By Barbara Patton
Last week’s article recounted the events leading up to the agreement between the city of Prescott and Sharlot Hall which allowed her to move into the Old Governor’s House and make it a museum.
In March of 1928, Sharlot moved into a shabby and dirty old building. Sharlot’s cousin, Sam Boblett, helped her with the cleaning and necessary repairs to make the house habitable. Since her ranch in Dewey was for sale, Sharlot moved all her furniture to Prescott. She set up her bedroom and workroom in the attic garret, where she planned to do her writing. A water heater was installed and a kitchen was set up in the back of the house.
Once she was living in the old house, Sharlot could proceed with her restoration plans. The first order of business was a new roof, followed by a sturdy fence to enclose the land that would become a small park. The rustic stockade fence she erected was considered by some Prescott residents to be an eyesore.
She said, “My fingers itch to pull off the rustic which in October of 1899 was nailed over the old logs.” Sharlot was referring to the clapboards Joseph Dougherty used to cover the logs. She hoped to find the logs in good shape; however, she had studied current methods for restoring old log buildings and would do what was necessary to bring the building back to life.
Inside the house, there was old cloth and wallpaper to remove from the walls, and she was anxious to see the log beams on the ceiling. “I want to ‘claw off’ all the stuff that has been put over them year by year and see how they look from below.”
She planned to set up the museum like an old pioneer home. The kitchen would contain early cooking utensils and china, and the bedrooms would have old patchwork quilts. These she could supply from her own collection, but she welcomed donations from citizens throughout the county.
When Sharlot opened the Museum in June of 1928, many repairs were still needed. Cousin Sam started on the roof. Since he only worked partial days, it took time to finish. The siding remained nailed to the logs another year or so. It took several years to completely restore the building.
That winter was cold, and Sharlot moved to the St. Michael’s Hotel. Later, Sam helped her insulate her dormer bedroom.
Responding to questions regarding how she would finance all the needed restoration, she said, “It will finance itself in the start – – everybody will want to help a little for sheer love of pioneer days and the Old West that now only lives in a few places like Yavapai County.”
Her most significant financial help came from the newly formed Prescott Historical Society which was incorporated on May 24, 1929. This state-affiliated group was allocated $1000 per annum. In the following few years, Sharlot used every dollar of this to make repairs and updates to the old log house. Much of the money went to Sam Boblett for his labor and to purchase materials.
Sharlot was grateful for the influx of money, but beyond her current needs, she saw the Historical Society as an assurance the Museum would continue after her death.
After taking over the Old Governor’s House, Sharlot committed the remainder of her life to the establishment of an historical museum which would continue to grow and delight visitors for decades after she was gone.
Days Past” is a collaborative project of the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Prescott Corral of Westerners International (www.prescottcorral.org). This and other Days Past articles are also available at archives.sharlothallmuseum.org/articles/days-past-articles/1. The public is encouraged to submit proposed articles and inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact SHM Research Center reference desk at 928-445-3122 Ext. 2, or via email at email@example.com for information or assistance with photo requests.