The oldest home on tour was built in 1899 and is one of the last homes on the way out of Jerome. Hear some exciting stories about the original owners and the high jinx of the current owners who have enjoyed this home as the Gillenwater family retreat for the past 25 years.
Across the street, The Klagge Home began its life as a one story home right on Clark Street and expanded down the mountain into an art filled three story retreat with a history rich in Jerome intrigue. A new art studio has made it to the list this year.
On Center Street, in the heart of the residential area, textile designer Barbara Fowler will open her doors to show guests her splendid space and explain the process from creation to fabric, all set on the hillside of Cleopatra Hill.
Four more stops on the tour will complete the perfect day in Jerome with all the charm and history of the picturesque mile high town.
In speaking to the owners of this year’s line-up of homes and buildings, the most impressive aspect is their love of the historic town of Jerome. Gil Gillenwater, one of the owners of the Clark Street gem, tells stories with true enthusiasm for all the quirkiness of the place. Purchased in 1983, the twenty-something siblings had eyed the property from a hand-made flyer in 1979, hawking a home with a ‘trillion dollar view’. Four years later, they purchased it as a getaway and proceeded to spend Thanksgivings and holidays in the two-story home for many years prior to the extensive renovation, which has transformed the home into one of Jerome’s most beautiful houses. Being the home closest to 89A in the State of Arizona turned out to be just too tempting for the three boys who were known to jump from the balcony onto passing RV’s for a ride into town for a brew at The Spirit Room. Their sister, who was not a jumper, was known to dance on the highway during their holiday events. Interesting enough, the original owner of the home, James Cain, was the mayor of Jerome in 1917 and was responsible for the NO SPITTING ordinance, which he invoked that year. No doubt, he would have had some stern words for the Gillenwater family.
Across the street, a Jerome banker built The Deming/Klagge home in 1914. Newspaper clippings show that Mr. Deming was twice indicted of bank fraud before he left town for greener pastures. The Klagges have brought this home into a new life filled with mostly Jerome Art, lovely outside decks and forever views of The Verde Valley as well as a bird’s eye view of The Gulch, the lower section of Jerome where people live tucked away behind the trees. They have nicknamed the house “The Catbird Seat”. This is an idiomatic expression used by the late baseball radio announcer Red Barber to denote “sitting pretty” or being in an enviable position.
Mary Wills and Sally Dryer, the owners of Nellie Bly Kaleidoscopes in Jerome, have been renovating The Sullivan Hotel since 2006. The Main Street frontage houses the Kaleidoscope shop and the renovation in the back will be unveiled during the tour this year. This building was owned by Jennie Bauters (aka Belgian Jennie), the infamous madam who was murdered in Gold Road, AZ in 1905. She was also thought to be the richest woman in Arizona at the time of her death. After a massive fire in 1899, Jennie rebuilt the structure out of stone to house the infamous cribs for her working girls. Thisincredible structure has been brought back to life with years of labor and love. Master woodworker Steven Gray has contributed his skillful handiwork and visitors will see his contemporary interpretation of a historic bathroom.
The Miner’s Cottage on Main Street is masterfully renovated by Wendy Jackson and has been noted on construction maps as early as 1886. The current property covers what originally held three structures. Early residents were The Rudy family. Mrs. Rudy ran a dress shop on the street level and Mr. Rudy was an electrician with the Verde Central Mine. It is believed that local miners rented space from the family. This seems to be the origin of the name of the home.
Jerome Town Hall is a stop on the tour this year. This 1924 building was originally known as The Clark Street School. After the mines closed, there were no more children in town and the building was vacant until the 1970’s. Stories abound of the new life as a disco, restaurant, shops and pub. Today, guests will see the Jerome Library, the Town Council Chambers and the newly remodeled upstairs classrooms. Be ready for a surprise as school might just be in session during the tour.
The Jerome Historical Society has owned a Main Street building called The Boyd Hotel since 1956. This is one of the first brick walled structures in Jerome following the fire of 1899. Originally owned by Kitty Boyd, The Boyd Hotel continues to be used as housing with storefronts on the street level. In 2004, The Historical Society won The Governor’s Heritage Preservation Honor Award for major work, making the entire building useable. Guests will see the newest part of the hotel, which will be used as a vacation rental in the near future.
This is a guided tour with transportation provided from home to home. The all-volunteer docents will explain the history and the fascinating stories behind each venue. There are plenty of steps and winding paths so the tour will not be handicapped accessible. For more information, contact The Jerome Chamber of Commerce at (928) 634-2900..
Information provided by: The Jerome Chamber of Commerce