Category Archives: Cochise County

Tombstone’s Fremont Street to get new old look

[Source: Julie Ann Marra, Herald/Review] — Fremont Street is preparing to go back in time. Through a grant from the Arizona Department of Transportation, the city of Tombstone has partnered with several organizations to restore Fremont Street to what it looked like historically. The project aims to place boardwalks, porches, canopies and sidewalks where they are historically appropriate along Fremont between Third Street and Sixth Street. This stretch coincides with Highway 80. “Our mission here is to restore Fremont Street to its original grandeur,” said Tombstone Historic District Commissioner Steve Troncale. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Douglas community works to preserve once beautiful theater (op-ed)

[Source: Bonnie Henry, Daily Star] — I see a ruin — a gutted, roofless shell. They see progress — and a dream that refuses to die. In 1919, the Grand Theatre — billed as the finest theater between San Antonio and Los Angeles — opened in the mining town of Douglas. Managed first by Greek immigrant James Xalis, and soon after by his nephew, Daved Diamos, the theater seated 1,600 and boasted a marble lobby, a pipe organ and ladies’ tea room.

Pavlova and Ginger Rogers danced on its stage. John Philip Sousa performed here. For decades, graduating classes at Douglas High School held commencement exercises here. And then, as is the history of so many grand, old theaters, it fell into disuse and eventual abandonment. It closed in 1958. According to the Theatre’s website the roof collapsed in 1976. Trees eventually sprouted among the fallen timbers — too heavy to be removed. Water pooled on the auditorium floor. An owl took up residence, feasting on the pigeons inside. In 1983 the all-volunteer Douglas Arts and Humanities Association formed to save the building from slated demolition. By then, the theater had been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Douglas Arts and Humanities Association.]

Cochise Hotel: A brief history

[Source: W. Lane Rogers, Range News] — Cochise was a watering stop for Southern Pacific steam locomotives and the junction point for the Eastern Arizona Railroad to Douglas. It was established in 1880 when a work force, composed largely of Chinese laborers, laid track from Tucson to the New Mexico border. Construction of the hotel (pictured), a rambling structure with sixteen-inch walls and a false front, was completed in 1882. It was built by Southern Pacific telegrapher John Rath as a boarding house for railroad workers. During its early days, it doubled as the local Wells Fargo office and, after 1897, served for a time as the Cochise post office. Legend has it that Big Nose Kate, mistress to Doc Holliday, worked for Rath between 1899 and 1900, prior to moving to Dos Cabezas where she lived out her life. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Hotel Arnold in Benson

[Source: W. Lane Rogers, Arizona Range News] — In 1890, Alexander Arnold McGinnis and his wife Nora settled in Benson. Established by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1880, Benson’s first decade witnessed a transition from a town made up largely of single male railroad workers to a more structured community of family homes, businesses, churches, a school, and social and fraternal organizations.

Benson was the hub city of railroads and travel in southern Arizona nearly always necessitated making a connection there. With all its hustle and bustle, it was a friendly town that welcomed travelers. It boasted at least two good restaurants and three hotels-the Trask House, Virginia, and Mansion. Still, the McGinnises determined that Benson could support another. Property north of the depot was purchased and in 1907, Hotel Arnold’s main building (pictured) was completed at a cost of $4,423. Built in an architectural style that would come to be called Anglo Territorial, the building contained 12 rooms. A double-roofed dwelling was constructed, as well a red brick building that housed four units, an adobe carriage house and half a dozen small cottages. Water was pumped from a well driven by a windmill and a rudimentary generator provided electricity years before the town enjoyed such luxury.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Lane Rogers.]

Historic Preservation Week activities in Willcox May 10

[Source: Ainslee Wittig, Arizona Range News] — Historic Preservation Week activities will be held on Saturday, May 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The 2008 Wheels of Progress will be honored from noon to 2 p.m. at Big Tex Restaurant, located at 130 E. Maley, in Willcox, Ariz. Guest speakers are Gus and Marsha Arzberger, Arizona State Senators. Guest author will be William Kalt, a railroad historian, at 10 a.m. at the Willcox Historic Depot.

The grandson of a Tucson SP accountant, William Kalt, grew up in a proud pioneer Arizona family. History lessons began early for the career public educator, as relatives shared tales of the rough and tumble days of their youth. His story, “Epes Randolph: Railroad Man of the Southwest,” won the society’s James F. Elliot II award for the best article by a non-professional historian during 2006. Kalt captured oral histories of southern Arizona railroad men and women and did archival research across the southwest to complete his book Tucson Was a Railroad Town. Kalt will also sign books.

