Goodbye to the Cuban Queen: A Lament for Ghost Town Ruins

Jerome, Arizona’s ruins are slowly disappearing. In March 2017, the roof of the Cuban Queen fell down, an iconic building that the Jerome Historical Society planned to restore.

The grand hulks that became symbols of the ghost town that it became known for—hospital, elementary school, Daisy Hotel and Douglas Mansion—have been restored and have become, respectively, the Grand Hotel, Town Hall, a private residence and State Historic Park.

Leigh and Richard weremarried here; kids loved to skateboard here; and the fire department benefits were great. Photo by Bob Swanson (Swansonimages.com)

Leigh and Richard were married in the Little Daisy; kids loved to skateboard theses floors; and the fire department benefits here were great. Photo by Bob Swanson (Swansonimages.com)

The floor of the Bartlett Hotel, the only ruin that remains on Main Street, is filled with coins pitched by tourists at an old outhouse and toilet and rusted mining artifacts. This odd coin toss earns as much as $6500 a year for the Jerome Historical Society.  Behind the shop now called Pucifer, the remains of the brick ‘cribs’, home of Jerome’s ladies of the night, were taken down by a previous owner to gain access to the back of the building.  The bricks were neatly stacked.  Then the bricks slowly disappeared.  As Jane Moore commented, it was a ‘crime.’

No cribs, no more. And where did all those bricks go?  (Photo by Bob Swanson)

No cribs, no more. And where did all those bricks go? (Photo by Bob Swanson)

The Jerome that I moved to in 1979 was still forlorn and decrepit looking, needing rescue. Today, Jerome has become modernized. Spiffed up. Gentrified.

This wreck was in old Mexican town below the post office. (Photo by Bob Swanson)

This wreck was in old Mexican town below the post office. (Photo by Bob Swanson)

Money flows in from tourist veins that are as rich as any gold mine. Over a million visitors a year come to shop, party in the bars, gawk at the views, and hear tales of bordellos, gunslingers, and ghosts. The shops are full of art, jewelry, and handmade clothing, award-winning wines and exotic olive oils.

Can this building be saved? It's the old Cuban Queen, symbol of the mining city bordellos. (Photo by )Bob Swanson

The Jerome Historical Society wanted to restore the old Cuban Queen, symbol of the mining city bordellos. Then the roof caed in. For those of us who lived in Jerome in the Jade/Rosie days, it was their home and magnet/tile making studio.  I still have some of them.  (Photo by Bob Swanson)

The names of many businesses play on the mythology of ghosts: The Haunted Hamburger, Ghost Town Inn, the Spirit Room bar, Ghost Town Tours, and Ghost Town Gear. The Grand Hotel provides ghosts meters to visitors interested in documenting their contacts. The annual Jerome Ghost Walk is one of the most popular events that the Jerome Historical Society produces. It draws many hundreds of people to its re-enactments of historic events.

Many don’t mourn the loss of ruins. Sometimes tourists fell off the old walls. Shopkeepers complained ruins were fire hazards and dubbed them liabilities. Many homes that once went for under a $1000 have sold for over a quarter of a million dollars. In the ghost town years, they were ripe for pickings and vandalism. Up to the 1980’s, residents would find people wandering through their yards, saying, “I thought this was a ghost town.”

The iconic T.F. Miller building was ordered to be torn down by Phelps Dodge in 1953. "Jerome is finished," a mine official said. Kids were paid a penny a piece to clean the bricks. (Photo courtesy: Jerome Historical Society)

The iconic T.F. Miller building was ordered to be torn down by Phelps Dodge in 1953. “Jerome is finished,” a mine official said. Kids were paid a penny a piece to clean the bricks. (Photo courtesy: Jerome Historical Society)

I never tired of walking among Jerome’s ruins. The shards of Jerome’s fabulous mining past were embedded in its abandoned buildings, crumbling walls, and collapsed roofs. Ruins shared visible histories of this once powerful and fabled city—“the richest copper mining city” in the West.  There were ghosts in those ruins; you could feel them.

