“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page” – Saint Augustine
I love this quote, but I’ll admit, the first time I read it I don’t believe it resonated with me then as much as it does now. Five years of traveling full-time in a RV has opened my eyes to all kinds of new experiences and landscapes.
I’ve always enjoyed travel which is probably why I pursued a career as a Flight Attendant when I was younger. But gallivanting around the country can be tiresome and sometimes a break from travel is exactly what the soul needs.
With that said, Al and I are doing a little ‘homesteading’ this summer in Prescott, Arizona. We’ve settled into an RV Park for the next several months while we focus on a little rejuvenation …. for us and our aging equipment!
Oh, that doesn’t mean we’ll be sitting in a couple of rocking chairs watching the world go by. No, not us! Hmm …. now that I think about it, does sitting outside with a cocktail in hand while watching the sunset count? Or how about binge watching Downton Abbey or House of Cards? Okay, maybe a little rocking chair time is part of the rejuvenation plan 😏 Yeah, a little down time and settling into a neighborhood is just what the doctor ordered. But anyone who knows me, knows I can’t sit still for too long.
Exploring the local life
So it’s time to explore some of the local sights and take in a little history. When I was younger, I rarely embraced history or historical sites. I’ve always enjoyed geography and studying maps, but the interest in history didn’t kick in until we started RVing full-time. Travel has a way of opening one’s mind!
First off, did you know Prescott was at one time the Capital City of Arizona? Yep, from 1864 to 1867 Prescott was the capital until 1867 when it then moved to Tucson but returned back to Prescott in 1877. Finally, the State Capital moved from Prescott to Phoenix in 1889 where it has remained.
Prescott’s downtown historical area is known as Whisky Row which up until 1956 was a notorious red-light district. In 1900, a great fire destroyed almost all of the buildings along Whiskey Row. Legend has it that the patrons of the various bars simply took their drinks across the street to the Courthouse square and watched the buildings burn, but the patrons of the Palace Restaurant and Saloon removed the entire bar and hauled it to the square as the fire approached. The solid wood bar was later re-installed after the gutted brick structure was rebuilt. That bar remains in use today.
The Palace Restaurant and Saloon was originally built in 1877, and was rebuilt after the 1900 fire. It is now the oldest continuous business in the entire state of Arizona. Past Patrons include the Earp Brothers and Doc Holliday and well-known movies have been filmed here.
Sharlot Hall Museum
I have fun using the term “homesteading” when Al and I park the RV for an extended period of time, but when I think of the pioneers homesteading after crossing the country in covered wagons, I’m reminded how cushy my life is in comparison.
Being a woman entrepreneur in the early 1900’s was no small feat. I’m always awed and inspired by strong women in history. Sharlot Hall was a poet, author, historian, activist and ranch woman whose passion to the preserve the Territorial Governor’s Mansion led to the making of this museum.
I happen to visit the museum on June 11, 2018, as the museum was celebrating its 90th anniversary. The grounds are lovely and each historical building I stepped into had a Docent dressed historically correct, and each Docent was eager to share their historical knowledge on their area of the museum.
Some of the on-site buildings ….
Governor’s Mansion – built on site in 1864, this log structure housed the first territorial governor, John Goodwin. In 1928, Sharlot Hall opened the log-building as a museum.
Across from the Governor’s Mansion is the Victorian Fremont House. Built in 1875, it was home to the fifth territorial governor of Arizona, John Charles Fremont.
The Bashford House was built in 1877 by merchant William Coles Bashford and is a beautifully restored Victorian style home.
The Ranch House was built in the 1930’s to represent early ranch homes of the area. It’s a little one room log structure. The Docent shared an interesting tale of the stove costing around $100 but the shipping cost was around $1500. That was a lot of money over a hundred years ago … hey, it’s still a lot of money today. Guess they didn’t have Amazon Prime free shipping back then 😆
Fort Misery is the oldest log building associated with the Arizona Territory. Built in 1863, here you’ll find the local attorney. Interesting that they would put the words misery and attorney together!
The School House building is a replica of the first public schoolhouse in the Arizona Territory which was built in Prescott in 1867. Each child’s chalk board reminded me of today’s iPad.
The Blacksmith Shop and Transportation Building were also interesting.
For a couple of hours, it was fun stepping back in time and imaging what life was like over 100 years ago. The Sharlot Hall Museum was a worthwhile stop that I was glad I took the time to visit.
Prescott is located in North Central Arizona and sits at an elevation of about 5,400 feet. The town has received numerous designations.
- Prescott was designated “Arizona’s Christmas City” by Arizona Governor Rose Mofford in 1989.
- 2000: Downtown Historic Preservation District (which includes “Whiskey Row”) —one of 12 such National Register Historic Districts within the City.
- 2004: A “Preserve American Community” in 2004 by First Lady Laura Bush.
- 2006: One of a “Dozen Distinctive Destinations” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
- 2008: Yavapai Courthouse Plaza recognized as one of the first ten “Great Public Places” in America by the American Planning Association.
- 2012: Number 1 True Western Town of the Year for 2011 by True West Magazine and One of the 61 Best Old House Neighborhoods in the U.S and Canada by This Old House Magazine.
Parks, hiking and lakes …
There’s more to Prescott, Arizona, than its Old West history. Guess I better strap on the hiking shoes, charge up the camera battery, and get outta that rocking chair. Time to explore!
Shows we’ve been watching (affiliate links) Downton Abbey
House of Cards
The 1970’s movie, Junior Bonner starring Steve McQueen, was filmed at the Palace Saloon in Prescott, Arizona
Junior Bonner: The Making of a Classic with Steve McQueen and Sam Peckinpah in the Summer of 1971 (Hardback)THE Magnificent Seven – Junior Bonner – Steve McQueen Double Feature