One of Payson's oldest landmarks -- and one of its newest -- are among five nominees in the 2005 Main Street Awards competition.
The historic Ox Bow Inn is a nominee for Best Historic Preservation Project. Opened in 1932 as the Payson Hotel, the Inn was placed on the National Register of Historic Places earlier this year.
National Bank of Arizona's new office at Main Street and Highway 87 was nominated in the New Building Project category. The bank, which opened earlier this year, was selected for its adherence to design standards recommended by the Main Street Design Review Committee.
The other Payson nominees are:
- Wants and Wishes Gifts and Antiques for Best Medium Scale Renovation Project
- the Main Street Walking Tour for Best Public/Private Partnership
- the Payson Stampede Mountain Bike Challenge and Street Festival for Best Special Event.
The annual awards competition, held in conjunction with the Governor's Rural Development Conference, is open to the state's 20 designated Main Street communities. Winners will be announced at a special dinner during the conference, which will be held Aug. 17-19 at the Hilton El Conquistador in Oro Valley.
Main Street Project Manager Carol McCauley gives credit to the business owners for their individual efforts.
"It's an indication that the progress on Main Street is continuing, because it is getting the support of the (business owners) who are benefiting from a program they're actually creating," McCauley said.
Last year, three Main Street projects took first places at the competition -- Rim Country Printery for Best Facade Renovation under $25,000, Rim Country Classic Auto Club's Main Street car show for Best Special Event, and Body Elegance Day Spa for Historic Rehabilitation of Significance.
Profiles of the 2005 Payson nominees:
Best Historic Preservation Project: Ox Bow Inn
The Payson Hotel, the forerunner to the Ox Bow Inn, was built in 1932 by William and Estelee Wade. Logs for the structure, which originally had nine guest rooms upstairs and a kitchen, restaurant and bar downstairs, were cut and hauled from the Mogollon Rim. Rooms were $2.50 a night and meals cost 50 cents. At the end of World War II, the Wades retired from the hotel business and the new owners, Bob and Thelma Caldwell, expanded the facility to become the Ox Bow Inn. The name comes from Ox Bow Hill, the gateway to Payson -- named when soldiers in the 1870s found an oxbow on a trail coming into Payson.
The Ox Bow has undergone considerable renovation under new owners Roy and Beverly Nethken. Improvements this year include replacing parts of the roof with original metal roofing and refinishing the face of the building.
"The fact that (the Ox Bow Inn has) been named to the National Register of Historic Places indicates how important it is to the history of Payson and what a landmark it has become on Main Street," said former town historian Stan Brown.
New Building Project: National Bank of Arizona
The National Bank of Arizona building sets at the entrance to Main Street on the site of an old gas station. In the process of designing the building, Amon Builders not only incorporated the monument-style Main Street entrance sign now on the bank's property, but also replaced the metal facer plate in the plans with natural wood, replaced the bank's normal maroon logo color with browns, and matched the historic stone used on the monument instead of the original rock shown on the plans.
"The bank and the builder worked in partnership with the Main Street committees and the town toward their vision of Main Street, particularly its entrance," McCauley said.
Best Medium Scale Renovation Project: Wants and Wishes
Even older than the Ox Bow Inn, the house that was restored and converted to a gifts and antiques store was built by Jesse and Lena Chilson in 1915. Through interviews conducted with friends and descendants of the original owners, great care was taken to restore its original ambience.
The front yard, used by the previous occupant, an engineering firm, for customer and employee parking, now features a garden and arbor, while the back yard, once overrun with weeds, now sports an elegant sun deck.
Other improvements included removing a metal roof and restoring the original shake roof. Rooms inside the historic house are now used to showcase antiques, collectibles and knickknacks.
"Main Street welcomes a business that has made a significant effort to preserve, restore and honor its historic past while providing much needed economic activity for today and the future," McCauley said.
Best Public/Private Partnership: Main Street Walking Tour
The walking tour, which has become a regular Main Street attraction, incorporates a site-by-site guidebook written by former town historian Stan Brown. Tour-goers carry the book with them as they progress down Main Street to Green Valley Park.
Far from a stodgy tour of musty old buildings, Brown said those who take the tour will find the journey most entertaining. With the recent installation of 25 plaques at some of Main Street's oldest structures, the tour has become even more interesting. A $8,800 grant from the Arizona Main Street Program paid for the cast-bronze plaques.
"It was a grant that (former Main Street Project Manager) Karen (Greenspoon) had applied for before I had even got here," McCauley said. "It kind of fell by the wayside during the transition, but when I started, I picked it up again."
Best Special Event: Payson Stampede Mountain Bike Challenge and Street Festival
Held for the first time ever June 18-19, the Payson Stampede is the newest in a series of festivals and events that McCauley hopes will revitalize the town's reputation as the festival capital of Arizona. A portion of Main Street was closed down to stage the festival and 24-hour mountain bike race.
"Payson was once known as the festival capital of Arizona," McCauley said, "and efforts are being made to return us to that place of distinction."
For more information about this year's entrants, visit a display at the Main Street Program Office at 600 S. Green Valley Parkway, (928) 468-6074.