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© 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.

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"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

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