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12/9/2013 2:06:00 PM
Clarkdale tours relive century of company town's unique history
The bank robbery will run three times in what is now the Four Eight Wineworks tasting room. Much of the inside has been kept authentic, like the teller cages‚ wooden facade and vault cage doors. VVN/Jon Pelletier
The bank robbery will run three times in what is now the Four Eight Wineworks tasting room. Much of the inside has been kept authentic, like the teller cages‚ wooden facade and vault cage doors. VVN/Jon Pelletier
Four homes, a century-old church and the historic United Verde Copper Company smelter make up the list of stops in this year's Clarkdale Historic Building and Home Tour.
Four homes, a century-old church and the historic United Verde Copper Company smelter make up the list of stops in this year's Clarkdale Historic Building and Home Tour.
If You Go ...
• What: Fifth Annual Clarkdale Historic Building and Home Tour

• When: Dec. 14, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Where: 900 First North, Clarkdale

• How much: Pre-event tickets may be purchased at a reduced price at Clarkdale Historical Society & Museum, 900 First North, Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Main Street Cafe & Pizzeria in Clarkdale, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week; and The Checkered Past Antiques in Old Town Cottonwood, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week for $15. Cost at the door is $20.

• Find out more: Historical Society and Museum at 928-649-1198 or Cindy Emmett at 399-0031.

Reservations are not required and the tour is not handicapped accessible.


Yvonne Gonzalez
Staff Reporter


Four homes, a century-old church and the historic United Verde Copper Company smelter make up the list of stops in this year's Clarkdale Historic Building and Home Tour.

Cindy Emmett of the town's historical society and museum said she started the annual home tour to share the unique history Clarkdale has to offer. In its fifth year, she said they've worked out some of the kinks.

"Clarkdale was planned as a long-lasting community," she said. "We have so much to offer as far as history, a unique history."

When she first started contacting people, asking if they'd like to be on the home tour, there were mixed results.

"I have to get brand-new people each time," Emmett said. "It's a challenge in some cases and in some cases it's not. People come to me and say they'd love to have their houses on the home tour, then people say, 'Are you kidding? I don't want anybody in my house.'"

The 60 volunteers this year will get an exclusive smelter tour.

On Dec. 14, vans will bring tours of people from upper Clarkdale to lower Clarkdale, across the bridge over Bitter Creek and to the smelter. Docents inside homes are going to be giving information about each of the stops along the route.

"Up there where the houses are so close, I've got two people stationed there to just kind of help guide people right around the corner," she said.

A steel company bought the smelter site in the mid-50s and used explosives to blast out the metal, blowing out the windows on the buildings in the process.

"The building we're going in is the power house," she said. "It created all the energy to run the smelter and then all of these outlying buildings."

An addition to the top of the power house allows hot air to escape through rows of high windows.

"It's the first time that building's been open in 60 years to the public," she said.

St. Thomas Episcopal Church just turned 100 years old, and will be featured in the tour.

"The ladies that man the thrift store also will be the ones to guide the tour," she said.

Carie and Howard Webb volunteer in the church gift shop.

"We had our big centennial," Carie said. "The church was packed and that was just so wonderful."

A donation from Mary Clark, town founder William A. Clark's daughter, made it possible for the church to be built.

"She donated the land to have this little church built in the memory of her son, who was only 5 years old when he died," she said. "I love this part because it ties our story all together."

Carie said parts of the church have changed over the years, like the recently remodeled pastor's office.

"We had lots of damage in here, even the furniture was damaged," Carie said. "Mostly it came from mold from the roof, so the whole thing has been gutted out."

Now all they need is to find a full-time pastor to share the office with the giant white teddy bear propped in a corner chair. They borrow now, but Father Richard Mallory used to commute from Phoenix to give Bible class on Tuesdays and for Saturday and Sunday service.

"And he had a motorcycle, and he rode with that teddy bear on the back," Howard said.

The Copper Art Museum is no longer in the line-up, there will be four homes to the usual five, and the smelter will add an extra feature to the tour.

"What's really taken over this year is the bank robbery," she said. "We're trying to make it very authentic with local people and vintage cars. We have a script, and people are owning their parts and we're able to use a business."

Wristbands given to people on the tour get customers 10 percent off at Clarkdale's two restaurants.

"It keeps people here, which is what we're trying to do, is open our community," she said. "We're still here as a community that's hung on and we're opening back up."

A coffee shop called The Caboose will be opening in March, and a small Italian restaurant is preparing to serve customers as well. The new Copper Art Museum opened Dec. 1 and Four Eight Wineworks recently opened its doors.

"This is huge for Clarkdale because it's been so quiet for so many years," she said.

