[Source: The Zonie Report, July 28, 2008] — The steady gaze of Ernest McFarland, who in the mid-20th century served Arizona as a U.S. senator, governor, and state supreme court justice, looks down on every visitor to the state park that bears his name, a restored frontier courthouse in dusty Florence, built in 1874. “We will never be perfect in our government, but high ideals can predominate,” reads a brass plaque beneath the portrait, quoting one of McFarland’s favorite sayings.
Yet perfection is hardly the word that comes to mind during a tour of McFarland State Historic Park. Massive cracks stretch from floor to ceiling on more than one of the building’s original adobe walls. A support beam braces a crumbling exterior wall, keeping the wall and sections of roof from collapsing. In another room, which over the years served variously as a jail, county hospital and prisoner-of-war camp, caution tape warns visitors to avoid a gaping hole in the floor.
“McFarland did a lot for this state and this community, and I think he would be very saddened if he saw the condition of this building today,” says assistant park manager Terri Leverton. [Note: To read the full blog entry, click here. To read the February 4, 2009 blog entry noting The Zonie Report’s “scoop” on the story months before the mainstream pressed picked it up, click here.]