The old bakery ovens are still hanging around in the back yard of one of my friends, (Photo by Bob Swanson)

The old bakery ovens are still hanging around in the back yard of one of my friends, (Photo by Bob Swanson)

Before new mine owners forbid walking down to the 500-level, I loved walking around the foundations of the housing units for mid-level employees (plumbers, carpenters, electricians). I loved sneaking into the old mining building known as the “Dry” with its rows of empty lockers and broken-up shower stalls. I could easily visualize 1500 miners simultaneously showering up after their shifts and hanging their clothes to dry on pulleys that hoisted them high into the rafters. Vaporous ghosts.

Interior of the Dry on the 500 level.  (Photo by Bob Swanson)

Interior of the Dry on the 500 level. (Photo by Bob Swanson)

For old-timers who return by the hundreds for the annual town reunion called “Spook Days,” ruins were the roots of their powerful attachment to Jerome. “I was only here from 1928-1948, but I feel a strong attachment to Jerome. No other place I’ve ever lived in have I felt that attachment,” said one old Mexican.

Another said, “I was only three years old when I left Jerome, but I remember things. . . I remember my father’s house. I remember the snow. And I remember sitting on my grandmother’s balcony at night, looking down into the valley. I could hear crickets and it was so peaceful.”

Ruins revealed oddities about people who used to live here. One of my favorite ruins was the old homestead where Father John used to live. When he died, he left behind a lot of junk: rusting cars, collections of stoves, and a room full of ladies shoes, singles only. Now what would a priest be doing with so many ladies’ shoes? Father John’s home mysteriously burned the night after he was found collapsed and dehydrated in his bedroom at the Catholic Church and was dragged to the hospital. Years later, the homestead was replaced with the new Gold King Mine, which includes a lot of old pre-fifties trucks, a museum of mining relics and old sawmill from Weed, California. There never was a mine there, much less one that mined gold.

A new town has emerged, full of its own colors and legends, a village of little crime and high spirits. The ghost town is all but gone.

One of my all time favorites ruins, now the cover of Rich Town Poor Town. It was in perfect splay when Bob took the shot. Then it fell down. (Photo by Bob Swanson)

One of my all time favorites ruins, now the cover of Rich Town Poor Town by Roberto Robago, a great book. The ruin was in perfect splay when Bob took the shot. Then it fell down. (Photo by Bob Swanson)

But when the oldtimers die, who will share the memories and secrets of old Jerome? And when the ruins are gone, where will the ghosts hide?

Updated from an earlier blog.

Ghosts of My Verde Street Home

If you are a student of Jerome AZ’s history, as I am, you study ghosts, the people that came before you, that grew up in the house you live in, planted the crab apple and apricot trees you eat from, plundered the mountain where you now walk your dog and try to figure out what they created or destroyed has to do with the present and future.” (From the prologue to Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City.)

Meeting the Ghosts  Sometimes you get to meet the ghosts that built the house you lived in; who whispered to you when you buried Whiskers the Manx cat near the apricot tree, “Thanks for giving us a cat to be our companion. We’ve been wishing for one for a long time.”

Verde Street Home in Jerome AZ

The house at the end of Verde Street in Jerome AZ built by Nikolai Domjanovich in 1926. (Photo by JoAnn Braheny)

I was visiting Jerome AZ in May and received a phone call from Barbara Beneitone, one of the children that lived in our home at the end of Verde Street before the mines closed. “My Mom and sister and brother are going to be in Jerome. We’d love to take you to lunch.” I had been corresponding with Barbara through Facebook: she was one my loyal blog readers. At Grapes Restaurant on Jerome’s Main Street, I met Barbara’s 91-year old mother, Doris and her first-born son Don Schumacher and his wife Mary, Barbara and her sister Suzy and her partner Roy Harbin. Missing were Louis and Debbie, two other children. Doris was a sturdy, lovely woman with a lot of energy and a big heart, much like her children. After lunch, we went over to their old house, unlived in since we sold it three years ago, full of foxtails, neglect, and a lot of memories. My husband Walt and I, children Max and Michael, Amanda the dog and Whiskers the cat lived there for 35 years. The house sits sentinel over Deception Gulch.

