott citizens in late 2002 as a non-profit, tax-exempt Arizona corporation. The initial steps at restoring the Elks Opera House occurred; the restoration of the outer and inner lobbies and the return of “Bill the Elk” to his perch atop the Elks Opera House. These seminal efforts were important forbearers of the much larger and comprehensive restoration effort covered in this installment.  

Before and after the restoration

Before the restoration

2006 Elks Opera House Interior before restoration

2006 Elks Opera House Interior before restoration

 

Shown above is a photograph of the Elks Opera House before restoration, circa 2006. Note the “accordion folds” to stage left and stage right covering where the Opera boxes used to be. The years of “modernization” had not been kind to this grand old lady. However, better days were coming with a restoration of the Elks Opera House. This was a major restoration involving almost every aspect of the theater and it could not be done on a piecemeal basis. It required that the Elks Opera House be shut down for the duration of the restoration project, what thespians call the “house going dark.”  

After the restoration

Elks Opera House after restoration -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Elks Opera House after restoration -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

I took the picture above on Monday, July 19, 2010. Final cleanup and equipment testing was underway. There had been a problem with the stage grand drape and it was still in New York being modified but the stage grand valance was in place. The eight Opera Boxes look fantastic. Everywhere you look there are little surprises, as the attention to detail during this restoration was outstanding. We will see many examples of that as we proceed to look in detail at the actual restoration.  

House “goes dark”

I was the mayor of Prescott Arizona when the Elks Opera House ‘went dark” on July 1, 2009 to begin a yearlong restoration process; it reopens on July 24, 2010 with a gala celebration featuring selections from the Phoenix Opera. Prodigious fund raising by the Elks Opera House foundation raised more than $1.7 million for this restoration. An early donation of $1-million dollars from the Harold James Family Trust kicked the fund raising into high gear (the trust later added an additional $250,000 donation).  

April 12, 2010 Former Prescott Mayor Jack Wilson and Mic Fenech, City of Prescott Administrative Services Manager, inspecting new Opera Boxes -- photo by Kerry Wilson

 

I was involved with historic preservation and restoration for nearly 20 years and this project exemplifies the painstaking planning and attention to details required for a great restoration. I closely monitored the restoration process and the results are truly breathtaking. The end product will surprise many Prescott residents who have fond memories of the Elks as a movie theater; hence I thought the title “Restoration par excellence” was fitting.  

Restoration highlights

This restoration brings the Elks back to its splendor when it opened in 1905. I have tried to present a sampling of the restoration highlights in this article; however, you cannot fully appreciate what has been accomplished until you actually see it. Please note that the following photos were taken on July 16 and July 19 while final restoration was still in progress.  

Restoring the original marquee

Marquee restored - photo by Jack D. Wilson

Marquee restored -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

When the newer marquee was removed, the original marquee was found underneath – that was a pleasant surprise.  

Removing façade over exterior and restoring ticket booth

Restored ticket booth -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Restored ticket booth -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

Here is the restored ticket booth that gives a hint of the restoration inside.  

Exterior surfaces uncovered during restoration -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Exterior surfaces uncovered during restoration -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

When the modern façade was removed, the original exterior façade was discover intact – again, another pleasant surprise.  

New plush carpet in the lobby and stairway to the balcony.

New lobby carpeting -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

New lobby carpeting -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

New carpeting was install throughout the Elks. Here are the lobbies with the stairway to the balcony. This is excellent quality carpet with excellent padding.  

Balcony

Entrance to balcony with drapes -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Entrance to balcony with drapes -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

Here we see the balcony entrance through a set of plush drapes. Note the padded top on the front balcony rail.  

Wider shot of the completed balcony -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Wider shot of the completed balcony -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

The balcony was near collapse when the restoration began. Haley Construction shored it up with steel beams.  

Where the balcony boxes stairway used to be -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Where the balcony boxes stairway used to be -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

Originally there were stairways to the balcony Opera Boxes. These are long gone, but you can see where they were.  

Restoring Opera Boxes

Four of the eight Opera Boxes -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Four of the eight Opera Boxes -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

An opera house needs opera boxes and now it has them; the eight opera boxes including the Elks head decoration and fancy fringes have been restored. Each set of two boxes will have an attendant at performances allowing you to order refreshments of your choice.  

Getting new seats in the house

Old main floor seats - photo by Jack D. Wilson

Old main floor seats - photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

One of the common complaints about the Elks before this restoration was about the uncomfortable seats. I think people will enjoy the new seats, I tried one and they are quite comfortable.  

