Putting Globe on the Map

As the gritty old mining town tries to broaden its economic base, residents debate how much of its future lies in its past

There's no denying the cinematic appeal of Globe. Its old downtown is a throwback to the main street that Walt Disney was convinced Americans would want to see in a theme park. Stores beside stores. Houses just up the hill. Architectural details that stun folks raised on strip malls. And the sense that every necessary thing is a short walk away.

"That's one of the first things I rediscovered about this town," says Michael Day, a California transplant who ran unsuccessfully against Franquero in last March's election, and whose parents once lived in Globe. "When I got off the highway and got out of my car, I realized that it was a walking town. It was built as a walking town. The scale of things is wonderful. People lived in this downtown. And they walked to the Old Dominion mine [closed in 1931] to work."

Bob Moffett, who heads the Southern Gila County Economic Development Corporation, says, "It's telling that the people coming from the outside are more sensitive to the historical preservation and feel of the area than those who have lived here all their lives and taken it for granted. I think they want to come back to their roots and preserve those things that were near and dear to their hearts when they were growing up. It's kind of an emotional decision to preserve their past."

Some people say the town's time machine is locked into the 1920s and '30s. Others think it has a 1950s look. But Donna Anderson, a board member of the Historic Globe Main Street, and a former manager of Globe's Chamber of Commerce, says that years ago, when many of the shops on Broad Street were boarded up, "we decided our best bet was simply to do a 1910 Globe. That meant getting the grand style of the period buildings back, as much as we can."

Hollywood embraced that era when it filmed The Great White Hope here in 1970. Last month, moviemakers were back in town filming The Day October Died, a thriller--featuring a serious Tom Arnold--set in a more recent period.

Leaning against the long, sagging bar at the Drift Inn Saloon, a hulking two-story adobe at the low, north end of Broad Street, Bill McAllister, the movie's 63-year-old production designer, says towns like Globe are getting harder to find. A lot of them have gone the way of Sedona, Prescott and Jerome: too gentrified to be useful or authentic as backdrops.

"The script called for a real town," says McAllister, "one that was still working and hadn't lost all of its grit. There are elements of this town that still have the feel of a frontier. The copper mines might be drying up. But places like this," he says, nodding at the old bar and the two young women who own it, "seem to be giving people a new kind of future."

The bar's co-owners, Lisa Brazil and Eileen Townsend, came to Globe from Washington, D.C., less than a year ago. Like other new merchants in town, they sought to open a business somewhere beyond the suburbs. They scoured small towns in the East. Then they covered the West. Brazil says they wanted an affordable place with some character. And Globe scored on both counts. The 12,000-square-foot saloon cost about $125,000.

"We looked at Superior and I loved the old downtown there," says Townsend. "It has a lot of potential. But you just don't feel any life there. Here you can feel it."

"I think some of the older customers were a little concerned about these girls coming in from Washington," says Shirley Woods, who managed the bar for the previous owner and has continued to tend it. "They were worried that there might be too many changes. But they just want to bring out some of the beauty that's gotten covered up."

Brazil and Townsend say they don't expect the old biker bar to become a fern bar anytime soon. With a recent emergency Heritage Fund grant, they'll be able to fix the bar's sagging, probably rotted floor. But beyond that, the "girls," as everyone in town calls them, expect the restoration--the upstairs has been abandoned for years--to proceed, in Brazil's words, "one Budweiser at a time."

Next door, where Lisa Manzano and Jon Stahlnecker, who came to Globe in the early 1980s, are renovating another vintage storefront and brothel, the story is much the same. And up the hill on Broad Street, Mark and Candy Schermerhorn, recent transplants from the Valley, are converting the old J.C. Penney building--originally the Old Dominion Commercial Company--into a barbecue and brew pub.

Like Brazil and Townsend, the Schermerhorns had been looking for the right location for a couple of years before settling in Globe. They wanted a historic building, in an old downtown, not far from a major city. Globe had all of those things, at about a third the cost of a Prescott or another, more established tourist town.

"The thing that struck me about Globe," says Candy, "was there wasn't this prevalent small-town attitude here that says, well, you weren't born and raised here, therefore you can never succeed in a business here. It was possible to come up here and get to work."

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