The Beneitone family in Jerome AZ

The Beneitone family in May 2014 on the driveway of the Verde Street home in Jerome AZ: left to right: Suzy, Barbara, Doris. and Don. (Photo by JoAnn Braheny)

History of the Ghosts

“The house was built in 1926 by Marguerite and Nikolai Domjanovich, my parents,” Doris told me. “They were Croats from Delnice, Yugoslavia.  I was 3-months old when we moved to the house. Mr. Lopez, Sr. helped us build it. He lived in the house below you. Sometimes the kids threw stones to see if they could hit his tin roof.” Doris and her husband and four kids lived on the bottom floor of that old house.  Suzy slept in the closet in the bedroom Louis, Don and Barbara slept in the hallway in bunk beds. Upstairs lived Mitzi Bobbitt, Doris’ sister and her husband. “We were one big happy family in a little house,” Barbara said.

The first house that Marguerite and Nikolai lived in was near the baseball field (now a big, open flat spot near the Gold King Mine). Nicolai’s brother George was accidentally killed by a baseball hitting his chest. The family built the home at the end of Verde Street because they did not want to confront the ghosts of that memory every day. The family and I walked back to the patio where Walt built his last wall, the one with the drill press embedded in it, and stood under the mesquite tree. It was a particularly tranquil, private spot. The men admired the walls. I told them Walt built ten massive walls to protect the house from tumbling down the mountain. Don showed me the remnants of the walls his father built. I showed him the one Mr. Bobbitt built.

Drill press wall Jerome AZ

Wall with drill press in Jerome AZ built by Walter Rapaport. (Photo by Diane Rapaport)

The apricot tree their family had planted just below the patio was still there, barely alive through a few winters of drought and disregard. They made jam from the fruit, Don told me. Just below was the garden his parents kept, full of beets, turnips, cabbage and carrots. Doris made sauerkraut from the cabbages in barrels located in the old shed. She’d serve it with ‘pigs in the blankets.’ The spot was protected from the smoke of copper smelters in Cottonwood and Clarkdale AZ. “On special occasions, we’d go up to Walnut Springs for a picnic and a swim with pails full of sauerkraut and potato salad,” Don said. The remains of the concrete swimming pool are still up there.

The old Walnut Springs Pool near Jerome AZ

The swimming pool at Walnut Springs, two miles up the mountain from Jerome AZ circa 1918. (Private collection)

Their father and grandfather were miners, such a different life than the one we led in Jerome. What seemed like plundering the mountain to me was a better job for their grandfather and his brother than ones in the mines in Michigan, where it was brutally cold, and those in the low-ceilinged coal mines of New Mexico, where her grandfather to had to work stooped. He was six feet, nine inches tall and had to work stooped. Most of the family moved away in 1950. The men helped tear down the interiors of the electrical plumbing and woodworking buildings on the 500-level and recycle tools and materials for mining elsewhere. Doris’ widowed mother stayed behind. She did not want to leave Jerome. I stood with Doris at the top of the steps. “My grandfather made the copper railings and set them in iron pipes.” It gave us something to hang on to when we went down the two sets of steps. By now they were tipping toward the patio ten feet below the wall. Where my peace roses still bloomed was the location of an old bin for storing coal for the stove her mom and she cooked on.”

The Tug of Jerome

I didn’t have much desire to go down those steps with Don, Barbara and Suzy and look around. Neither did Doris. We hadn’t back since we left and we felt sad.  Lifetimes had passed, not to be measured in years. We both had tears. What we had in common is our love of Jerome, the home that meant so much to all of us in our lives, the children that grew up there and scrambled over those craggy cliffs like goats. We understood without words what it was to feel the tug back as we left Jerome for another life in another city, another set of people and circumstances. Doris and her family had always hoped to move back to that house. For them, as for me, Jerome was a favored place on earth and we shared an almost supernatural attachment to it. For us this crazy, patchwork town will always be home sweet Jerome.

Lament for Ghost Town Ruins

Jerome, Arizona’s ruins are slowly disappearing. The grand hulks that became symbols of the ghost town that it became known for—hospital, elementary school, Daisy Hotel and Douglas Mansion—are restored and have become, respectively, the Grand Hotel, Town Hall, a private residence and State Historic Park.