New main floor seats - photo by Jack D. Wilson

New main floor seats - photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

New main floor seats - frame detail -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

New main floor seats - frame detail -- photo by Jack D. Wilson


Tin ceiling, stenciling and decorative plasterwork

Arch with tin ceiling, stenciling and decorative plaster -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Arch with tin ceiling, stenciling and decorative plaster -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

This article is called “Restoration par excellence” and I attribute much of that to painstaking planning that proceeded the restoration and an absolute focus on getting the details correct. This is quite evident in the restoration of the beautiful tin ceiling, stenciling and ornamental plasterwork throughout the theater. In this era of planned obsolescence, here we have a celebration the best in handcrafted details. 

Outside face of upper Opera Box -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Outside face of upper Opera Box -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

Above to the right is a molded decorative plaster column with gold embellishment next to the Opera Box. On the Opera Box your eye is drawn to the Elks head, which is surrounded by additional decorative plaster with gold embellishment. But look closely at the bottom edge of the Opera Box – there are green tassels running along the edge! 

Column capital with gold embellishment -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

Column capital with gold embellishment -- photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

Infrastructure Improvements

Besides the painstaking restoration, attention was paid to ensure equipment and facilities for productions are state of the art.  

  1. New steel beam supports for the balcony which was close to collapse when the restoration began.
  2. Updating the grid work on the stage
  3. Updating the lighting and sound equipment. The sound system upgrade includes a 9” under-floor channel from the alley behind the house to the stage and to a sound control console. That will allow national acts to park a sound trailer in the alley and connect through the channel. Provisions were also made for hanging large speakers in front of the stage for such acts.
  4. Installing a sprinkler system.
  5. Providing state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment to support meetings and conferences. In addition to dual digital projection facilities this includes High Definition TV upload and download and Internet access.
  6. Two flat screen monitors in the lobby, one at the balcony stairs and one at the concession stand, to display announcements and messages.

Thank You to the workers that made this happen

There were over seventy people involved in the 13-month restoration project and it is impossible to name everyone, but here is a big Thank You to the people that labored for over a year to actually do the restoration:  

  • Local architectural firm Otwell Associates Architects (Bill Otwell owner) was responsible for the overall planning with Wayne Sanford as the Project Architect.
  • Local contractor Haley Construction managed the construction, with Project Manager Lee Vega overseeing the day-to-day work.
  • The restoration of the intricate plaster moldings, stenciling work and faux finishes was due to two firms:
  • Evergreene, a nationally known historic preservation firm and
  • Local firm Custom Surface Innovation Inc. (owners Shari Stura and Luis Sanjurjo). The tri-layered vinyl stage backdrops are the work of Custom Surface Innovation Inc. I talked to one of the principal of that firm, Shari Stura, while shooting photographs of the restoration and found out she moved to Prescott from Chicago, as I had.
    • Local firm A&B Signs replicated the replacement light ring from a partial photograph. Prescott native Perry Wieweck is president of A&B Signs.
    • Dawn Castaneda, Elks Opera House Manager
    • Mic Fenech, Administrative Services Manager, City of Prescott 

And we need to thank the Elks Opera House Foundation and the donors that allowed this Prescott gem to be restored to perfection 

Plaque "History Beckons" with major donors acknowledged - photo by Jack D. Wilson

Plaque "History Beckons" with major donors acknowledged - photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

This is the sixth in a series about the Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House in Prescott Arizona. We hope that you have enjoyed this comprehensive history of the Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House. In the next and final installment, we will cover the future of the Elks Opera House.  

If you have fond memories of the Elks, we encourage you to share those via a comment. Also, please let your friends know about this series of articles about a true gem in Prescott Arizona.  

About the authors  

Parker Anderson is the official Historian of the Elks Opera House. He spent thousands of hours compiling all known bookings in the first 100 years of the Opera House.  

Jack Wilson is the former Mayor of Prescott Arizona. He has had a long interest in history having founded two neighborhood historic societies in Chicago. He was instrumental in providing the funds that returned “Bill the Elk” from Prescott Valley to his rightful perch atop the Elks Opera House. As president of the Thumb Butte Questers, he coordinated the fund raising match with Prescott Quester chapters for the Arizona Heritage Fund grant that was used to restore the inner or second lobby. 