Darren and Sandy Gemmill own the first stop on the tour at 1507 Main Street. The home was constructed in 1927 by the copper company for $3,727.

"They just recently took out all the carpeting and they're down to their wood floors," she said. "The maple floors were in upper town, pine floors are in lower town."

The entire area was separated based on social prejudice.

"White people lived up here, the white-collar workers lived up here," Emmett said. "Where you worked at the smelter determined where you lived in Clarkdale."

Prospectors in the area during the 1600s and 1700s brought burros with them, who stuck around to when copper company families were planting in their yards.

"The burros came in at night and they ate everything," Emmett said. "So they had to put up this fencing, and it was different fencing in upper town as opposed to lower town. Everything was very socially segregated."

Charles Scully owns the Spanish Colonial Revival at 201 South 15th Street, rented by Karen Bowers.

"This fence is original, but it's not quite as stylish as Main Street," Emmett said.

The house has the original metal garage, coal shed and chimney flue.

"This is one of my favorite houses on the tour because she's just decorating in a very mid century, '40s and '50s look," Emmett said.

Laura Jones owns 1508 Third South Street, a five-room tile home built in 1930 by the United Verde Copper Company. The front of the house has been updated with a new porch.

"Most people are really maintaining the integrity of the old style because they love it," Emmett said. "At the museum, the people that come in, they step into this town and they say, 'Where has this little town been for 50 years?'"

In lower town, the sidewalks are taller for drainage and lots are closer together. The homes themselves are smaller, with less detail, no porches and pine floors.

"If you were a laborer, you lived in the lower town or you lived in patio town, which was for the Mexicans," she said.

Helen and Deiter Bartel own 518 Main Street, built by the United Verde Copper Company in 1913 for $1,826. Its historic register status means the front is unchanged from the original design.

Deiter installed an office on the back of the property.

"He's done a lot of work to get this on the tour," Emmett said. "They put in new floors and so on."

Emmett said Curtiss Lindner and his girlfriend recently bought one of six homes in Clarkdale built with a fireplace. A foreclosure, it sold for $135,000 and will be rented for $850 per month.

Rooflines are uneven and each building in Clarkdale's center is a slightly different shade of red brick .

"Clark wanted each building to be distinct," Emmett said. "There's a design, there's architecture here, there's art."

The bank robbery will run three times in what is now the Four Eight Wineworks tasting room. Much of the inside has been kept authentic, like the teller cages' wooden facade and vault cage doors.

Ryan Nichols from Yavapai Broadcasting is going to be filming outside, with another camera inside.

Since the first video two years ago, Emmett said she considered putting up screens outside the bank that would project the robbery to the tour groups. Cost led to the creation of two fictional characters who are going to narrate from the sidewalk.

"In the past we've used a theater group from Prescott," she said. Two 1920s vehicles were found to make the scene more authentic.

Willard J. Forrester and Earl Nelson sat in their car for about an hour before robbing Bank of Arizona on June 21, 1928. Forrester got out of the driver's seat and used a woman collecting money for the Salvation Army as a human shield to enter the bank.

While Nelson lines the people in the bank up against the back wall, Forrester grabs more than $40,000.

"They know there's about $70,000 in the bank because it was payday for the smelter," Emmett said.

Bank Manager D. O. Saunders, his young son, two employees and five customers were then corralled into the bank vault, where Forrester is convinced to leave them with only the gate locked.

"There's 14 people in the vault, and Saunders says, 'Listen, you're already up for robbery, do you want to be up for murder too? Because we'll all die in here in 15 minutes,'" she said. "Saunders says, 'I promise we'll stay in here five minutes' so Forrester and Nelson leave the bank."

Saunders runs out of the vault, grabs his gun and starts shooting after the robbers, who have reached the corner of the T.F. Miller company store. Deputy Dheriff Jim Roberts is coming down the street and fires at the men, killing Forrester with a bullet to the head.

"Jim Roberts, he happened to be the deputy for the copper company. He's in his 70s, he was standing around the corner," Emmett said. "This is all true, which is what's so fun about it."

The car crashes into the newly constructed high school, and Nelson takes off on foot only to be apprehended by two nearby men.

Lee Snyder, telegrapher at the Clarkdale Santa Fe station, is hit by a stray bullet. Rather than going through Snyder's side, the bullet struck his pocketwatch, glanced off, left a welt on his arm, and struck Santa Fe station manager Omar Twitty on the chest, according to local historian Glenda Farley.

"The pocket watch is coming to Clarkdale from the family descendents," she said. "It will be on exhibit here in the bank."

Jim Roberts is going to handcuff Nelson and bring him back to the front of the bank building, concluding the the 90-minute tours that start at 9 a.m. and runs through 5 p.m.


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