Leigh and Richard weremarried here; kids loved to skateboard here; and the fire department benefits were great. Photo by Bob Swanson (Swansonimages.com)

Leigh and Richard weremarried here; kids loved to skateboard theses floors; and the fire department benefits were great. Photo by Bob Swanson (Swansonimages.com)

The floor of the Bartlett Hotel, the only ruin that remains on Main Street, is filled with coins pitched by tourists at an old outhouse and toilet and rusted mining artifacts. This odd coin toss earns as much as $6500 a year for the Jerome Historical Society.  Behind the shop called Skyfire, the remains of the brick ‘cribs’, home of Jerome’s ladies of the night, were taken down by co-owner Michael Farcas to gain access to the back of the building.  The bricks were neatly stacked.  Then the bricks slowly disappeared.  As Jane Moore commented, it was a ‘crime.’

No cribs, no more. And where did all those bricks go?  (Photo by Bob Swanson)

No cribs, no more. And where did all those bricks go? (Photo by Bob Swanson)

The Jerome that I moved to in 1979 was still forlorn and decrepit looking, needing rescue. Today, Jerome has become modernized. Spiffed up. Gentrified.

This wreck was in old Mexican town below the post office. (Photo by Bob Swanson)

This wreck was in old Mexican town below the post office. (Photo by Bob Swanson)

Money flows in from tourist veins that are as rich as any gold mine. Over a million visitors a year come to shop, party in the bars, gawk at the views, and hear tales of bordellos, gunslingers, and ghosts. The shops are full of art, jewelry, and handmade clothing, award-winning wines and exotic olive oils.

Can this building be saved? It's the old Cuban Queen, symbol of the mining city bordellos. (Photo by )Bob Swanson

Can this building be saved? It’s the old Cuban Queen, symbol of the mining city bordellos. For those of us who lived in Jerome in the Jade/Rosie days, it was their home and magnet/tile making studio.  I still have some of them.  (Photo by Bob Swanson)

The names of many businesses play on the mythology of ghosts: The Haunted Hamburger, Ghost Town Inn, the Spirit Room bar, Ghost Town Tours, and Ghost Town Gear. The Grand Hotel provides ghosts meters to visitors interested in documenting their contacts. The annual Jerome Ghost Walk is one of the most popular events that the Jerome Historical Society produces. It draws many hundreds of people to its re-enactments of historic events.

Many don’t mourn the loss of ruins. Sometimes tourists fell off the old walls. Shopkeepers complained ruins were fire hazards and dubbed them liabilities. Many homes that once went for under a $1000 have sold for over a quarter of a million dollars. In the ghost town years, they were ripe for pickings and vandalism. Up to the 1980’s, residents would find people wandering through their yards, saying, “I thought this was a ghost town.”

The iconic T.F. Miller building was ordered to be torn down by Phelps Dodge in 1953. "Jerome is finished," a mine official said. Kids were paid a penny a piece to clean the bricks. (Photo courtesy: Jerome Historical Society)

The iconic T.F. Miller building was ordered to be torn down by Phelps Dodge in 1953. “Jerome is finished,” a mine official said. Kids were paid a penny a piece to clean the bricks. (Photo courtesy: Jerome Historical Society)

I never tired of walking among Jerome’s ruins. The shards of Jerome’s fabulous mining past were embedded in its abandoned buildings, crumbling walls, and collapsed roofs. Ruins shared visible histories of this once powerful and fabled city—“the richest copper mining city” in the West.  There were ghosts in those ruins; you could feel them.

The old bakery ovens are still hanging around in the back yard of one of my friends, (Photo by Bob Swanson)

The old bakery ovens are still hanging around in the back yard of one of my friends, (Photo by Bob Swanson)

Before new mine owners forbid walking down to the 500-level, I loved walking around the foundations of the housing units for mid-level employees (plumbers, carpenters, electricians). I loved sneaking into the old mining building known as the “Dry” with its rows of empty lockers and broken-up shower stalls. I could easily visualize 1500 miners simultaneously showering up after their shifts and hanging their clothes to dry on pulleys that hoisted them high into the rafters. Vaporous ghosts.