© 2010 Parker Anderson and Jack D. Wilson   

The prior installment covered the period of “Turmoil,” 1981-1999 – a turbulent time which saw many changes and challenges calling into question the very existence of the Elks Opera House. A tipping point was reached when the City of Prescott purchased the Elks Opera House (as a condominium portion of the Elks building) in February 2001 from the Arizona Community Foundation, paying $250,000, in a bid to preserve the historic landmark and ensure its continued use. The Elks Opera House Foundation was organized by a group of Prescott citizens in late 2002 as a non-profit, tax-exempt Arizona corporation. Article 1 of the incorporation document states:   

“The character of the affairs which the corporation initially intends to conduct includes, but is not limited to , fundraising for the benefit of the Elks Opera House and Building, 121 East Gurley Street, Prescott, Arizona; restoration of the Elks Opera House and Building; educating the public regarding performing arts, cultural and economic values; contracting with various entities for rental operation of space within the building; and any other non-profit functions which may benefit the building, the theater space and the foundation.”   

Current foundation board members include: John Olsen, Chairman, Ralph Weiger, Vice-Chairman, Elisabeth Ruffner, Secretary, Arnold Gray, Treasurer, Cathy Church, Maxine Dilliahunty, Marilyn “Dinny” Henze, Gail Mangham, Debra Matthews, Russell J. Parker, Anthony Reynolds, Frank Sente and Paul Wulff.     

“Bill the Elk” – How he got his name

The Elk that sits proudly atop the Elks Opera House has always been called “Bill the Elk.” However, nobody knew why he had that name, but that mystery has been solved. It took two pieces of information to solve that puzzle. The first was discovered during the renovation process in 2010.   

Welcome Bill Cloth Banner

Welcome Bill Cloth Banner - Photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

When this banner was found, the original thought was it was used to welcome the “Elk” statute. But Dawn Castaneda, Manager of the Elks Opera House did some research on the Internet and found out this is the standard greeting for all Elks members. Hence, the Elk statute atop the Opera house is called “Bill the Elk.”   

At the 100th Anniversary Celebration for the Elks Opera House, Elisabeth Ruffner asked me to purchase a new chair for $500-. I told Elisabeth a chair was not of interest, but that I was interested in bringing the original “Bill the Elk” back to Prescott where it belonged from Prescott Valley. I pledged up to $10,000- to help make that happen. 

It took almost two more years, but it did happen. A replacement Elk was purchased for the B.P.O. Elks Lodge 330 in Prescott Valley and “Bill the Elk” was removed and taken to Bronzesmith in Prescott Valley for restoration.   

Oct. 6, 2006 Removing Bill from the Elks Lodge #330 Photo by Jack D. Wilson

Oct. 6, 2006 Removing Bill from the Elks Lodge #330 Photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

Ed Reilly, owner of Bronzesmith, inspected “Bill” and found out he had been used for target practice as there were several bullet holes in his copper-skinned body that needed repair. He also needed to add strength to the antlers mounting and to repair water damage to the legs. “Bill” the Elk is not cast bronze as many people suspected, but pressed sheet copper (the same as the Statue of Liberty). Shane Whitcher, a metal finisher with Bronzesmith, repaired fourteen (14) bullet holes in the statue.   

Ed Reilly of Bronzesmith with "Bill" after repairs. Photo by Jack D. Wilson

Ed Reilly of Bronzesmith with "Bill" after repairs. Photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

“Bill” the Elk was returned to his rightful perch atop the Elks Opera House with a festive red scarf and was lit for the first time for the Acker Music Festival on Friday, December 8, 2006. Everyone involved in this effort contributed their services or money.   

Janet Napolitano honored those involved with a 2007 Governor’s Heritage Preservation Honor Award for the Return of the 1905 Elk Statue to the Elks Opera House.   

2007 Governor’s Heritage Preservation Honor Award

2007 Governor’s Heritage Preservation Honor Award - Photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

Early Restoration

The Elks Opera House Foundation was instrumental in raising funds for restoration of the outer lobby. The inner lobby was restored with funds from an $40,000- Arizona Heritage grant that was matched by the four Prescott Questers chapters.   

This is the fifth in a series about the Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House in Prescott Arizona. In the next installment, we will cover the period of restoration in the period 2009-2010.   

If you have fond memories of the Elks, we encourage you to share those via a comment. Also, please let your friends know about this series of articles about a true gem in Prescott Arizona.   

About the authors   

Parker Anderson is the official Historian of the Elks Opera House. He spent thousands of hours compiling all known bookings in the first 100 years of the Opera House.   

