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© 2010 by Jack D. Wilson

Hard to believe, but the temperatures have started to drop and we will soon be transitioning into Fall. But before that happens Prescott Arizona has a roundhouse schedule of events on September 24/25/26 to keep everyone entertained. Pack your bags and book your room, this is one weekend you should spend in Prescott!

Entertainment all weekend

The weekend starting on Friday September 24 will have multiple events occurring across Prescott. There is always lots to do in Prescott, but this weekend will be truly spectacular. Come on up early and get a round or two of golf in at one of the top-rated municipal golf courses in Arizona, Antelope Hills.

Thumb Butte Festival

The entertainment starts on Friday, September 24 with the Thumb Butte Festival. Here is a description from their web site:

“Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza
5:00 – 10:00 pm
At 5pm the "Spotlight Kids" perform acts from Alice In Wonderland" followed by a fashion show by the Elks Opera Guild, "An Evening at the Opera House." Guild members model gowns and eveningwear from 1905 to 1940.
Other performers on the evening’s bill are Jonathan Best, known for his "equal parts gospel tenor, boogie-woogie piano and avant-garde sound collage"; songwriter, singer and storyteller Rita Cantu; flamenco music and dance group Rio Flamenco; classical vocalist Lecia Breen; Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering; several surprise guests including a special appearance by professional performers emulating Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe!”

To see the complete schedule, go to their website: Thumb Butte Festival

“My Way – A musical tribute to Frank Sinatra” at Elks Opera House

My-Way1-300x207

ABT named BEST PLAYHOUSE in the Valley of the Sun by Phoenix Magazine – Don’t miss MY WAY 9/24-25 at the Elks Opera House. Info at Elks Opera House.

Tickets on sale now! Click here to buy tickets

Western heritage Days

PrescottWesternHeritageDaysLogo

The 1st Annual Western Heritage Days kicks off on Saturday, September 25. This will the largest re-enactment round-up ever in Arizona and it will be on Whiskey Row in downtown Prescott. It starts at 9:00AM on Whiskey Row in Downtown Prescott and runs until 5:00PM. It concludes with a Cowboy chuck wagon breakfast Sunday morning at 9:30AM at Sharlot Hall Museum. Tickets are $12.00 for the breakfast and are available at the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Prescott Convention and Visitors Bureau (corner or Cortez and Gurley).

See their website for full details and schedules: Prescott Western Heritage Days

PrescottWesternHeritageDaysWeb

Taste of Prescott

Taste of Prescott occurs on Saturday, September 25 from Noon-4:00PM. It is held in a large tent in the parking lot of the Frontier Village Shopping Center at 1841 E Hwy 69. Sample some of the best cuisine (and thirst quenchers) from many of the great restaurants in the quad-city area. The event will also feature beer and wine tasting. Tickets for the Taste are $1.00 each, 6 for $5.00 or 12 for $10.00. Food items are one tickets with beer and wine 3 tickets. Benefits Yavapai Food Bank.

I highly recommend this event. You spend a few bucks that benefits a very worthy cause and you get a chance to sample some of the best food in Prescott. They also will have music by Pam and Dave Swanstrom and this really is an event I look forward to each year. If you can, bring a couple of cans of food to donate to the Yavapai Food Bank – it these tough times they need a little extra help.

Toni Tennille Sings Big Band

Prescott resident Toni Tennille performs in concert at 7:30PM on Saturday September 25. This event is sold out so if you do not have tickets already you will be disappointed. See Toni Tennille’s News Gazette.

Antiques on the Square

AntqOnTheSQ2

The fall edition of Antiques on the Square will be held from 9:00AM-5:00PM on Sunday September 26 on the downtown Courthouse Plaza. This show is sponsored by the Thumb Butte Questers and features real antiques and collectibles – this is not a crafts show.

A Prescott tradition, "Antiques on the Square," has been a premier Arizona antique destination for over 22 years. It is an antique and collectibles show with 50+ dealers. Info: 928.899.6438

More information at Antiques on the Square

This show features antiques and collectibles and no craft items are allowed in the show. Several local dealers only sell at this show and there will be dealers from Tucson and Phoenix. Dealers will feature antique advertising signs, vintage clothing, antique jewelry, furniture, Victorian dresser mirrors and stereopticons, lighting fixtures, folk art, art glass and antique books. In addition to the show there are several antique shops and antique malls on Cortez Street (Antique Row).

Raw Spirits Festival – Sept 24 – 26, 2010

The Raw Spirit Festival International is being held at the spectacular Watson Lake Park in Prescott, Arizona’s gorgeous Granite Dells. See the Raw Spirits web site for full details.

