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

But that doesn't mean the improvements have put smiles on everyone's face. When Sarah Day boasts that the Gila Valley Bank and Trust Company building she and her husband, Michael, restored as a boutique is their "gift to the city," some lifelong residents confide they see it another way. Impressive as the Days' and other restorations on Broad Street are, many Globers fear their downtown isn't being reborn for them. It's coming back for tourists--outsiders.

Maybe that explains the city's official nonchalance in the case of the now-extinct former stagecoach depot, the Enders building. The city ignored its own HP ordinance, requiring that the historic commission publicly review proposed changes to that or any building in the downtown historic district. City officials say they had little choice, because the commission wasn't active. "I don't know what we would have saved it [the Enders property] for anyway," says city inspector Joe Carrillo, who's responsible for enforcing the ordinance. "There wasn't anything there really worth saving." Carrillo says it was common knowledge the building was coming down.

But many downtowners disagree.
"I had called over to the city and asked them what was happening with the house," says Carolyn Beydler, a lifelong Glober, downtown merchant and member of the newly reconstituted historic preservation advisory commission, which was sworn in last week. "Last I heard was they were looking into preserving it. Then I came to work one morning and here was half the house sitting in a front-end loader."

Bill Long, a well-known real estate agent whose family has been in Globe since the 1870s, says he had much the same impression: "I wasn't worried about it, because I just couldn't believe they were going to bulldoze it without at least having some kind of a hearing."

However, that's exactly what the city did.
Franquero concedes the city council never discussed the demolition in public, and made its decision to clear the property at an executive session closed to the public.

"Rather than create a real rhubarb over whether to save it or demolish it," says former Councilman Stan Gibson, "I just went along with the rest of the council. Maybe it was a mistake. But we evaluated it for two or three months before deciding to tear it down."

Gibson says he mentioned the impending demolition to Robert Frankeberger, the SHPO architect who had conceived the historic preservation workshop for Globe and had come to town to help conduct it.

"I talked to him about it," Gibson recalls, "because I thought if somebody from the state SHPO talked with some of the other city officials, they might have looked at it differently."

Frankeberger and SHPO's head, James Garrison, say Gibson pointed out the building during a tour of downtown. "The building wasn't in the best of shape," recalls Garrison, who is known throughout the Southwest as an authority on adobe buildings. "At the same time, the adobe structure itself appeared to me to be something you could work with. It wasn't so structurally unsound that imminent demolition was required." Garrison says town officials never asked him to formally examine the building. However, his take was its restoration wouldn't have cost anywhere close to the $100,000 and $150,000 estimated by various city officials.

"There are times when I come in contact with people who really can't explain the actions they've taken," he says mildly. "And they come up with what I'd put on the side of irrational explanations, like: It's going to cost way too much money to restore that little building. Well, I know that's not true.

"Adobe is mud. And the adobe was probably right there on the ground beside the building. You don't even lose the material at the site. It's just sitting there. They could have melted it down, mixed it up and patched the building."

Town preservationists say city officials should know those basic adobe facts by now. Since the 1980s, Globe has been developing the Besh-Ba-Gowah archaeological park, an adobe and stone Salado Indian ruin about a mile and a half from downtown, into a tourist attraction. Since 1994, the city has spent more than $500,000 on a visitors' center and other improvements there.

Garrison says the city--despite Stratton's claim to the contrary--easily could have secured an emergency grant from the state's Heritage Fund similar to the $9,000 one it received to help restore the old drugstore on Broad Street. But city officials never asked.

A few days after the preservation workshop, Frankeberger called Stratton and told him the city at least should postpone the demolition until measured drawings and photographs could be made of the building.

Stratton followed his advice. But the resulting drawing and snapshots don't reveal nearly as much about the building as this year's city-issued calendar does. The featured photo for January shows the town in 1880. The old stagecoach station appears amid the cluster of buldings as a small, squarish structure with a flat-roofed front room and slant-roofed rear.

"It wasn't a county courthouse or a church, or necessarily a spectacular piece of architecture," says Garrison. "What you had was a rare example of a once-common type. And it just may have been the oldest building in the community--certainly a symbol of the community's origins." Local preservationists say the Enders incident wasn't the first time the city lost some of its downtown heritage. Fires have claimed numerous distinctive buildings over the years. And old-timers recall that in the 1950s, when the Arizona Department of Transportation widened Broad Street to accommodate growing truck traffic, the facades on three blocks of storefronts on the eastern side of the street, from about Mesquite Street to Yuma Street, were sheared back by some 14 feet.

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