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Home tour features the old & the new of Jerome
Written by Lu Stitt   
Friday, 20 May 2011 00:00

One of the more popular events in Sedona and the Verde Valley is coming up when Jerome residents open their homes to the public.

Large windows with expansive views highlight the McDonald-Thompson house, one of the modern structures on the tour. This year’s tour features seven homes and one church and runs the gamut from the totally remodeled to the completely untouched.On Saturday and Sunday, May 21 and 22, people will have a chance to see inside some of the historic homes for the 46th annual Jerome Historic Home and Building Tour. Eight buildings will be featured. Many have preserved the charm and fixtures of yesteryear from 50, 60, even 100 years ago.

There will be a guided tour, and transportation will be provided from one location to the next, event coordinator Donna Chesler said.

Two of the homes are side side-by-side — one old, one new — to offer a look at life in Jerome past and present. Another will be in its pre-renovation condition.

“People can see the before and come back at a later tour to see the after,” Chesler said.

Each house is named, usually after the original owner. However, much of the history of subsequent owners is included in the oral presentations.

The side-by-side houses are located on Verde Avenue. The Wingfield home was built in 1904 by James Wingfield, whose family is associated with the early days of Camp Verde. Not much is known about the home’s life under the Wingfields, but there is some firsthand history about the next owners, George and Anna Maglicic.

“My mom, Katherine, grew up in this house,” Andy Groseta said. He is a well-known Verde Valley rancher and came up to the home for a preview tour. He talked about memories of visiting as a youngster with his grandparents.

As Groseta walked through the rooms, the first time in years, he talked about the things that are the same, such as the hardwood floors, wainscot walls and wood ceilings, and about the changes.

“This front section here off the living room was a beauty parlor. My Aunt Ann, my mother’s sister, did hair,” Groseta said.

New and old connect at the Wingfield house, one of the stops on the tour.When Groseta walked into the kitchen, he said it was rearranged from what he remembered, although the new stove and refrigerator are designed for the period the house was built.

“There was a big stove that used to sit where the refrigerator is, and I remember sitting right here drinking coffee when I was around 5 or 6,” Groseta said as he pointed to the area where the kitchen table used to be. “My grandmother started me drinking coffee, which my mother didn’t like. I’d walk up the hill to the Thornbeck Bakery.”

Groseta said his parents would bring him and his siblings up from their Bridgeport ranch to have Grandma and Grandpa Maglicic babysit.

Down a steep stairwell in an anteroom off the kitchen is the basement that has been converted into living space. It wasn’t always.

“This is where they made wine. It was part of the culture,” Groseta said. “They’d bring the grapes in through the big doors and put them in tubs. I remember stomping grapes.”

In an adjoining room, Groseta said he remembered a line of racks along the wall with three layers of wood barrels filled with wine.

“Grandpa George was in charge of the big pumps in the mine, and they boarded many miners, especially those who came here from Croatia. My grandparents were Croatian. They came here when it was still part of Yugoslavia with the shirt on their back by train from Ellis Island to Jerome. This was where the work was,” Groseta said.

Next door is the three-story McDonald — Thompson home built in 2007. Jennifer McDonald and Michael Thompson are the first owners. It is filled with an eclectic mix in an old mission style with wood trims and floor. The master bath has a walk-in shower that extends the width of the wall behind the vanity.

Upstairs is a great room with the kitchen and living area. It is surrounded by an abundance of windows with wide views of the Verde Valley, the red rocks and San Francisco Peaks.

“It’s like living in a tree house with all the natural light,” Thompson said.

Another home featured during the tour will be Lil’s Place, also known as The Black Cat. It was owned and operated by Lillian Douglas as a house of ill repute from the 1920s into the 1940s. With few women in town, the “girls” found plenty of men willing to pay for their services.

On July 7, 1931, Juanita Marie “Sammie” Dean was strangled in a room on the second floor, but her assailant was never found.

Glen Baisch bought the home in the 1980s and started to rebuild, using as much original material as possible. Today, the building is owned by a Jerome resident who rents its room, but not for the original purpose. Many people who have lived in the home claim to have had spirit encounters, Chesler said.

The Williams home was built in 1917 and had been in the same family for 85 years until the current owner bought it and made a commitment to a total renovation. A stark example of the difficult economic times in Jerome over the years is represented on the west side of the building, which is covered in different varieties of roofing shingles. It is the home that is under renovation.

The Wingfield house, located on Verde Street, will be one of seven homes and one church featured on the 46th annual Jerome Home Tour taking place Saturday and Sunday, May 21 and 22One of Jerome’s oldest homes is the Anderson house built in 1890. It has been completely restored. In the 1950s, Winifred Foster bought the home and filled it with antiques. The next owner, Ana Dering is best know for her line of clothing, Alfredo’s Wife.

The remains of the large ovens can still be seen in the Baker’s house, which was built in 1912. The bakery closed in the 1950s. The home sits on four lots and includes a parking area. It is now a triplex. Original cut stone walls remain in the bottom portion of the building. The current owners, Jerome Police Chief Allen Muma, and his wife, Jackie, have added gardens and patios.

Two other buildings are on the tour: The famous, or infamous, Lawrence Memorial Hall known as “Spook Hall” is one. Built in 1917 as a garage, the building became the home of J.C. Penney in 1937 and was one of the company’s largest stores until it closed in 1953.

The building soon became the official community hall for Jerome.

The Haven United Methodist Church building took 27 years to complete. The parishioners first started having services in Jerome around 1900, but soon wanted a “proper” church. An article in a 1927 newspaper reported the $16,000 church was almost complete. Today the church is used for weddings and weekly services.

“I’ts nice to see these wonderful houses live on,” Chesler said.

The Jerome Historic Home and Building Tour is the oldest in the state of Arizona. Tickets will be sold on Main Street near the old firehouse from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. The tour takes about two hours. The cost is $12 for adults and $6 for children.

Unfortunately, the tour includes many steps, hills and winding paths, so it is not handicapped-accessible. No pets or strollers are allowed on the tour, Chesler said.


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