No visit to Prescott would be complete without a side trip to the 1880s mining camp town of Jerome. Nestled atop Cleopatra Hill inside Arizona’s Black Hills within the Prescott National Forest, the leisurely 35 mile jaunt from Prescott delights the senses with steep and winding mountain roads and panoramic views of the Verde Valley. Spectacular!
Such an enchanting little town, Jerome. Fascinating and such well documented history. At the high point of copper mining (circa 1900), Jerome had approximately 15,000 residents and mining profits were estimated at $1 million A MONTH. After the mines shut down in the early 1950s, the population fell to a dismal 50 people. A veritable ghost town. Fires ravaged the town on four different occasions through the late 1800s, only to be restored each time, with many of the buildings still standing today. Thanks to the Jerome Historical Society there are biographical plaques placed conveniently around town brimming with juicy historical facts and information. As one might assume, Jerome had its share of gambling, prostitution, drinking, dining and entertainment.
Photos of the Cribs District (“prostitution row”). Be sure to read the captions! Saloons then…and now. Opened in 1918, the Liberty Theatre, with a pipe organ and a capacity of 536 seats, showed silent movies for 20 to 30 cents until its closing in 1929. Still standing today. The second floor of the theatre is more or less untouched since its closing. You can pay $2 to sit and watch a 30-minute documentary on Jerome’s history. Well worth your time!
Attached is the historic Hotel Conner which is actually still operating as a hotel. Opened in 1898 and offers 12 rooms with a quaint little gift shop/lobby that you are welcome to peruse. Vintage Post Office shotAnd todayLook at this shot I scored. So sneaky but so perfect, I couldn’t resist!The crown jewel of Jerome, the United Verde Hospital (now the Jerome Grand Hotel). Built by the United Verde Copper Company in 1926 as a state-of-the-art medical facility serving Jerome. With over 9,000 deaths reported until its closing in 1950 due to mining operations shutting down, this is a ghost hunter’s paradise. Countless reports of ghost activity, anything from coughing (of an ill patient) to newborn babies crying to things moving of their own volition. After closing, the hospital sat empty for 44 years until it was purchased and renovated into the Jerome Grand Hotel, which is still open for business today. Everyone I spoke to had a story or two to share. I must say, it did feel pretty creepy walking through the old hospital hallways and seeing the old hospital room doors at the hotel room doors. I glanced over at the Otis Elevator, Arizona’s first self-service elevator, installed in the United Verde Hospital in 1926 where the hospital maintenance man was found murdered in April 1935. Yikessss. How it looks today. A beautiful mission revival style structure built on a 50 degree slope. Impressive architecture. I ate at The Asylum restaurant at the hotel and enjoyed fabulous views and an incredibly delicious calamari salad. A MUST HAVE if you dine here. I was very pleased with my choice to dine here versus some of the more crowded eateries in town. Elliott enjoyed the nice cool patio. View over Jerome from the archway off the dining room patio. Gorgeous. Made a stop at Caduceus Cellars founded in 2004 by rock n’roll frontman (Tool, Perfect Circle, Puscifer) and Jerome resident, Maynard James Keenan. A captivating space where you can sample and purchase wine as well as a variety of other goods and even have a bite to eat. Very well done, Maynard. Nice wine. The Sancha was my favorite of the 3 wines I tasted. Really nice. In addition to trading posts, jewelry, clothing, and pottery stores, as well as a trinket shoppe or two, there are a few other worthwhile mentionables in this town of now 400 artistic and entrepreneurial full-time residents.
Craft gallery filled with local and regional art. A fudge and ice cream shoppe where I could not resist buying a SMALL (I swear) square of pumpkin caramel fudge. Oh my Lord. So decadent. The Mine Museum which houses a sensational collection of photos and memorabilia from Jerome’s history which you can visit for just $2! Excellent stop! And the old Surgeon’s quarters which is now a really lovely Bed and Breakfast. Though our visit was brief, and I know we didn’t get to see or do everything, we had such a fantastic time exploring and discovering Jerome. What an intriguing and appealing little historic town. I foresee a lot of positive growth and changes ahead for this place and look forward to returning!