Jack Wilson is the former Mayor of Prescott Arizona. He has had a long interest in history having founded two neighborhood historic societies in Chicago. He was instrumental in providing the funds that allowed “Bill the Elk” to return from Prescott Valley to his rightful perch atop the Elks Opera House.   

by Jack D. Wilson, Foundation President  

2009 Rodeo Grand Entry

2009 Rodeo Grand Entry photo by Jack D. Wilson

 

Prescott Frontier Days® World’s Oldest Rodeo is steeped in history, but lacks a Rodeo Museum to showcase, celebrate and share our 123-year history with the world. We have rodeo artifacts displayed at Smoki Museum today, along with other rodeo artifacts and memorabilia at Sharlot Hall and Phippen Museums. The Prescott Frontier Days® Community Service Foundation believes Prescott should have its own Rodeo Museum and is raising funds for that. We have established a fund-raising target of $500,000.  

Selected Rodeo Museums – Why Not Us?

  • Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum
  • Days of ’76 Museum, Deadwood, South Dakota
  • Dublin Rodeo Heritage Museum, Dublin, Texas
  • California Rodeo Heritage Museum, Salinas, CA
  • Grant County Ranch & Rodeo Museum, John Day, OR
  • Sidney Rodeo Museum, Sidney, Iowa
  • Tri-State Rodeo Museum, Madison, Iowa
  • Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame, Fort Worth, TX

How you can help

The Prescott Frontier Days® Community Service Foundation has started a campaign to raise funds for a rodeo museum in Prescott Arizona. We developed a tri-fold brochure on the foundation and its goals and passed these out at a foundation table at all eight 2010 rodeo performances. This was the first time the foundation had a table at the rodeo – we were there to raise awareness about the foundation and our efforts to raise funds for a rodeo museum.  

After the rodeo is over, foundation members will be developing a brochure specifically aimed at soliciting funds for a rodeo museum. We expect to have that brochure ready by September 2010. That brochure will be used as part of a major effort at fund-raising for a rodeo museum.  

However, if you want to support a rodeo museum you can make a donation now. The Prescott Frontier Days® Community Service Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) IRS qualified non-profit trust. All donations appreciated, whether $5 or $500,000, we can use the help.  

Donations should be made payable to:  

Prescott Frontier Days® Community Service Foundation  

And mailed to  

Prescott Frontier Days® Community Service Foundation
P. O. Box 706
Prescott, AZ 86302-0706

Please include you name and address so that we can properly acknowledge your donation. If you have a question or need additional information, call the foundation president at (928) 445-5137.

© 2010 Parker Anderson and Jack D. Wilson     

Courtesy Chris Baker via stock.xchng 1238327

Courtesy Chris Baker via stock.xchng 1238327

Update note: The power of the Internet and blogs by citizen journalists has proved itself again. After this installment was originally published, emails were received first from Roger Pearsall and then from Ron Swartz, partners and founders of Timberline Productions. They provided additional information about their involvement in the renovation of the Elks, including a 1982 brochure for the Gala Re-Opening that we had not seen before. Roger and Ron rented a building on Union Street owned by Don Head that was directly behind the Elks. That building housed Timberline Production while it was in Prescott. It grew into a nationally recognized corporate events and presentation business based in Phoenix with 150 employees at one time Thank you Roger and Ron for sharing your part in the history of the Elks Opera House.

This installment is called “Turmoil” as the period from 1981-1999 was turbulent and saw many changes and challenges where the very existence of the Elks Opera House was called into question. But, before we get into that period of time, let us flash back to one of the events that was a precursor for the turmoil – the move of “Bill the Elk” to Prescott Valley.

Removal of “Bill the Elk”

“Bill” was removed 1971 and taken to the Elks Club, B.P.O.E. #330 when they moved to their new building in Prescott Valley. He was destined to stay in Prescott Valley for 35 years before his return to Prescott. A future installment will go into detail about the return, restoration and reinstallation of “Bill the Elk” atop the Elks Opera House.

New Management

After the long-time manager Claude Cline retired in 1980, owners Don Head and Phil Toci signed with a group called Timberline Productions to take over management of the Elks Opera House. Timberline continued to run the Elks as a movie theater until very early 1982 (January or February), when Don Head and Phil Toci announced they were going to bring back live entertainment full-time.

In a January 19, 2011 email to Parker Anderson, Ronald Swartz relates the involvement of Timberline Productions with the Elks Opera House:

“My partner, Roger Pearsall, and I had expressed our interest in the theatre as a historic site to owners Don Head and Phil Toci. Don approached us to help them return the theatre to operating condition so that motion pictures could once again be shown. Also, it was Don Head’s longer term desire to bring live professional theatre to Prescott. We agreed to assist with the renovation and the replacement of the motion picture equipment. Bill Otwell (Otwell & Associates) was brought in to oversee the rehab. 

