Historic Building Walking Tour
WALK CAMP VERDE'S HISTORY
THIS SELF-GUIDED TOUR created by the Camp Verde Historical Society includes thirteen historic buildings dating to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The buildings present a range of construction methods and materials, including adobe brick, hand-milled limestone blocks, rough-hewn pine boards, and ferro-cement. Some of the buildings on this tour scarcely resemble their original structure, while others retain many historic features.
ALL TOUR STOPS are within walking distance of the Camp Verde Historical Society (Stop 1) and are marked with plaques. Sturdy walking shoes are recommended. Bring plenty of water and portable shade in the summer. Please note that Stops 5 and 13 are private residences and visitation is not permitted.
FORT VERDE STATE HISTORIC PARK offers informative displays of U.S. Army life during the Indian Wars of 1871-1875 and is within easy walking distance from Camp Verde's Main Street.
CLEAR CREEK CHURCH is not included on this walking tour, but the historic structure is easily accessible via a paved country road. The Camp Verde Historical Society oversees the maintenance and preservation of the church and its grounds.
Printed tour brochures are available at the Camp Verde Visitor Center.
Tour Stop 1: Camp Verde Grammar School, 1914 Open or Close
434 South Main Street, Camp Verde, AZ 86322
The local school district superintendent laid the stones for this three-room grammar school building in 1914. He completed the structure during summer breaks. It was the first school building in Camp Verde. Constructed of hand-milled limestone dug from a local quarry, the Colonial Revival structure also features a vintage tin ceiling and original wood floors. Note the metal rosettes on the iron lintels, and the wooden shakes on the porch gable end.
Today, the Camp Verde Grammar School building serves as the home of the Camp Verde Historical Society Museum and Research Center, as well as the Camp Verde Visitor Center. Tour the Society's collection of local ephemera and Native American artifacts, browse the library, schedule a research session, or visit with resident old-timers to learn more about Camp Verde's early days, as well as some of the area's Native American history. Visit the adjoining Visitor Center to learn about the area and its many attractions.
Tour Stop 2: Grandma's Rental Cottages, c. 1932 Open or Close
493 South Main Street, Camp Verde, AZ 86322
Josephine Frederick was one-of-a-kind, a California girl who immigrated to Beaver Creek in 1899 and ranched with her husband. After his death in 1902, the mother of seven moved to Camp Verde and began ministering to the area's sick, needy, and unfortunate. She purchased the Valley Hotel from J.R. Boyers circa 1916 and ran the business for fifteen years. Known as "Grandma" to her boarders, Frederick managed the hotel until 1930 when she turned its operation over to a Mrs. Keese.
The hotel burned down in 1932--the largest fire in Camp Verde's history. Frederick used the $2,000 insurance payment to hire a carpenter to build two small wood frame cottages on the site, renting them until her death in 1937. The cottages were originally front-gabled, and the two separate buildings can still be seen on the north and south facades of the present building. Circa 1979, workers connected the two cottages under one roof, adding the front porch, a tall parapet, board-and-batten siding, and a continuous storefront to the remodeled structure.
None of the cottages' original decorative features are visible under the present exterior.
Tour Stop 3: Dance Hall, c. 1915 Open or Close
545 S. Main St., Camp Verde, AZ 86322
The center of early-day family entertainment, the old Camp Verde Dance Hall was a porch-less, one-and-a-half story, wood framed building with a concrete foundation and few windows. The arched roof is a notable and unusual feature along Camp Verde's Main Street. Fred Stephens and Bill Verden built the hall for Russ Mulholland circa 1910-1920. Tom Goswick ran the dance hall in the 1920s, and the building served as home to the 'slipper-slide and wiggle-tail glide' on Saturday nights for a decade after its construction.
The dance hall was converted into a roller skating rink in 1930, and afterward was transformed again into a small Bechetti Theater that showed the latest monochrome movies. Later, the building was repurposed as a feed store, saddlery, and finally as a grocery and liquor store. It continues to serve as a home for several locally owned Camp Verde businesses.
Tour Stop 4: Stage Stop and Boarding House, c. 1875 Open or Close
567 Main Street, Camp Verde, AZ 86322
William ‘Boss’ Head, a sutler at Fort Verde from the early 1870s to 1890s, built the south wing of this adobe brick stage stop and boarding house circa 1875. The south wing has high tongue-and-groove ceilings, plaster walls, and wide plank floors. The north wing of the building, along with the structure's minor Spanish Colonial Revival touches, were added in the 1970s
As a sutler, 'Boss' was a civilian merchant who sold goods and provisions to the military and its personnel. Knowing that the new Copper Canyon Road, completed in 1875, would bring more people to the Valley, Head constructed this small building to house long-haul travelers, visiting military employees, and others coming and going by stage and wagon.
After the road's completion, stagecoaches connected the settlement of Camp Verde and Dewey via Cienega Stage Station, near today's intersection of Interstate 17 and Arizona State Route 169. Weekly mail came and went between Camp Verde and Sunset Crossing (today's Winslow) via Stoneman and Mormon lakes through Beaverhead Station, located near the Village of Oak Creek and where, today, a monument commemorates the stage station site.
