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Day Trip and Daydreams of Jerome AZ

“House of Joy” Bordello Boutique

I recently took a road trip through Arizona. One of my favorite stops (besides the Bead Museum) was the town of Jerome. It’s an old mining town, build along the cliffs overlooking Sedona and the Verde Valley. The town has a colorful history. In its heyday it was a bustling mining town, and a hotbed for drinking, gambling, gun fights and brothels (that’s the “Reader’s Digest” version — you can read more here and here ;).

balcony at the House of Joy

Around the time of the Great Depression, the mine was nearly tapped out and ore prices dropped dramatically, so people began leaving in great numbers — in the 1920’s, the town’s population dropped to a whopping 50 people. In 1952 the mine officially closed down, leaving Jerome a ghost town.

Connor Hotel

It was rediscovered in the late 60’s by a group of “counterculture artists” (hippie freaks?) who moved in and began to restore the old buildings. They revitalized the town, and over the years it became a haven for artists, writers and musicians. These days it’s a little touristy, but not obnoxiously so. The quirky town is filled with great galleries filled with original art and craft. It’s a beautiful place with a funky, colorful vibe — an old west gambling town turned artists’ haven.

We only spent a few hours there this time, but that was more than enough time for me to fall in love with the place.  I moved away from Arizona over 15 years ago, and despite the fact that I still have family there, I’ve never really wanted to move back. This visit to Jerome made me re-think that. I doubt I’ll be moving back to the southwest any time soon, but if I did, this is where I’d want to be. I’d love to open a quirky gallery/bead shop in one of the funky old (haunted?) buildings, and enjoy the panoramic view of the sunset over the Verde Valley every day.

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