Pioneer Living History Museum 1863-1912
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VICTORIAN HOUSE (ORIGINAL BUILDING)
This house was built in the early 1890’s on an 80-acre homestead in Phoenix which was acquired by John Marion Sears. The grounds included orchards of apples, peaches, apricots, pears, figs, and almonds as well as a pump house and a windmill. In addition to the orchard, the Sears maintained a dairy. Sears lived here with his wife Mary and their daughter, Ella, and two sons, Perry and George. Originally located at 4032 North Seventh Street, the property lines fronted Central Avenue extending from Thomas to Indian School Road.
Before Phoenix developed a railroad connection in 1887, the transportation of lumber was dependent upon expensive freight-wagon shipping. Therefore, most buildings in the Phoenix area were built of adobe bricks. When the railroad made the shipment of lumber for building more affordable, there was a boom in building. This house was among the earliest total frame houses in Phoenix.
In May of 1969, the Sears home was scheduled for demolition in 30 days. It was donated to Pioneer Arizona and the Foundation scrambled to raise the $5,000 needed to move it to the museum grounds. During restoration, a section of the original wallpaper was discovered beneath the dining room plate-rail.
This exhibit is not meant to represent the Sears home or their furnishings when they lived there, but rather depicts a typical 1890’s middle class Phoenix dwelling with a parlor, music room, kitchen, and two bedrooms.
OPERA HOUSE (ORIGINAL BUILDING)
Mr. James Howey, a blacksmith in Prescott, was erecting a two-story building when he entered into a contract with the Goldwaters to use his building as a general store. In 1876, the Goldwaters opened their first store in Prescott using Howey Hall and maintained their operation there for three years.
Howey sold the building to Levi Bashford, who built a stage on the second floor and opened a theater with a seating capacity of 200-250 people in 1882. This Opera House, still known as Howey Hall, featured such attractions as John Drew and Lily Langtree, the famed “Jersey Lilly.” He later remodeled, adding dressing rooms and installing upholstered chairs. About the same time, he installed an ice-skating rink downstairs.
In 1891, owners H.D. Aitken and B.M. Goldwater gutted the building and moved the theater to the ground floor. At the Grand Reopening, local artists performed Gilbert and Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore.” In 1894, the Opera House was deemed “unsafe,” and after hosting lectures, services and a few last performances, the building ceased to function as a theater after 1899.
It then became a second hand store. Since the building had such a good location, the city bought it in 1904 and turned it into a fire station. When Prescott built a new fire station in 1956, the building was used as offices for the city. In May 1959, Howey Hall was torn down. The bricks were acquired by Pioneer Arizona and used in this authentic reconstruction of the building as it stood during its Opera House period.
MUSEUM OF TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH HISTORY
The Museum of Telephone History features interesting and informative displays of the Telephone and the Bell System from Alexander Graham Bell to Today.
The telegraph and telephone are very similar in concept, and it was through Bell’s attempts to improve the telegraph that he found success with the telephone. The telegraph had been a highly successful communication system for about 30 years before Bell began experimenting. The main problem with the telegraph was that it used Morse code, and was limited to sending and receiving one message at a time. Bell had a good understanding about the nature of sound and music. This enabled him to perceive the possibility of transmitting more than one message along the same wire at one time. Bell’s idea was not new, others before him had envisaged a multiple telegraph. Bell offered his own solution, the “Harmonic Telegraph”. This was based on the principal that musical notes could be sent simultaneously down the same wire, if those notes differed in pitch.
By the latter part of 1874 Bell’s experiment had progressed enough for him to inform close family members about the possibility of a multiple telegraph. Bell’s future father in law, attorney Gardiner Green Hubbard saw the opportunity to break the monopoly exerted by the Western Union Telegraph Company. He gave Bell the financial backing required for him to carry on his work developing the multiple telegraph. However Bell failed to mention that he and his accomplice, another brilliant young electrician Thomas Watson, were developing an idea which occurred to him during the summer. This idea was to create a device that could transmit the human voice electrically. By June 1875 they realized their goal of creating a device that could transmit speech electrically would soon be realized. Their experiments had proven different tones would vary the strength of an electric current in a wire.’
Enjoy this interesting exhibit which showcases the early stages through today in telephone and communications equipment.