Two agonizing hours after he was shot in a robbery, entrepreneur and local store owner Clint Wingfield died by the fireplace in the front room of this building. Visit Stop 6 for more information about the Wingfield Store.
LOOK FOR a plaque on a large nearby boulder that commemorates the lives of Wales and 'Aunty' Arnold. The Arnolds grew the Verde Valley's first successful alfalfa crop in 1868 at a homestead near Montezuma Well, using water drawn from ancient irrigation ditches. Wales became the owner of the Sutler's Store after his business partner died in a skirmish with Yavapai-Apaches near the top of Grief Hill.
Tour Stop 5: Head House, c. 1873 Open or Close
17 Salt Mine Road, Camp Verde, AZ 86322
William Stanford Head was a central figure during Camp Verde's founding years. Head acquired the nickname "Boss" after the way he bullied the territorial legislature after his appointment in the late 1870s. In 1870, Head purchased the sutler business from Wales Arnold and Hugh Richards, and began constructing the adobe Sutler's Store (Stop 6) in 1871. Head & Co. controlled a sizeable portion of Yavapai County's early commerce, and bid for contracts to supply wood, hay, and grain to Camp Verde and Fort Whipple (Prescott).
The Head House is architecturally significant as an excellent example of vernacular construction and as Camp Verde's oldest surviving civilian-built structure. While the builder is unknown, it may have been Edwin Nurser/Nursey, a local master stonemason who built the Clear Creek Church and the Henry Wingfield House. The Head House is constructed of locally quarried ashlar limestone with sandstone lintels. The house has a central stairwell, four-inch tongue-and-groove flooring, bulls-eye molding on the interior window and door trim, and a stained glass transom over the five-panel front door.
The Head House remains a private residence; visitation is not permitted.
Tour Stop 6: Sutler’s Store/Wingfield Building/Camp Verde State Bank, 1871-1916 Open or Close
564 South Main St., Camp Verde, AZ 86322
Three historic buildings are visible from this stop: the Sutler's Store (1871), the Wingfield Building (1911), and the Camp Verde State Bank (1916).
The adobe bricks in the southernmost walls of the Sutler's Store were laid in 1871. Built and briefly run by early-day Yavapai County financier Huge Richards, the Sutler's Store is the Verde Valley's oldest standing commercial building. After its construction, it remained the area's only viable mercantile business until the mid-1870s. The sutler provided items to the troops that were not available through the military, and it supplied soldiers and settlers with groceries, dry goods, mining supplies, animal feed, and even bottled water. In addition to its role as local commercial center, the Sutler's Store served as the community's only post office, telegraph station, bank, and trade, collection, and bartering agency.
In 1898, William "Boss" Head sold the operation to Mac Rogers and Clinton Wingfield. A few months after the purchase, an outlaw murdered Rogers and Wingfield in the store on a Sunday evening in July, 1899, during an armed robbery. The business partners were buried together in the historic Clear Creek Cemetery a few miles to the southeast. Although Tom 'Black Jack' Ketchum was hung in New Mexico for the crime, the identify of the actual killer remains unknown.
W.G. and R.W. Wingfield took over the business in 1909, and extensively remodeled the adobe structure. During the remodel, the Wingfields plastered the adobe brick walls and reoriented the building to face east, not north. In 1911, the owners added a new store building constructed of reinforced concrete. They added the concrete Camp Verde State Bank building in 1916. These buildings have changed little since their construction, and this complex is Camp Verde's best example of historic-era commercial architecture.
LOOK FOR the plaque near the north end of Wingfield Plaza that honors the horse-riding mail carriers who traveled between Camp Verde and Payson, 1884-1914.
Tour Stop 7: Verde Valley Mercantile Company, 1917 Open or Close
514 Main Street, Camp Verde, AZ 86322
The Verde Valley Mercantile building is associated with the growth of commerce and automotive transportation in Camp Verde during the 1910s and 1920s. Organized by partners Heath, Back, and Taylor, the building is made from poured concrete. In its time, this was considered a stylish and modern construction method. The Mercantile competed with the established Wingfield Commercial Company, a business that, by no coincidence, was housed in a nearby reinforced concrete building.
The Verde Valley Mercantile carried a "full line of merchandise" and even issued its own coins. Later, the Mercantile building housed the Ford, Dodge, and Hudson dealership, a business that also retailed Goodrich Tires.
Tour Stop 8: Joe Lane’s Red Star Saloon, 1900 Open or Close
396 South Main Street, Camp Verde, AZ 86322
Like so many historic buildings on Camp Verde’s Main Street, the building known today as the Montezuma Inn has experienced many incarnations. Constructed as the Joe Lane Saloon, the building was also known as the Red Star Saloon due to the colorful stenciled star over the door. The original structure included a false front facade to give the cheaply built wood building a more imposing appearance. Its glass entry door opened on to Lane Street, later renamed Hollamon Street.
