History Comes Alive On Main St. Walking Tour

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Residents and visitors can see Main Street from a new perspective this Saturday by participating in a brand new walking tour that features vivid descriptions of historic sites written by town historian Stan Brown.

The walking tour, which will become a regular Main Street attraction, incorporates a site-by-site guidebook written by Brown that participants carry with them as they progress from the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce office at the Beeline down Main Street to Green Valley Park. The guidebooks can be picked up at the chamber office or the Rim Country Museum, and the self-guided tour can be taken at any time of the day.

"Most towns of historic significance have walking tours, and for years I have suggested to the (northern Gila County) Historical Society that we develop a walking tour of Main Street," said Brown. "At last it has come to fruition."

For many years, Main Street was the social center for much of the Rim country, according to Brown. Once a dusty thoroughfare, it featured mercantile stores, saloons, hotels, boarding houses, livery stables, a blacksmith shop and a sawmill.

Far from a stodgy tour of musty old buildings, Brown says those who take the tour will find it most entertaining.

"I am vitally interested in the histories of the properties down there and a long time ago I began gathering any information I could find from diaries, reminiscences, old photos and other sources," he said. "Some fascinating events have happened at these locations, and that's what I've tried to capture."

Walking tour participants are also invited to attend a discussion at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the museum's upstairs exhibit hall on the difference between a historic district and a conservancy. "This is an excellent opportunity for residents to ask questions on the difference and gain an understanding of preservation in general," said Sharesse von Strauss, director of the Northern Gila County Historical Society.

The walking tour is sponsored by the Historic Preservation Conservation Commission, and is one of several events that organization has planned over the next few months. Also upcoming:

A Photographic Opportunity

On Saturday, March 9, residents are invited to help celebrate the 118th birthday of Payson by contributing to a pictorial history of the Rim country. Old photos can be brought to the community room at the Eastern Arizona College-Payson campus from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Photos can be of people, landscapes or activities that took place in and around Payson.

"Understanding that old photographs are valuable to a family's history, we will have computer reproductive equipment available so that (people who have old photos) may take (their) visual treasures home and still have them on display," von Strauss said. "Wonderful historic and irreplaceable photographs can be reproduced beautifully by modern technology."

Rim Country Photo History Exhibit

The following Saturday, March 16, an exhibit of the photos collected the week before will debut at EAC-Payson from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The exhibit will continue through April 6.

The purpose of the two events is to develop a permanent photographic collection of the history of the Rim country for future reference, according to von Strauss.

Payson History Day Celebration

Seven historic plaques will be placed at sites along Main Street as part of this day-long event on Saturday, April 27. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. at the chamber office and culminate at Green Valley Park and the Rim Country Museum.

Vignettes, re-enactments and historic music will be part of the celebration.

For additional information on any of these events, contact von Strauss at 474-8392, EAC at 474-2224 or the historical society at 474-3483.

The Historic Preservation Commission was established by the Town of Payson in 1999 to address such issues as the preservation and conservation of the town's cultural heritage, architectural compatibility, and the protection of archeological sites.

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