For more information contact the Sulphur Springs Valley Historical Society or Chiricahua Regional Museum and Research Center at 520-384-3971. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Group eyes ways to capitalize on Naco’s history

[Source: Laura Ory, Bisbee Daily Review] — Naco may be the only community that can claim mammoth kill sites, historic military buildings and a golf course. Its history is what many are hoping to capitalize on for future development projects. About 30 “stakeholders,” including Naco residents, school board members, local and county government officials, college and university students and faculty, and many others met for a Camp Naco community planning meeting Saturday at Naco Elementary School. Though getting local residents involved in community projects has been an ongoing problem, said some Naco residents, none present were apathetic about Naco’s future at the meeting.

“Our goal is coming up with a sustainable development master plan for the Naco area that incorporates the historical, cultural and natural resources of the area,” said Brooks Jeffrey, a professor and associate dean of the University of Arizona College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. By including the community and a diverse group of stakeholders, they hope to create a plan with broad support. “We want to avoid planning in isolation and instead plan holistically,” Jeffrey said. Among those brainstorming ideas at the meeting was JoAnn Armenta, a Clean Cities coordinator for the U.S. Department of Energy. She hopes the community will be able to incorporate alternative and sustainable energy practices. “So when we do develop, we develop green,” she said.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Pictured: Historic Camp Naco.]

Naco visionaries banking on community’s rich history

[Source: Ted Morris, Herald/Review] — This tiny border community is full of possibilities when it comes to tourism and other recreational attractions. Mexican Revolution. Buffalo Soldiers. Civilian Conservation Corps. Mammoth kill site. Port of entry. RVs. Golf. “It’s got it all,” said Rebecca Orozco, the director of Cochise College’s Center for Lifelong Learning. Orozco is one of the organizers of this coming Saturday’s planning charrette for the Naco community. “Anyone interested in Naco’s future” is invited to attend. Billed as a “ ‘roll-up-the-sleeves’ participatory design process,” the charrette will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Naco Elementary School, 1911 W. Valenzuela St.

“Charrette,” a French word for “cart” or “chariot,” is a term that was used by architecture students in Paris in the 19th century who worked intensely, up to the last minute, even as they rode in carts to their design presentations. In the summer of 2006, Bisbee underwent a charrette that was considered by many to be successful in providing a sailing chart for that city. The Naco Planning Charrette will coincide with the second day of another historic occasion for the community — the Turquoise Valley Golf Course’s celebration of its century of existence. Several things are happening lately with Naco, and the charrette will be an opportunity to discuss these developments. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

A tribute to Buffalo Soldiers

[Source: Sam Lowe, Arizona Republic] — The monument is an 8-foot-tall bronze sculpture of a Buffalo Soldier in period dress, holding a rifle in one hand and a saddle in the other. The work traces its origins to the early 1970s, when Spec. 4 Clarence E. Wilson Jr. embarked on a personal mission to honor African-American soldiers who had been stationed at Fort Huachuca. Wilson, a social worker in the fort’s drug- and alcohol-abuse center, worked tirelessly in his off-duty hours to establish a course on Black history, acquire Black heritage literature for the post libraries and start the campaign to erect the statue. But Wilson left the post before accomplishing the mission, so Col. Arthur Corley, then the garrison commander, assigned the project to the Fort Huachuca Historical Museum.

Staff artist Rose Murray was given the task of designing the sculpture, and she attended advanced sculpture courses at the University of Arizona while creating several wax models of the soldier. Once the final model was ready, the garrison ran into funding problems. There wasn’t enough money to cast the bronze, but a firm in Tucson accepted the work at a bargain price. Further cost reductions were achieved by scaling down the statue’s size and by melting down brass scrap from Army stocks. When the work was completed, there was the problem of finding a vehicle capable of transporting it from Tucson to the fort. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

A hands on effort to help preserve historic Camp Naco

Saturday March 29th, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. there will be a Naco Planning Charette to discuss an update of Naco Brownfields project, the creation of a park next to the school with walking/running/biking trail, and the preservation and future of Camp Naco (pictured). Anyone interested in Naco’s future should attend. The Charette will take place at Naco Elementary School in Naco. A continental breakfast and lunch will be served. For further information or to join efforts to preserve Camp Naco, contact CNAPC, c/o Professor J.C. Mutchler, University of Arizona South, Sierra Vista, AZ 85635. You can also send an email to or contact Rebecca Orozco, Director – Center for Lifelong Learning at 520-515-5382 or email

Bisbee Foundation accepting grant applications

[Source: Shar Porier, Herald/Review] — The Bisbee Foundation has begun its 2008 grant cycle and is asking that area organizations, students and individuals file scholarship and grant applications by the deadline of April 1. Doug Dunn, member of the foundation’s board, said the grants are available to support Bisbee organizations or individuals in the arts or humanities or to assist in historic preservation. Funded programs must be open and accessible to local citizens. The grant categories include special projects, general operating support, technical assistance and mini-grants. Two $500 scholarships will be awarded this year. “The Dan Davies Scholarship will go to a student seeking a degree in the arts or humanities at an accredited college or university. The second scholarship, established in the memory of Bisbee artist John Heshmati, is to be used in the pursuit of a degree or a non-degree art study program,” Dunn said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]