Main Street Remakes History

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Payson's historic Main Street district underwent some dramatic changes in 2003 -- both on the street and behind the scenes.

Main Street Project Manager Karen Greenspoon resigned to take a position in the Tucson area and was replaced by 57-year-old Carol McCauley.

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Members of the Zane Grey Cabin Foundation were on hand for the dedication of the site where a historic replica of the noted western novelist's "hunting lodge" will be built. Former Channel 10 news anchor Bill Close is at the far left, and the Mysterious Rider, a character from the Zane Grey novel of the same name stands directly behind the word "ZANE." Grey's cabin -- lost in 1990 during the Dude Fire -- will be built in Green Valley Park through the efforts of the nonprofit foundation.

A member of the Oceanside City Council in California for eight years, McCauley was the council's liaison to the city's Main Street program.

McCauley, who assumed her duties on Sept. 29, said her biggest challenge so far has been, in a word, infill.

"We have a lot of vacant properties," she said, "and when you're trying to create an atmosphere that is continual for people visiting, it's difficult when you have those breaks between properties.

"Truly, it's our worst liability and our greatest asset, because we have the opportunity to be very particular about the look of what goes in there. We have the opportunity to create what needs to be created to make Main Street successful."

McCauley wants to bring businesses to Main Street that will draw people to the area.

"Although you never want to discourage any business from being in your city, you want to start focusing on the types of businesses you want to go into there," she said. "Those types of businesses are antique shops, coffee shops, cafes, restaurants."

Fortunately, a more pedestrian-friendly mix of businesses won't have to come at the expense of existing businesses, she said.

Greenspoon, who had held the position since January 2000, accepted a position as an economic development specialist for a small community in the Tucson area. She agreed with McCauley that Main Street is rife with opportunity.

"There are a lot of infill possibilities and new construction possibilities that are coming down the pike, and I've gotten promises from the town and from the council that they're going to keep this going even bigger and better than it was before," she said.

Deming Pioneer Park

Perhaps the most dramatic development on Main Street over the course of the past year has been the near completion of Deming Pioneer Park.

Named in honor of longtime Payson residents James and Anna Mae Deming, the new park occupies 5,434 square feet at the northwest corner of Main Street and McLane Road. It features a cast iron town clock and a replica of J.W. Boardman's Mercantile Store.

Built in 1898, Boardman's was the first non-wood building in Payson. It also was the town's first bank and post office. The rock that was used to build the store was mined from a quarry where the Tonto Apache Reservation is now located.

The Boardman building burned down in 1938 during August Doin's when a lady operating a barbecue stand caught the store on fire. Rodeo event winners had to wait a week for their prize money, until the vault inside the store cooled down enough for officials to open it.

The nearly-completed park is framed by a facade re-creation of Boardman's store with display cases progressively depicting the history of the area. Other features include a 100-seat amphitheater for history and other presentations, garden areas planted with native flora, a Western sculpture and benches.

Zane Grey cabin replica

In another historic replication effort, the site for a replica of Zane Grey's cabin -- lost in 1990 during the Dude Fire -- was officially dedicated. The cabin will be built next to the Rim Country Museum in Green Valley Park.

"We have a complete set of blueprints and design specifications," Zane Grey Cabin Foundation President Dick Wolfe said. "It's going to be an exact replica of that cabin on the grassy knoll just to the east of the Rim Country Museum, and it will house genuine artifacts from Zane Grey and his era, and the whole building itself will be an exhibit."

Wolfe said local architect Gary Spragins has completed the blueprints for the project.

"We spent hours and hours with magnifying glasses looking at photos from Beth Counseller's files," Wolfe said. "I feel confident that it's a good replication."

The famous novelist, who penned 56 Westerns, spent each fall at the cabin during the 1920s. He set 24 of his books in Arizona and half of those in the Rim country.

Grey hired "Babe" Haught, who had served as his hunting guide, to build him a cabin where he could hunt and write.

"Enamored with the Rim's rugged environment, Zane was certain that it was also rich in history that would provide many plots for his novels," Beth Counseller, one of the original cabin's caretakers, wrote in "The Story of the Zane Grey Cabin."

Award winners

Three Payson Main Street projects -- Pine Country Animal Clinic and Homespun Memories, Mad Dawg's and Mel's restaurant, and the Main Street entry monuments -- earned top honors in the 2003 Main Street Awards competition.

The town entered a total of 10 projects in the annual competition, held in conjunction with the Governor's Rural Development Conference. Twenty designated Main Street communities entered a total of 42 projects in 11 categories at the conference, which was held this year in Prescott.

Pine Country Animal Clinic and Homespun Memories took top honors in the New Main Street Business of the Year category.

The new building that houses Dr. Patti Blackmore's veterinary clinic and the scrapbook store that opened earlier this year, has already proven a boon to both businesses. Blackmore has experienced a 45-percent increase in clientele over the previous year, and Homespun Memories is already hiring additional employees.

The 3,200-square-foot building features a veranda and parapets consistent with 1890s architecture. Its exterior colors, warm yellow with rustic red accents, were chosen to provide a warm and welcoming environment with an eye-catching touch. Low-water-use landscaping was designed to further accent the colors of the building.

Mad Dawg's and Mel's restaurant was named winner in Best Economic Restructuring category.

Madeline Manchio and Melanie McCarthy opened Mad Dawg's and Mel's, a 1950s-themed diner featuring hot dogs, brats and Italian sausages, in the Payson Auto Classics building at 407 W. Main Street. Within six months it had outgrown the facility, and a lack of parking made it doubtful that it could ever realize its full potential.

When the opportunity came to move across Main Street to the restaurant previously operated as the Mogollon Grille in the historic Journigan home -- with much more seating capacity and a large parking lot -- the partners jumped at it. The enlarged Mad Dawg's and Mel's is still cranking out its famous hot dogs, but has expanded its menu.

In addition to live music on the patio, the new occupants of the Journigan house hope to add to the culture of Main Street by offering artists and authors an additional venue for their works.

"Mad and I were thrilled and honored to receive such an award," McCarthy said.

The third Payson winner was the Main Street Entry Monuments, taking top honors in the Public/Private Partner category. Marking the entrance to "Historic Main Street" at its intersection with Highway 87, the 16-foot-long curved stucco gateway signs are framed on the ends by ponderosa pine logs and topped by a black metal cowboy atop a bucking horse. They are located on both sides of Main Street at the intersection of Beeline Highway.

The cowboy represents the Main Street origin of Payson's August Doin's rodeo, the logs represent the logging industry and Sawmill Crossing, and a peak at the center of the sign represents the Rim country.

The signs are illuminated by solar pack high intensity lighting. They were designed and built by McIntyre Construction at a cost of $11,752 -- entirely paid for by private donations.

McCauley attended the governor's conference as one of her first official acts.

"I was very proud of Payson's Main Street for winning those awards," McCauley said. "If you could get there and see the competition, it's pretty hefty. These aren't giveaway awards. They're really earned."

Electric Light Parade

The third annual Main Street/APS Electric Light Parade bore little resemblance to parades past when it motored down Main Street Dec. 6.

The biggest change was that the parade ran backwards -- starting with the official lighting of the town tree at Green Valley Park and ending at Sawmill Crossing. The decision to reverse the direction of the parade just made sense, parade chairperson Marilyn Wolfe said.

"It's so cold at the park, and people don't like to hang around for the tree lighting after the parade," she said.

The parade also was much larger than the previous year, with nearly 40 entries. It attracted a crowd estimated at about 3,000.

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