The lobby was reconfigured with a new concession stand and new rear entrance to the auditorium. Restrooms were moved and rebuilt. The projection booth was upgraded, additional power provided for new projectors and film platters. Rigging in the stage house was re-assessed. A new main curtain and projection screen were installed by Curran Productions of Los Angeles (The winch and rigging for the chandelier were also installed at that time). The theatre interior was repainted and the seats reupholstered. House lighting was upgraded with replica period brass fixtures. Upon completion, the theatre was re-opened as the Elks Opera House. Timberline Productions managed the operation of the theatre as a movie theatre for a period of approximately two years. The financing as well as the direction of the renovation was in the hands of the owners, Head & Toci.

In the fall of 1981, Don Head expressed his desire to move to live theatre. The role of Timberline Productions in the Elks Opera House changed to that of technical advisors. Don Head created the Prescott Center for the Performing Arts as a non-profit organization to run the theatre and establish a live theatre season. He hired Gilbert Laurence from Los Angeles to be Managing Director. Laurence hired the Megaw Theatre, Inc. of Northridge CA to stage a season of plays that included Romantic Comedy by Bernard Slade, The Rainmaker by Horton Foote, The Corn is Green by Emlyn Williams and the musical, Company by Stephen Sondheim. These were all first-class productions with scenery, lighting and professional equity-waver casts. The productions were well received by those who saw them but alas, the top ticket price of ten dollars was a little steep for the locals who complained “Why spend 10 bucks to see people we don’t know when we can go to the Fine Arts and for 4 bucks see all of our friends in Music Man and the HS band will perform as well.” Who can counter an argument like that. Other lesser groups were booked with similar results. There were a couple of fine classical concerts that performed in the Elks that fall with one being a performance of the Phoenix Symphony (They raved about the acoustics).

Timberline Productions was not active in the management or booking of the Elks Opera House after the establishment of the Prescott Center for the Performing arts.”

The Prescott Center for the Performing Arts were fine people who had the best of intentions, but they booked top quality professional before they had the money to pay for them–they counted on advance ticket sales to bring in this money, and when the ticket sales did not materialize, disaster hit.  The acts cancelled in droves, and the stewards took to holding rummage sales in a desperate bid to raise money. Acts that did perform included the noted actor Kevin McCarthy playing Harry Truman in a one-man show, GIVE ‘EM HELL, HARRY! Also the Sons of the Pioneers performed. However, many shows cancelled because they were not paid, including Vincent Price who was going to appear live, and did not and a professional tour company of MAN OF LA MANCHA also cancelled.

New Ownership

While this was going on, ownership of the theater changed again.  Don Head and Phil Toci sold the Elks to the Arizona Community Foundation.  Simultaneously, this was when the Elks building was divided into two separate properties, condominium style. The Arizona Community Foundation went looking for new stewards to manage the Elks.  Yavapai College stepped forward and took over management until 1992, when they built their own performance hall.  Then Prescott College managed the Elks until 1999.  In a July 24, 1994 Daily Courier article, reporter Karen Despain commented that:

“Kristi Edwards is the Elks Theater General Manager. She emphasizes the perennial “community theater” orientation of the Elks Theater  …present day productions feature a spectrum of Prescott College Programs, the Cowboy Poets, a dancers’ workshop recital each May, at least one Prescott Fine Arts Association event a year, the Prescottones, an actors workshop and, of course, the Arizona Jamboree musical shows during the summer months, Edwards said.”

During the tenure of both colleges, the Elks Opera House hosted a wide variety of entertainments, both professional and locally produced.

90th Anniversary

On July 24, 1994 Karen Despain was working as a reporter for the Daily Courier and wrote the article “Elks Theatre to celebrate 90th anniversary (Landmark ‘opera house’ is grande dame of Prescott community performances).” The story chronicled an anniversary party planned for February 18, 1995:

“The Soiree will begin with a champagne reception and dinner at the Hassayampa Inn.  Then, celebrants will cross Gurley Street, where they will be treated to a stage play. Dessert and coffee with the cast after the performance will cap this momentous event.”

Courier reporter Lauren Millette on September 22, 1995 wrote “Elks Theater plans beer tasting benefit” which quoted Kristi Edwards, Elks Theater manager stating

“Approximately 50 of America’s finest microbrews and classic beers from all over the world will be served as a way of raising funds to preserve and repair the roughly 100-year old theater.”

On April 30, 1999 Daily Courier reporter Sandy Moss wrote an article “Elks Theater feels its age” that detailed the failing systems, including the boiler and lighting at the Elks.