Interior of the Dry on the 500 level.  (Photo by Bob Swanson)

Interior of the Dry on the 500 level. (Photo by Bob Swanson)

For old-timers who return by the hundreds for the annual town reunion called “Spook Days,” ruins were the roots of their powerful attachment to Jerome. “I was only here from 1928-1948, but I feel a strong attachment to Jerome. No other place I’ve ever lived in have I felt that attachment,” said one old Mexican.

Another said, “I was only three years old when I left Jerome, but I remember things. . . I remember my father’s house. I remember the snow. And I remember sitting on my grandmother’s balcony at night, looking down into the valley. I could hear crickets and it was so peaceful.”

Ruins revealed oddities about people who used to live here. One of my favorite ruins was the old homestead where Father John used to live. When he died, he left behind a lot of junk: rusting cars, collections of stoves, and a room full of ladies shoes, singles only. Now what would a priest be doing with so many ladies’ shoes? Father John’s home mysteriously burned the night after he was dragged to the hospital. Years later, the homestead was replaced with the new Gold King Mine, which includes a lot of old pre-fifties trucks, a museum of mining relics and old sawmill from Weed, California. There never was a mine there, much less one that mined gold.

A new town has emerged, full of its own colors and legends, a village of little crime and high spirits. The ghost town is all but gone.

One of my all time favorites ruins, now the cover of Rich Town Poor Town. It was in perfect splay when Bob took the shot. Then it fell down. (Photo by Bob Swanson)

One of my all time favorites ruins, now the cover of Rich Town Poor Town by Roberto Robago, a great book. The ruin was in perfect splay when Bob took the shot. Then it fell down. (Photo by Bob Swanson)

But when the oldtimers die, who will share the memories and secrets of old Jerome? And when the ruins are gone, where will the ghosts hide?

The Big Spliff: The Kids That Dared D.A.R.E.

About a year after the pot bust of 1985, the Clarkdale Elementary School set up a precursor to the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program. Mr. Steele, the fifth-grade teacher, brought in a policeman, whom he introduced as Officer Friendly.

My son Max and his best friend Omar, politely listened and watched the videos and movies about how smoking pot led directly to heroin, meth, crack, and cocaine addictions. Alcohol was seldom mentioned. They tried to figure out how the information presented squared with all the adults they knew that only smoked pot and seemed pretty mellow. Although their parents were not involved in the bust, Max and Omar knew about it and accepted their parents’ position that few pot smokers were ever involved in violent crime.

After every educational program, Officer Friendly invited the kids to rat out their families or friends. “It’ll be a secret between us,” Officer Friendly said. Max and Omar had heard the stories about the snitch and the big bust in Jerome, they knew that a snitch was the worst kind of person.

At the end of the semester, the kids were asked to present skits about what they had learned. Max and Omar paired up and were the last to make a presentation.

They went into the hall to get into their costumes. When they walked back into the classroom, Omar had transformed himself into a cliché of the drug dealer—trench coat, big pockets, hat pulled over his forehead, sunglasses, and gold chains. Even though he was not yet twelve, he was almost six feet tall and his size made kids think he was formidable, and not to be messed with. However, Omar had a very tender heart and never got into fights.

Max had changed into a clean shirt, pressed trousers, the epitome of the kind of clean-cut kid you who would never associate with drugs. He was shorter than Omar by a foot and a half, fair-haired and fair-skinned. He had a beatific smile that made him look, well, maybe not quite angelic, but perhaps trustable; a kid every mom could be proud of. Max and Omar were best friends: Omar was the gentle giant and Max was the offbeat sidekick.

“Hey Max,” says Omar. “I just got some dynamite Panama Red. Want to smoke a joint?”

“Oh no, Omar, but thanks anyway,” Max said.

“How about some ‘Maui Zowie’ that my friend just brought back from Hawaii. You hardly ever see that around any more, Max. It’s awesome.”

“Sorry, Omar, I have to say no to Maui Zowie today.” Max smiled.

Officer Friendly beamed. It was just the way he had taught the kids to respond when someone offered to get them high.

“But Max, Max, here’s something I know you won’t turn down. I got hold of an old Thai stick, and man, is that some heavy-duty pot.”

All of a sudden, from under his shirt, Max whipped out an eight-inch long, cigar-thick spliff, rolled in newspaper, which he pretended to light. “Well, Omar, the thing is, I have some of my own.”

