By Bob Difley
The Wild West was typified in the settling of Arizona as migrants, Civil War veterans, gamblers, gold seekers, missionaries, and flim-flammers headed west to seek their fortune.
The town of Prescott – if you can call a hodgepodge of tents and crude cabins a town – became the first territorial capital, and the first governor’s mansion was built in 1864. Hardly a mansion by today’s standards – it was a log cabin built from Ponderosa pines cut in the surrounding forests – it was the home to the first governor.
Now a museum complex a few short blocks from the plaza in downtown Prescott – the assemblage of historic buildings and permanent collections, including the Sharlot Hall Museum – makes it the largest museum complex in central Arizona.
Changing exhibits illustrate the early days of Prescott and the Arizona Territory. The museum staff, actors and volunteers also present a variety of live programs such as festivals, theater performances and living history reenactments that depict the area’s rich regional heritage.
The museum buildings include the Fremont House built in 1875, home of John Charles Fremont while he served as Arizona’s fifth Territorial Governor, and Fort Misery, built in 1863-64 – the oldest standing log building in the Arizona Territory.
Scattered around the museum grounds you will also find replicas of a typical ranch house and a schoolhouse of the period, an authentic 1885 iron turbine windmill relocated from a local ranch, a vehicle collection, and a variety of gardens including the Rose Garden with more than 260 rose bushes honoring Arizona’s pioneer women. The museum is located at 415 West Gurley Street in Prescott.
You’ll also find seasonal activities featured at the museum. As might be expected, Christmas is now the focus – check out the website for dates.
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