Prescott College back out

The Daily Courier ran an editorial on December 21, 1999 “Community needs to rally to Elks Theater” Which noted:

“Prescott College, which has managed the historic Elks Theater for the past seven years, has turned backed that responsibility to the owner, the Arizona Community Foundation. The foundation is offering the theater for lease or for sale.”     

As this installment draws to a close, the Elks teetered on the edge of total collapse; however, that changes in our next installment.

This is the fourth in a series about the Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House in Prescott Arizona. In the next installment, we will cover the period of “Resurrection and Preservation” in the period 2000-2008.

If you have fond memories of the Elks, we encourage you to share those via a comment. Also, please let your friends know about this series of articles about a true gem in Prescott Arizona.

About the authors     
Parker Anderson is the official Historian of the Elks Opera House. He spent thousands of hours compiling all known bookings in the first 100 years of the Opera House.     

Jack Wilson is the former Mayor of Prescott Arizona. He has had a long interest in history having founded two neighborhood historic societies in Chicago. He was instrumental in providing the funds that allowed “Bill the Elk” to return from Prescott Valley to his rightful perch atop the Elks Opera House.

Find out what all the buzz is about and experience Prescott AZ. Take a look at this 3-minute video overview: Experience Prescott 2010

If you liked that video, find out about the City of Prescott 4th of July Celebration

© 2010 Parker Anderson and Jack D. Wilson 

The Elks as a Theater

This is the third in a seven-part series about the Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House and focuses on its later history in the period 1943-1980.It was the middle of World War II in 1942 when Claude Cline took over management of the Elks Theater. He would manage it until 1980, becoming the longest-serving manager to date. Mr. Cline ran it as a straight movie theater.  There are still old-timers in Prescott who have happy memories of seeing movies in the Elks, and while it may be unpopular to say this, the Elks may have shown more life as a movie theater than it ever did as a live stage facility! 

What has progress wrought?

As the years rolled on, both fashions and technology changed. The original movies in the Elks were “talkies,” but by the middle 1940s movie technology had made major advancements. The original box seats with their Elks head décor seemed out-of-place in a “modern” movie theater. Manager Cline also was responsible for the remodeling we most remember today; in the winter of 1945-46, he took out the box seats and removed all of the ornaments and ornamental finishes including the elk’s heads, the clock, etc. to accommodate wide-screen movies. To gain some historical perspective, World War II had ended, troops had returned home and everyone was looking for entertainment to put the war behind them. 

modern elks interior stage

Modern Elks Interior with "Fluted" wall panels

 

The “fluting” wall he installed over the boxes was supposed to enhance the picture quality and sound.  An inside box office also eventually disappeared as did a second set balcony stairs. Today, historic building preservation is a watchword for many, but it was unheard of back then. In hindsight, we might be angry with Claude Cline for what he did, but in 1945, no one thought a thing of it. Remember, this was the same period that it was fashionable to paint natural golden oak woodwork in Victorian with white paint to “update” their look. To give everyone a “teaser” look of what is to come, here is a picture from the early part of the restoration putting the boxes back in place. 

Getting ready to put Opera Boxes back in place

 

Elks Building Sold

In 1968, the Elks Lodge decided to sell the building for reasons that are unknown.  They continued to rent their lodge rooms from the new owners until their new Prescott Valley facility was complete in 1971.  When they vacated the Elks building in Prescott, they took the big copper elk atop the roof with them (affectionately known as “Bill the Elk”).The Elks Theater went through a couple of short-term owners before being purchased by Don Head and Phil Toci, both attorneys.  Claude Cline kept his lease on the theater, but in 1973, he built and opened a new facility, the Marina Twin Theatres, located where the Social Security office is today.  At this point, Mr. Cline scaled back activity in the Elks, turning it into more of a family theater.  From 1973 until his retirement in 1980, Cline showed family films in the Elks, as well as second-run PG movies.  Under these conditions, he had the Elks open mostly on weekends only.  Some recent writers have contended that the Elks was closed completely between 1973 and 1980; however, that is simply not true.Claude Cline retired in 1980, giving up his lease on the Elks Theater.  Shortly afterwards, owners Head and Toci divided the building into two separate condominium units, selling the theater portion to the Arizona Community Foundation.This is the third in a series about the Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House. In the next installment, we will cover the period of turmoil in the years 1981-1999.If you have fond memories of the Elks, we encourage you to share those via a comment. Also, please let your friends know about this series of articles about a true gem in Prescott Arizona.About the authorsParker Anderson is the official Historian of the Elks Opera House. He spent thousands of hours compiling all known bookings in the first 100 years of the Opera House.Jack Wilson is the former Mayor of Prescott Arizona. He has had a long interest in history having founded two neighborhood historic societies in Chicago. He was instrumental in providing the funds that allowed the original “Bill the Elk” to return from Prescott Valley to his rightful perch atop the Elks Opera House.

