Visitors to Jerome, Arizona are smart to choose Jerome State Historic Park as their first stop when they come into town, to discover the town’s rich and colorful history. Stories of wealthy mining families, town fires, floods, gambling, prostitution and ghosts are circulated at Jerome State Historic Park.
The park comprises the James Douglas family mansion, separate carriage house, and exterior exhibits of a stamp mill crusher and several mining cars. Jerome Historical Society maintains the Audrey Headframe Park, located just west of the mansion, also worth a visit.
When arriving in Jerome with our out-of-state guests, Jerome State Historic Park usually is our first stop. The five-dollar admission fee is money well spent. The 28-minute video presentation seems much shorter, probably because it’s packed full of exciting tidbits about Jerome’s most notorious characters and earthshaking events. I highly recommend seeing that video first, before you tour the rest of the mansion. Everything you’ll be seeing behind the display glass will make more sense, plus you’ll really have a greater appreciation of your other stops in historic Jerome.
At Jerome State Historic Park, you’ll learn about the Douglas family, the rise and fall of Jerome’s mining industry and other significant events, offering a deeper understanding of the town, its culture and colorful past. Plan to spend at least an hour at the park, if not more. Afterwards, you’ll want to take in all the panoramic views as you stroll around the grounds and exterior exhibits.
Interesting side note: the Douglas family didn’t spend much time at this mansion. It was used more for entertaining guests, investors and mining company VIPs. The home was a model for opulence, complete with wine cellar, marble shower, even a central vacuum system — very innovative for that time! But the mansion also served as party hall, as mine officials hosted a huge Christmas party for the miners and their families each year.
Tips for visiting Jerome: When planning a walking tour of Jerome’s shops and cafes, first pick up a historic building and business map at the visitor center. Consider parking at the spacious lot located just past the Fire Station on Perkinsville Road. That way, you’ll have an easy walk to the shops, starting at the United Verde Apartment building, then making your way down to each street level. The first Saturday of each month is the Jerome Art Walk.