After no more than five shocked seconds, the room erupted in a roar as the kids rocked with laughter. The teacher could not be heard over the pandemonium for quite a few minutes and ordered Max and Omar to go to the principal’s office.

The principal was friendly with many Jerome parents and was known in some circles for his own hell-raising ways.

“Look,” he said to Max and Omar. “We know what goes on up there with you hippies, but you don’t have to parade it around. Try and mellow out.”

Max and Omar became heroes. For years, the kids told the story to one another. After all, Max and Omar had “dared” the powers that be. And, maybe more importantly, they got away with it.


 

The 7-Up Billboard Bites the Dust—Love in the Wild 70’s

I interviewed Charles Matheus in 1996; he had come back to Jerome to visit his mother. I asked him about what it was like to grow up here with the hippies. He chose to tell me this story about his parents and their friends, part of the older generation of eccentrics that had moved there in the sixtiesl

“I felt like I was surrounded by love. Before I talk about love, I have to talk about the billboard. In 1973, one of the focal points of conversations among my family’s friends was how to get rid of the billboard. It was the only billboard for 50 miles around and it was right at the apex of the curves. It took up the whole of our friend’s Larry Ahern’s living room window, a hideous “7-Up Power” ad in paisley flowers of Day-Glo orange/green/fuchsia. In an election year, the ad was temporarily replaced by an ugly mug of a sheriff running for the county spot against the USA’s red white and blue.

“One day, the billboard was gone. Most people thought it was Katie Lee who took it down. She was considered a radical before anyone knew the width of that word. In those years, she was a Western singer who sang about cows, horses, prostitutes and the disappearance of real cowboys.

“Ten years later, I was reminiscing with my Mom, just before I went to college. 
‘Wasn’t it great when Katie Lee cut the billboard down.

‘That wasn’t Katie, that was your father,’ said Mom. ‘One night he and his buddy Larry were sitting at the dinner table getting pissed off and they decided to do something about it. They went into the coal shed and got the blue chain saw they used to cut wood from up on Mingus. They made three cuts and toppled the billboard into the weeds, where it still lays.’

During an investigation of the crime, Winnie Foster, one of our friends that had moved to Jerome in the 1960s, confessed that she had done it, but the cops didn’t believe her. By that time, she was getting on in age and had broken a hip. She told us she wanted to spend a night in jail as part of her ‘bucket list.’ Winnie lived in a blue and white house across from the Methodist Church that her friends and family called “Foster’s Folly” because they thought she was crazy to buy a home in Jerome.

“My father died when I was young. I can’t describe what it is to feel proud of someone I hardly knew, nor can I tell you what’s it’s like to love someone who’s gone, but that’s love and love is hard to talk about.”

A Legacy of Art: The Family of William Andrews Clark

In 1988, I made a visit to the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. to see the fabulous art collection bequeathed by the late William Andrews Clark. He was the owner of Jerome, Arizona’s United Verde Copper Company, the legendary mine that was once the nation’s largest copper producer.

There I saw some of his fabulous collection of 16th century Italian majolica pottery, rare Gobelins tapestry, the lovely ballerinas painted by Degas (I have a small black and white Degas sketch that my mother left me), and the Salon Dore, which was in the middle of half a million dollar renovation.

Degas_26_74-w300

I watched French artisans meticulously restoring the extensive gold leaf in the Louis XIV Salon Dore, which was in the midst of renovation. The room used to be in Clark’s New York mansion. The ceiling of the salon was a large canvas that was painted by the great French artist Jean-Honore Fragonard. Clark’s daughter Huguette contributed $50,000 to the restoration.

The Corcoran Gallery of Art's Salon Dore used to be in the New York mansion of William Andrews Clark.

The Corcoran Gallery of Art’s Salon Dore used to be in the New York mansion of William Andrews Clark. Prior to that it was part of a French Palace.

Although William Andrews Clark was the owner of the United Verde Copper Company, the largest mine in Jerome, few people in Jerome recognize his name. The historical society’s Mine Museum gives him a photo and a few scant paragraphs. In 2012, the chief sales person could not tell me anything about him. “I’m just learning about Jerome,” she told me.

