Final rehab nearly complete for Florence’s Silver King Hotel

[Source: Florence Reminder, Bonnie Bariola] — The front page of the April 14, 1977 Florence Reminder and Blade Tribune was devoted to an article about the purchase of the Florence Hotel by Norm and Bonnie Conkle, who were going to rehabilitate and reopen the hotel.  The article states, “As envisioned by Conkle, the new Silver King Hotel will not only be a beautiful place for tourists to stay, but will be a tourist attraction itself.

The hotel was operating until the day Conkle purchased it.  At that time it was the oldest operating hotel in Arizona.  It catered to silver and gold entrepreneurs, cattle barons, and many of Arizona’s earliest statesmen. Unfortunately, the Conkle’s plans did not materialize and over the next two decades the building suffered extreme deterioration.

During those two decades Bill Coomer was constantly telling his wife, Katie Montaño, that “someone” needed to do something about the hotel.  Katie finally told him that instead of talking about it, why didn’t he do something. Unknown to Katie, Bill created the private nonprofit Florence Preservation Foundation (FPF) in 1993.  He also wrote a Heritage Fund grant application to be used toward the rehabilitation of the hotel.  In addition he wrote a letter to Ed Bass asking for his assistance with the project.  Once the grant application was funded, he shared with Katie what he had done.  Had she not “shamed” him into doing something, the building probably would have been razed since this was what a lot of people thought should be done with it.  [Note: to read the full article click here.]

Arizona archives get new, upgraded home

[Source: Mary Jo Pitzl, The Arizona Republic] — No more grandma’s attic for the state’s important papers and keepsakes.  Instead, the new Archives Building is a technological and climate-controlled wonder, especially when compared with the nearly 100-year-old space that housed everything from the original state Constitution to Wyatt Earp’s extradition papers.

The $38 million Polly Rosenbaum History and Archives Building, which opened late last fall, is being dedicated next week at a ceremony open to the public. It’s named after a long-serving lawmaker who was devoted to historic preservation and has already been dubbed “the Polly building.”  [Note: to read the full article click here.]

Arizona Highways features Yuma landmark

[Source:]  – – The January edition of Arizona Highways will be a special read for local folks, not just because the magazine will be debuting a new look, but because a cherished Yuma landmark will be in the spotlight.  That edition of the popular magazine will be dedicated to the “Top 25 Weekend Getaways” in Arizona. Local readers will be pleased to see that No. 14 is the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park.

Officials at the Yuma park said the honor comes as pleasant surprise. “It’s always an honor to be mentioned in Arizona Highways,” said Jerry Emert, park manager at the Quartermaster Depot. “Not to short the recognition that the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park gets, but they always seem to be the big draw in town for state parks. We’re quite pleased to hear that we’re finally getting a little recognition.”  [Note: to read the full article click here.]

Scaffolding off San Xavier Mission south of Tucson – for now

[Source:Fernanda Echavarri, Tucson Citizen]  – – Restoration of San Xavier Mission’s west tower is finished – just in time for Christmas Eve Mass.  After five years of work, the tower has been restored with the integrity of the church protected, said Vern Lamplot, executive director of Patronado San Xavier.

The restoration team removed the earlier coating of cement plaster inch by inch on the west tower’s exterior, repairing the historic brick beneath and refinishing the exterior surface with a traditional lime plaster, Lamplot said.

The west tower’s flawless finish contrasts with the original plaster on the east tower, built more than 200 years ago. The west tower restoration cost $5.5 million, Lamplot said, and the east tower will take at least three years and about $1.5 million to repair.  The mission has been undergoing a multimillion-dollar restoration project funded by Patronado San Xavier, a local nonprofit group, that began with the interior preservation in 1989. [Note: to read the full article click here.]