Other activities

In case all of the above is not enough to keep you busy over the weekend, here are some additional options to include in your planning (click on the links to see them):

Spotlight on Prescott Arizona Museums

Insider Guide to Trails in Prescott Arizona

Antique Capital of Arizona

Of course after you sample all of the above, you may realize that Prescott is unique in may ways and come to the conclusion that many have (including me):

All Agree – Prescott Arizona – retirement haven

Photo credits

The Western Heritage Days illustrations are courtesy of that organization. All other 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.

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 

Prescott Museums
© Jack D. Wilson 2010

Prescott Arizona is a relatively small town of about 43,000 people. However, its thirst for the arts is disproportional to its population. Arts have many forms including the performing arts, painting, sculpture, public art, galleries and museums. This article focuses on our many museums, and includes existing museums, collections on loan and future museums.

Existing Museums

Sharlot Hall Museum Logo

Sharlot Hall Museum

(website: http://sharlot.org/ ) was founded in 1928 by Sharlot M. Hall. The museum is within easy walking distance of the Courthouse Plaza and Whiskey Row. It is located at 415 West Gurley Street. Their phone number is (928) 445-3122. If you like history, you will love this museum. It is a museum campus with several buildings including the original Territorial Governor’s Mansion (yes, Prescott was the territorial capital on two occasions). You can spend an hour or a day here and they have a museum gift shop with fascinating merchandize.  Here is a YouTube video about the museum: An Inexpensive Arizona Family Getaway – Sharlot Hall Museum

Phippen Museum of Western Art

Phippen Museum of Western Art

(website: http://www.phippenartmuseum.org/ ) opened its doors to the public on October 13, 1984. It is named after George Phippen, first president of the Cowboy Artists of America. The Phippen Museum is located 7 scenic miles north of the Courthouse plaza in downtown Prescott, Arizona. From the downtown area, take Highway 89 North past the Granite Dells. The museum is on the right (4701 Highway 89 North). Their phone number is (928) 778-1385.   

Smoki Museum

The Smoki Museum

(website: http://www.smokimuseum.org/ ) has an interesting and somewhat controversial origin. The “Smoki People” were area businessmen, not native American Indians – for the full story see http://www.smokimuseum.org/page16.html#smoki. The museum is located at 147 N. Arizona Ave. about seven blocks east of the Courthouse Plaza. Their phone number is (928) 445-1230

Here is a quote from their website on the origin of the museum:

Designed to resemble an Indian pueblo, the Smoki Museum was built in 1935 of native stone and wood. It was constructed with labor provided by the Civilian Works Administration and the Smoki People. The Smoki People were a group of Prescott citizens organized in 1921 and dedicated to the perpetuation of American Indian ceremonies and dances.  Until 1990, the Smoki People held annual pageants at the Yavapai County Fairgrounds, but they also became a large social organization focused on developing appreciation for Southwest Indian tribes through the Museum and their annual program. ”

Fort Whipple Museum Sign

The Fort Whipple Museum

is our newest museum (website: http://sharlot.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=124&Itemid=90 The museum was a joint effort between the Bob Stump VA Center and the Sharlot Hall Museum. It is located on the grounds of the VA Hospital on Hwy. 89 in Prescott. Admission is by donation. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and closed for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

The Spot – a Child’s Museum

The museum opened in 2009 in the Prescott Gateway Mall. Their website is at http://www.thespotmuseum.org/index.php/the-spot

There vision and mission statements (from their website) are:

Vision    
The spot…a Child’s Museum envisions children as lifelong learners who are inquisitive and knowledgeable about the world and are inspired to become stewards of a peaceful and sustainable planet.    
Mission     
The spot…a Child’s Museum provides interactive play experiences to stimulate curiosity, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving for children of all ages.”    

Collection on Loan

The Prescott Area Arts Trust (PAAT) owns the Solon H. Borglum collection currently on view at the Prescott Valley Civic Center. The Solon H. Borglum exhibit features 19 sculptures and other items from the renowned sculptor’s collection. Learn more and read the self-tour guide: Solon H. Borglum Fine Arts Exhibition http://www.pvaz.net/Index.aspx?page=438

The Prescott Area Arts Trust plans to install this collection into a museum setting in Prescott in the future.

Future Museums

Prescott Fire Department logo

Prescott Fire Department Museum

The Prescott Fire Department is the oldest fire department in Arizona. They celebrated their 125th anniversary in 2010. They have accumulated a wide variety of historical fire department memorabilia and plan to have a museum of their own in the future.    

Prescott Frontier Days Worlds Oldest Rodeo

Prescott Frontier Days® World’s Oldest Rodeo Museum

The Prescott Frontier Days® World’s Oldest Rodeo has run continuously since 1888. It will celebrate its 125th season in 2012. Over that long history, Prescott Frontier Days® has collected a large amount of rodeo items of historic value.

About the author

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. While he was mayor, he participated in two Mayor’s Ride to Work and had a Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee. He now writes a couple of blogs and is President of the Prescott Frontier Days Community Service Foundation.

Prescott Tourism Tweets

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