Prescott, Arizona | The Jewel of the Southwest

Key Takeaway: Prescott's rich history is woven with tales of resilience, camaraderie, and frontier spirit, making it a unique and cherished community that remains deeply connected to its storied past.

Prescott for Tombstone, which was the scene of the greatest mining excitement of the time. Upon arriving at Tombstone, Virgil Earp, his two brothers, and Doc Holliday were appointed Deputy United States Marshals.

They rendered very effective service against the rustlers and border ruffians that infested that section, cooperating for a time with the city and county peace officers.

About ten years ago, Virgil Earp returned to this county [Prescott, Yavapai County] and engaged in mining in the Hassayampa District, subsequently moving to Kirkland Valley District. In 1900, he was nominated for Sheriff by the Republican Party but shortly afterward withdrew from the race.

A great many harsh things have been said and written about the ‘Earp Gang,’ but nevertheless, it is a fact that a more charitable man never lived than Virgil Earp, especially when he had the means to render assistance.

Don't miss out our YouTube videos! Subscribe to our channel and stay updated. Thank you! ☺️

Prescott Saloons

One of my favorite places to hang out is Prescott’s Courthouse Plaza, or the square as some refer to it. The plaza is where this bustling town’s action takes place and has since the city’s founding.

The infamous Whiskey Row, just across from the square, draws thousands yearly and is especially raucous during Prescott’s Frontier Days Rodeo and New Year’s.

At one time, there were over 40 saloons that accommodated all manner of clientele. Three fires (in 1877, 1883, and 1900) destroyed the saloons, but the devastating fires didn’t dampen the spirit of the businessmen that forged Prescott. 

Temporary structures that served as saloons were erected while saloon owners went about the task of rebuilding.

In the foreground of the photograph above, you can see where Belcher & Smith erected a temporary saloon using tents on the courthouse plaza until they could rebuild. 

If you look closely, the tent signage in the photograph’s foreground reads Belcher & Smith. Ben M. Belcher and Barney Smith were partners in the Cabinet Saloon, also destroyed in the 1900 fire.

The Palace Saloon, or what was left of it, can be seen in the background. It was rebuilt on the same site and is located there today. 

The Weekly Arizona Journal-Miner newspaper announced the Inauguration Celebration of Prescott on July 6, 1864. Oh, how I wish I could have been there! 

The celebration opened with a prayer by the Rev. H. W. Read (the first clergyman to arrive in Prescott) and the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner.

Throughout the day, the Juniper House [the very first hotel and restaurant in Prescott], the ‘Pod,’ Roundtree’s, and Dickson’s saloons were crowded with customers, and we will not say how much whiskey was disposed of. Nobody was hurt, but the boys waxed very merry, and some of them very tipsy, and there was no little promiscuous firing of revolvers.

Thomas Edwin Farish authored “Early Settlers in Prescott History” in 1915. He wrote that John Rountree and Dr. J. T. Alsap opened the first saloon in Prescott under some large pine trees that grew on the lower end of Goose Flat. It was built of cloth and timber. The bar fixtures consisted of one ten-gallon keg of whiskey, a half-dozen tin cups, and a canteen of water. 

The first regulated saloon was opened by Tom Hodges on Cortez Street, who sold drinks and cigars and took ‘Burros’ in payment. 

A notice published on October 26, 1864, in the Arizona Miner indicates that John Dickson and Thomas Hodges were partners in The Pine Grove Saloon.

Prescott’s Courthouse Plaza

Prescott’s Courthouse Plaza (also called the Courthouse Square) is a remarkable and nostalgic public space that is a joy and wonder for all who visit there. 

In the spring and summer months, you might find me sitting on a bench under the cool canopy of the giant trees that have witnessed untold events of long ago. Courthouse SquarePrescott Frontier Days Parade, corner of Gurley & Montezuma Streets. Prescott Courthouse Plaza.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we will be delving into some of the most common inquiries and curiosities that surround our topic.

What are the main historical attractions in Prescott?

Prescott is rich in history, with the Courthouse Plaza, Whiskey Row, and several historical saloons being key attractions. The Palace Saloon, rebuilt after the 1900 fire, is one of the oldest operating bars in Arizona. Visitors can also explore the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Smoki Museum to learn more about Prescott’s storied past.

When is the best time to visit Prescott?

The best time to visit Prescott is during the spring and summer months when the weather is pleasant and numerous outdoor events take place at the Courthouse Plaza. Prescott Frontier Days in early July and the Christmas Parade in December are also popular times for a visit.

What events are held at the Courthouse Plaza?

The Courthouse Plaza hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including concerts, art and craft fairs, the Prescott Frontier Days Parade, and the Christmas Parade. It’s a central place for community gatherings and celebrations.

Is there a place to relax and enjoy nature in Prescott?

Yes, besides the Courthouse Plaza with its giant trees and historic ambiance, Prescott is surrounded by natural beauty with numerous parks, lakes, and trails. Thumb Butte and Watson Lake are particularly popular for hiking, picnicking, and enjoying the scenic outdoors.

Conclusion: Prescott, Arizona

Prescott, with its rich tapestry of history and vibrant community spirit, stands as a testament to the enduring charm of the American Southwest. From the iconic Courthouse Plaza to the storied saloons, this town invites you to step back in time and experience the essence of its storied past.

Whether you’re strolling under the ancient trees, attending one of the many lively festivals, or simply relaxing with friends and family, Prescott offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere that’s hard to resist.

Leave a Comment

About the author

Hi, I'm Teri Franks, the voice behind Prescott Voice. I've spent years immersing myself in all that Prescott has to offer, and I love sharing the unique stories and experiences I've discovered. When I'm not writing, you'll find me exploring Prescott's trails or tasting our local cuisine. I believe that the vibrant lifestyle here in Prescott inspires us to live a healthier, happier life. Come join me on this exciting journey as we explore Prescott together.

Leave a Comment