© 2010 Parker Anderson and Jack D. Wilson   

On top of the Elks Opera House is “Bill the Elk”. Everyone wants to know why he is called Bill and we will cover that in a future installment. It is an interesting story, especially how we finally figured out why he is called Bill.   

Elks Exterior circa 1915

The elks Opera House c1915. Photo UBP Sharlot Hall Museum. Reuse only by permission.

 

In 1910, the Elks Lodge decided to stop operating the Opera House themselves, and leased it out to an independent manager (this would remain policy for the rest of the years the Lodge owned the building).   

The first manager to get the lease was Charles Howard, who ran a vaudeville house on Cortez Street.  He turned the Elks into a vaudeville house, which meant they had vaudeville acts every night, plus movies (which only ran about ten minutes each in those days).    

The Advent of Cinema

Movies arrived at the Elks in 1910, and stayed. The 1915 film masterpiece, Birth of a Nation, was shown at the Elks in 1916. During the silent film era, the theater had a small orchestra to provide the accompanying music. By 1929, the silent movie days were over, their demise owing to the Western Electric sound system. Movies were a mainstay of the Elks Opera House through the 1970s, with live performances returning in the 1980s.   

As a vaudeville house, the Elks changed managers several times, but in the mid-teens, Charles Born became manager, and stayed until 1942.  Vaudeville was dying by then, and the Elks became largely a movie theater, although they occasionally held live events yet – most notably, the Elks Opera House hosted world-famous opera contralto Madame Ernestine Schumann-Heink in 1921.   

Charles Born turned the Elks into a successful movie theater through extensive promotion, treating all the films as big events, printing weekly flyers to be distributed, etc.   

Elks_interior_side_view

The Elks Opera House Original Interior. Photo UBP Sharlot Hall Museum. Reuse only by permission.

 

Remodeling

When we look back today, many question the wisdom of the remodeling in the Elks Opera House. But we need to remember these were business people trying to operate a profitable business and not historical preservationists. Styles were also changing across America and to compete, you needed the new “modern” look. Remember when all the grand oak woodwork was painted white in the 1930s because that was the “modern” look?  

The Elks underwent interior remodeling in 1928 (in the Roaring-twenties) and 1933 (during the depths of the Great Depression), resulting in changes still seen today; the lobby was ramped and an extra aisle was added to the balcony, among other things.  

Charles Born retired in 1942, and Claude Cline took over a manager.  By that time, almost all live acts had stopped, and the Elks Opera House, then always called the Elks Theater, was exclusively a movie house.  

This is the second in a series about the Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House in Prescott Arizona. In the next installment, we will cover the later history in the period 1943-1967.  

If you have fond memories of the Elks, we encourage you to share those via a comment. Also, please let your friends know about this series of articles about a true gem in Prescott Arizona.  

About the authors

Parker Anderson is the official Historian of the Elks Opera House. He spent thousands of hours compiling all known bookings in the first 100 years of the Opera House.  

Jack Wilson is the former Mayor of Prescott Arizona. He has had a long interest in history having founded two neighborhood historic societies in Chicago. He was instrumental in providing the funds that allowed “Bill the Elk” to return from Prescott Valley to his rightful perch atop the Elks Opera House.

Elks interior early 1900s

Early 1900s Elks Opera House Interior. Photo UBP Sharlot Hall Museum. Reuse only by permission.

 

© 2010 Parker Anderson and Jack D. Wilson   

In the early twentieth century there were numerous Elks Opera Houses across America. One hundred years later only one has survived in the entire country. This series traces the history of this unique structure; how it was built, how it was used, how it later was used as a movie house for 72 years, how it fell into decline, how it was almost lost and finally the story of its amazing restoration. The history of the Elks Opera House has mirrored the history of Prescott.   

Prescott, Arizona began as a gold mining and military encampment in 1864. President Abraham Lincoln chose Prescott as the Territorial Capital of Arizona because there were too many Confederate sympathizers in Tucson. The gold did not last very long (but you can still pan for gold today) and Prescott lost its place as the Territorial capital (after being the capital twice). It then evolved into a ranching community. But Prescott’s military encampment, Ft. Whipple, remained as an anchor.   

