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Mike Vax on trumpet

Mike Vax on trumpet

 

 The 10th Annual Prescott Jazz Summit will heat up Prescott on August 27-29 at multiple venues. This year’s theme is A Tribute to the Great BIG BANDS.   

Ballroom dancing added!   

The Prescott Jazz Summit is always eagerly awaited by jazz aficionados, but this year something new has been added – dancing! On Friday evening and Saturday afternoon there will be live music in multiple locations with ballroom dancing at Hotel St. Michael’s historic hardwood floor ballroom. Here is your chance to enjoy some great live music plus dancing!     

Friday August 27, 2010 – 7:30 – 10:30pm – $25.00   Three simultaneous concerts – one ticket is good at all concerts:    

  • Hassayampa Inn’s Arizona Ballroom (nightclub style)
  • Hassayampa Inn’s Marina Ballroom (nightclub style)
  • Dancing at Hotel St. Michael’s historic hardwood floor ballroom

Saturday August 28, 2010 – 1:00 – 4:00pm – $20.00     

  • Concert at the Hassayampa Inn’s Arizona ballroom
  • Dancing at Hotel St. Michael’s historic hardwood floor ballroom
      (one ticket is good for both)

Online information and tickets at http://www.prescottjazz.com/ Or call (928) 771-1268 for information. Tickets can also be purchased at the Hassayampa Inn (122 E. Gurley) or at the Prescott Chamber of Commerce (117 W. Goodwin ST).

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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 

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.

  

"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.

Prescott Tourism Tweets

  • We're soon retiring this Twitter account--follow @visit_prescott for travel, tourism & event-related info for Prescott, Arizona 6 years ago
  • Our Twitter account is closing soon...please follow @visit_prescott for Prescott, Arizona related travel & tourism info! 6 years ago
  • City of Prescott 4th of July Extravaganza next Wed @ Pioneer Park: games, rides, music, fireworks & more! dld.bz/b63nk 7 years ago
  • Another edition of the Folk Sessions at the Highlands Center in Prescott this Sat: "Women in Song II", 7pm dld.bz/b63mU 7 years ago
  • Cowboy poets Chris Isaacs and Gail Steiger perform at Ben's Fine Art Gallery in Prescott, this Fri & Sat dld.bz/b63mu 7 years ago

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