Over time it was also a cafe, a hotel and the Trailways Bus Depot. In its role as the Depot, the building had Camp Verde's first pay telephone, which had slots for nickels, dimes, and quarters. If you were handy, you could substitute a dime by 'punching a nickel' and make your calls for half-price.
The Red Star Saloon, the building now houses a collection of small businesses and remains one of Main Street’s most iconic structures.
Tour Stop 9: Wingfield Store/Boler’s Bar, 1933 Open or Close
325 Main Street, Camp Verde, AZ 86322
The Boler’s Bar building is associated with commercial development along Camp Verde's Main Street during the 1930s. It was originally built by twin brothers Claude and Ralph Wingfield as a grocery store in 1933. Constructed of 1" x 12" exterior boards with no supporting studs over a foundation of limestone taken and repurposed from Fort Verde's abandoned buildings, the original structure was hastily constructed by the Wingfield twins over the course of three days. Despite its hurried construction, the building remains a good example of twentieth century western vernacular commercial architecture.
The Wingfield brothers hoped to compete against their uncle, Robert W. Wingfield, who owned the large mercantile at the other end of Main Street. Finding the competition too tough, the twins gave up after less than a year and used their new building to store animal feed. After a series of short sales, Otto Boler, a “short fat Dutchman,” purchased the building in 1935 and turned it into the bar that would eventually become a Camp Verde institution. Never much interested in catering to his customers' needs, Boler did not even include stools until patrons threatened to take their business elsewhere.
When the bar closed in 2010, it was the town’s longest continuously operating business.
Tour Stop 10: CWA Jail, 1933 Open or Close
44 East Hollamon St., Camp Verde, AZ 86322
When the military abandoned Fort Verde in 1891, it left the Camp Verde community without a jail. It was not until 1933 when Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal offered federal money for public projects that the town obtained the funds to construct a new jailhouse. A Prescott stonemason lead a crew of ten men from the Civil Works Administration (CWA) in constructing the new 20 by 28 foot building made of poured concrete walls decorated with local river cobbles. Built over a four-month period, the new jail is a wonderful example of Verde Valley Depression-era vernacular architecture.
Camp Verde has several other New Deal projects still visible in the downtown area. Look for the Works Progress Administration's (WPA) stamp in the retaining wall in front of the Camp Verde Visitor Center and the WPA 'modern sanitary privy' on the grounds of the Camp Verde Historical Society's Hance House (Tour Stop 12).
The CWA-built jail served the community until the early 1960’s. After its retirement as a jail, residents used the structure as the town library for several years. Camp Verde Historical Society restored the two-cell jail in 2010, spending some 2,000 volunteer hours on the project.
Tour Stop 11: Old Camp Verde High School, 1918 Open or Close
395 South Main Street, Camp Verde, AZ 86322
Constructed in 1918, the old Camp Verde High School is now part of the Town of Camp Verde’s government office complex, housing the Public Works, Parks and Recreation, and Finance offices. The school slowly evolved from an older, abandoned two-room military building made of wood.
The transformation from military building to high school began in 1918 when voters approved a $6,000 bond to construct three classrooms and an office; a cafeteria, a gymnasium, and six additional classrooms were constructed later. The school's first students found soldiers' letters dating to the 1870s in the basement of the original military structure. School plays, graduation, sports games, and other community events took place in an adjoining large Quonset hut.
Tour Stop 12: Hance House, 1917 Open or Close
112 South Coppinger Street, Camp Verde, AZ 86322
Built in 1917, the Hance House was constructed next to the surgeon's quarters at Fort Verde for George Washington Hance, one of the valley's most illustrious residents. The building is a strong example of a side-gabled vernacular house in Camp Verde.
George Hance and his brother arrived in the Verde Valley in 1868. Over time, he became involved in many aspects of life in the region. He was Camp Verde’s first postmaster and served for over 20 years as the Justice of the Peace for the Lower Verde District. Hance also served as a notary public, school board secretary, road supervisor, majordomo, tax assessor and first secretary of Arizona's Republican Party.
In the 1870s and '80s, Hance operated Cienega Stage Station, a favorite overnight stop for travelers. He also supplied wood and hay to the army and was active in numerous fraternal organizations. An anti-prohibitionist, even though he never drank, Justice of the Peace Hance was famous for swearing-in witnesses on a copy of Dana’s Mineralogy, a geology textbook he believed was of “equal importance” to the Bible.
The Hance House is owned and maintained by the Camp Verde Historical Society. It is available for tours during Fort Verde Days celebrations, special events, and by appointment. The house is completely furnished with period furniture and household accessories, as well as tools, art, books, clothing and other miscellaneous items.
Tour Stop 13: Camp Verde Armory, c. 1871 Open or Close
Camp Verde, AZ 86322
Constructed of locally handmade adobe bricks, the Camp Verde Armory is the oldest U.S. Army structure in the Verde Valley. It served as a storehouse for munitions and armaments necessitated by General George Crook's upgrading of army equipment, supplies, and personnel during the 1870s.
The Armory is located on private property; visitation is not permitted.