In the 1890 census, Prescott had a population of 1,789[1]. In January 1896 the Elks Lodge BPOE[2] 330 was founded. By the 1900 census Prescott’s population had exploded to 3,559[3]. In August 1900 the Elks purchased a vacant lot on Gurley Street and later bought adjacent vacant property.   

The Elks originally planned to build the structure in order to have a permanent lodge; they had been renting various meeting rooms around town since 1896.  They started to seriously consider an Opera House after the old Dake Opera House was bulldozed (in 1903; it was only half a block away). Construction was estimated at $50,000.   

Later, after a competing plan to build an opera house in Prescott did not materialize, a notice was published in the 1904 Prescott Daily Journal Miner urging businessmen of the city to attend a meeting on Feb. 12 to discuss a proposal from the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge #330 to include an opera house, at an estimated cost of $15,000, to the building they were erecting on East Gurley Street.   

“Prescott should have a good opera house and there never was a good chance before to have one for the money that this will cost, and if this chance is lost it will be a good long time before another such opportunity is offered.” 

The residents of Prescott had migrated from the East and missed the entertainment they used to enjoy. They raised the necessary funds and the opera house was incorporated into the plans for the three-story building housing the lodge on the top floor, offices on the second floor and retail space on the ground floor. The granite cornerstone of the building was laid on April 3, 1904, with an excited crowd in attendance.   

The February 10, 1905, Prescott Weekly Courier reported: 

“The peer of that theatre is not found east of San Francisco until the great cities of the Mississippi Valley are reached, and even there our theatre is outclassed only as to size, for our theatre is about as perfect as the handiwork of man generally gets to be.”  

The Elks held their grand opening on Monday, February 20, 1905. It included the stage show MARTA OF THE LOWLANDS by Angel Guimera, starring the then-famed stage actress Florence Roberts and billed as a romance of old Spain.  The play itself, though forgotten today, was quite acclaimed at the time, and to this day there are streets and monuments in Barcelona named in honor of its fictitious hero, Manelic. The orchestra was composed of musicians from Prescott, Jerome and Phoenix. Opera boxes sold for $20.00 and general admission was $2.50. The box office proceeds totaled $1,225, leaving a $600 to $700 net profit for the Elks Lodge. This play was recreated as part of the 100th anniversary of the Elks in 2005.   

After that, the Elks hosted many more professional traveling road show plays and many local productions were staged. Prescott High School and St. Joseph’s Academy held their graduation ceremonies there (called “commencement exercises” in those days).  Famous people who graced the stage during this period included bandleader John Philip Sousa, and former Presidential candidate turned evangelist William Jennings Bryan, both in 1909.   

Elks Exterior circa 1915

The elks Opera House c1915. Photo UBP Sharlot Hall Museum. Reuse only by permission.

 

This is the first in a series about the Prescott Arizona Elks Opera House in Prescott Arizona. In the next installment, we will cover the middle history of the Elks, from 1910-1942, when it was used for vaudeville shows that included short movies and later just for movies.   

About the authors   

Parker Anderson is the official Historian of the Elks Opera House. He spent thousands of hours compiling all known bookings in the first 100 years of the Opera House.   

Jack D. Wilson is the former Mayor of Prescott Arizona. He has had a long interest in history having founded two neighborhood historic societies in Chicago. He was instrumental in providing the funds that allowed “Bill the Elk” to return from Prescott Valley to his rightful perch atop the Elks Opera House.   


[1] “POPULATION OF ARIZONA.; Census Shows Increase of 62,592 Since 1890,” October 18, 1900, New York Times   

[2] Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks   

[3] “POPULATION OF ARIZONA.; Census Shows Increase of 62,592 Since 1890,” October 18, 1900, New York Times 

  

"Bill the Elk"

"Bill the Elk" atop the Elks Opera House

 

I am happy to announce that I will be collaborating with Parker Anderson, official Historian of the Elks Opera House, on a new series on its history. We envision that this series will encompass 5 to 8 blog posts.   

At one time there were many Elks Opera Houses in America. But today only three survive in the entire country. Two of these are being used as movie theatres. We have a real gem in our soon to be restored Elks Opera House. Parker Anderson spent thousands of hours documenting all the bookings in the Elk’s Opera House in its first one-hundred years. I provided the funding to return the original “Bill the Elk” from Prescott Valley to atop the building. I also served as President of the Thumb Butte Questers when all the Prescott Questers chapters raised matching funds for the grant that allowed the inner (or second) lobby to be restored.   

I hope that our collaboration on the Elks brings back many fond memories. Stay tuned for the first installment.