Jerome, Arizona’s history is full of stories. These stories tell how the “Wickedest Town in The West” got its name and how men who sought their fortunes in this billion dollar mining camp lived, played and fought.
Once the fourth largest city in the Arizona Territory, Jerome boasted a population of nearly 15,000 on its hilltop haven. During its heyday, men and women from all over the world made their way to Arizona to find work and maybe a new way of life.
Today, when you visit Jerome and its historic buildings, you are given an opportunity to take a step back in time, feel the past and experience life as it might have been in Arizona’s rough and rugged days.
To help with your visit, the Jerome Historical Society’s Mine Museum, located on Main Street, has numerous displays depicting life in Jerome from its beginnings to its present time.
Another way the Historical Society preserves the past for the present is through its large archives. With over 11,000 photos, numerous maps, newspapers and documents all filed and easily accessed with the assistance of our Archivist, researchers are welcome.
The vision of The Jerome Historical Society (JHS) is a historical Jerome that is effectively preserved through the continuing creative efforts of the society and general citizenry. There will be a robust arts community, and the high school complex will be a vibrant social, cultural and economic center for the town. Parking and public transportation for residents and visitors alike will be adequate and reasonably convenient.
JHS will develop and effectively use its real estate holdings to help achieve the organization’s mission, and a majority of Jerome households will become members of the society. The museum will be enlarged and regarded as a destination historical museum in Arizona. In addition, mini-museums/historical displays will be located throughout the town, and a mine tour will be developed. The society’s archives will be completely catalogued and serve as an important research resource for scholars and other qualified individuals. Finally, JHS will collaborate with other organizations to provide regular, quality historical education programs to Verde Valley grade and high school students and make those programs available to other interested groups.
History of Jerome Historical Society
For more than half a century, Jerome was virtual a ghost town. It wasn’t until the formation of the Jerome Historical Society in 1953 and the opening of the Jerome Mine Museum that the town came alive. When the mines closed in the 1950s, the population of Jerome dwindled to a handful of people. The historical society struggled to keep Jerome alive, trying to achieve their dream of making Jerome the “greatest outdoor museum.” In 1956 the society completed negotiations with Phelps Dodge assuring that no more buildings would be torn down in the main part of Ghost City. In addition, the society succeeded in purchasing most of uptown Jerome, securing Main Street. Today, the Jerome Historical Society owns eight commercial buildings. The balance of the buildings owned by the society were sold back to the community and persons interested in historic restoration.
“…protect, preserve and present the unique physical and natural history of Jerome…for the benefit of residents and current and future generations.”
Board of Directors 2016
Steve Pontious, President
Allen Muma, Vice President
Frank Vander Horst, Treasurer
Mary Beth Barr, Secretary
Tracy Weisel, Sergeant of Arms
Mark Hemleben, Historian
Jerome Historical Society
PO Box 156
407 Clark Street
Jerome, AZ 86331
FAX (928) 634-7122