Perhaps his name will become more familiar because of the book, Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newall, Jr. which became a New York Times best seller after it was published in 2013. Huguette was one of America’s great heiresses and the only remaining child of both W.A Clark’s first and second marriages.

Until her death in 2011, few people in America had heard of her either. It took a few weeks, and a phone call from local geologist Paul Handverger, for The Verde Independent newspaper in Cottonwood, Arizona to figure out that the death of W.A. Clark’s daughter merited an obituary.[1]

During the mining heydays, people in Jerome talked about the billions Clark made in the Jerome mine and other business ventures and the scandal he caused when he bribed his way into being elected as a United States senator.

Only a few people knew that Clark’s private passion was art.

William Andrews Clark in Jerome, Arizona.  Courtesy of the Herbert V. Young Collection of the Jerome Historical Society.

William Andrews Clark in Jerome, Arizona. Courtesy of the Herbert V. Young Collection of the Jerome Historical Society.

Jerome, Arizona, early nineteen hundreds. Courtesy collection of Herbert V. Young, Jerome HIstorical Society

Jerome, Arizona, early nineteen hundreds. Courtesy collection of Herbert V. Young, Jerome HIstorical Society

View of Jerome and Cleopatra Hill from the old cemetary. Photograph by Bob Swanson (Swanson Images.com)

View of Jerome and Cleopatra Hill in 1985  from the old cemetary. Photograph by Bob Swanson (Swanson Images.com)

Today, few people in Jerome recognize the name of William Andrews Clark. The Jerome Historical Society’s Mine Museum gives him a photo and a few scant paragraphs. The museum’s gift shop manager that I talked with in January 2013 did not recognize his name. “I’m just learning about Jerome,” she told me.

During the mining heydays, people in Jerome talked about Clark’s billions and the scandals caused when he bribed his way into the United States Senate (he resigned rather than become impeached.)

Few people in Jerome know that Clark’s private passion was art.

The New York Mansion that Became Clark’s Private Art Museum

In 1908, Clark completed construction of his fifteen million dollar, 137-room, nine-story mansion on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 77th in New York, known popularly as ‘Millionaires Row.’ A huge copper dome that glittered in the sun topped the mansion. One popular writer of New York society called the mansion a “rusticated and encrusted folly spewing an anthology of over-blown detail taken from every county courthouse and Victorian city hall, plus a ridiculous steeple.”[2]

The mansion contained four large art galleries, lined with red velvet, which were filled with hundreds of French paintings by Corot, Degas, Renoir, Monet, Van Dyck and Rembrandt, rare laces from Belgium and Venice, a large collection of Italian Majolica pottery, Persian rugs and rare Gobelins tapestries. Clark shopped for much of the art himself. He loved his treasures.

The mansion that William Andrews Clark built on Millionaire's Row in Manhattan in 1912.

The mansion that William Andrews Clark built on Millionaire’s Row in Manhattan that was completed in 1912.

The crusty New York Society shunned Clark, his very young second wife Anna, and their daughters Huguette and Andree.

Huguette Clark (left), her father William Andrews Clark, and daughter Andree (right).

Huguette Clark (left), her father William Andrews Clark, and daughter Andree (right) taken in Butte, Montana.

They called Clark a quick boy, a slur that referred to his being born in a poor family and making his money too quickly. {2}

When Clark offered his art collection to the governing board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, made up of many of the snobbish robber barons and their wives, they turned it down. According to newspaper accounts, the public reasons were that the collection was too ‘spotty,’ and came with too many strings attached.  Clark bequeathed his collection to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. After his death, his wife and daughters contributed the equivalent of nine million dollars to build a wing to house the collection.

The mansion was willed to Huguette and four children by his former marriage. Huguette moved out. The other siblings had no will to live in it or maintain it. The building sold for 3 million and was torn down by its new owner to make way for an apartment building. Many of the furnishings were sold at auction. [3]

A Passion for Art

Clark’s passion for art extended to his family.

Anna, Clark’s second wife, loved chamber music, and was a musician dedicated to learning to play the harp. She not founded the famed Paganini Quartet, and purchased four Stradivarious instruments for the musicians to play on.  (Andree, her other daughter, died when she was seventeen.)

William Andrews Clark, Jr., a son by his first wife, and a violinist, founded the Los Angeles Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. An avid collector of English history and literature resulted in his bequeathing 13,000 volumes to UCLA and the building that housed them, along with an endowment of $1.5 million.  It is now known as the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. The library has grown to contain 980,000 volumes. The only restriction in Clark’s will was that the books could only leave the library for repairs.

Huguette was a fine arts painter and a collector of art, including paintings by Monet and Renoir. She played the violin and in the fifties purchased one of Antonio Stradivari’s very finest violins called “La Pucelle,” or “The Virgin.” The tailpiece depicts Joan of Arc, the virgin warrior, a story much loved by Huguette.

Huguette’s major passion was the collecting, outfitting and housing of French, Japanese, German and American dolls. She meticulously researched homes to fit their lifestyles and their furnishings and spent millions in commissioning artisans to build them.

In a settlement of Huguette’s will, her  eighty-five million dollar seaside mansion known as Bellosguardo, in Santa Barbara, California become an arts foundation and would receive fifteen percent of her fortune (4.5 million in cash) and the doll collection that was valued at 1.7 million.[5]

It is a sadness to me that the William Andrews Clark family whose legacy includes the twin pillars of both history and art on which Jerome has become famous should be so forgotten, ghosts that inhabit the ethers of Jerome but not many memories.


[1] Ayers, Steve, “Poor Little Rich Girl,” The Verde Independent, June 8, 2011. http://www.verdenews.com/main.asp?SectionID=74&SubSectionID=114&ArticleID=42352  (Huguette died on May 24, 2011).
[2] Simon, Kate. Fifth Avenue: A Very Social History. Harcourt Brace Jovanovish, New York and London: 1978, page 219[3]  David Montgomery, staff writer for The Washington Post, wrote this blog on January 31, 2013.
[3} Dedman, Bill and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune. Ballantine Books, New York, 2013, page 119.
[4] Dedman, op cit., pp.  274-276.
[5]. Dedman, op cit., pp 294-300.

Headless Ghosts: Jerome, AZ Mining Days

Papa Lozano’s father came to Jerome in the early 1900’s from a village in Sonora, Mexico where he worked on the assembly line in a sewing machine factory. His boss regularly beat him for minor infractions. After his boss slit off a corner of his ear, Lozano ran away, came to Arizona and signed on as a mucker for the United Verde Copper Company, owned by Williams Andrews Clark.

Deep under the ground, six days a week, Papa Lozano stood ankle deep in an oozy muck and shoveled newly blasted ore into carts. The drilling and blasting around him would produce a layer of fine dust that slowly infected his lungs and caused pneumoconiosis.

Life was hard, but there was no anxiety. The bosses were strict but not cruel. They allowed the muckers an after shift shower on company time in the building on the 500-level that was known as “The Dry.”

After his shift, Lozano would trudge with 400 other miners out of the belly of the mountain, blackened with muck and dust and climb the steps of the building known as “The “Dry.” He pissed shoulder-to-shoulder with his compadres in the long rows of urinals, set up like horse troughs along the building’s insides walls.

Photo by Bob Swanson (www.Swanson Images.com. The urinals in the Dry. The building has been razed.

Photo by Bob Swanson (www.Swanson Images.com. The urinals in the Dry.

He pulled off his steel toed boots, placed them in lockers, and stood shoulder to shoulder with his compadres under the long rods with the shower heads, still fully dressed, to rinse off the muck and the dust. He undressed and hitched his clothes to pulleys and hoisted them high up into the rafters to dry for the next day’s shift. Then he showered again, the steam smelling of sweat, urine and rock. Above, suspended clothing swayed slightly in the rafters, vaporous headless ghosts of the 400 men underneath.

Photos of the Dry by Bob Swanson (www.SwansonImages.com).

Photos of the Dry by Bob Swanson (www.SwansonImages.com).


Lozano was paid $2.00 a day for a 12-hour shift.

Perhaps only in comparison could you say that a life like that was sweeter or better.

(Diane Rapaport interviews with Papa Lozano and Andy Peterson (1981-1991)