By Mona Lange McCroskey
The one hundredth anniversary of the Brinkmeyer House was observed on September 10, 1999, when Herman and Cookie Brinkmeyer hosted a Reunion Mixer there. The gathering was held in conjunction with the "Half Century" reunion, held each September when Prescott High School graduates return to share memories and renew old acquaintances.
In addition to the reunion dinner for everyone who graduated more than fifty years ago, it has become traditional for many classes to host their own get-togethers the night before.
Many of Brinkmeyer's classmates from the Class of 1944, dropped in to enjoy the wonderful repast served on the long, long dining room table, but there were visitors from other years, too. Prescott was small then, and these friends remain a close-knit family. They fondly remember Marcella and Caroline Brinkmeyer, both teachers at Prescott High School in the 1930s. Besides recollections of the classroom, the former students recall walking by the stately house on their way to Lincoln School and, later, seeing Caroline out pulling weeds in the lawn.
The house itself, with American flag flying, pots of flowers on the steps, and its National Register plaque sparkling brighter than usual, seemed to appreciate the influx of visitors and to remember all the people and events that have graced it for a hundred years. Stepping over the threshold, one is transported back to the turn of the century. Family portraits grace the mantel and walls and the original furniture and appointments are in place, lovingly cared for by Brinkmeyer and his wife.
Henry Brinkmeyer, a baker and prominent Prescott businessman, and his wife were living in his hotel on North Montezuma Street in 1897, when, it is rumored, friends convinced him that it was unseemly to be raising a family in such close proximity to the carryings-on of Whiskey Row. He purchased a lot in Fleury's Addition, then considered to be far from town, at the end of the streetcar line, ordered commercial plans from Los Angeles, and began construction in 1898.
Oregon pine and redwood arrived cut to specification. Rocks for the foundation and surrounding walls were quarried locally, set by Santa Fe railroad masons in exchange for rooms at the Brinkmeyer hotel. A well was dug to provide water for mortaring; later the water was piped into the house. For several years, Mr. Brinkmeyer kept his bakery buggy, delivery wagons, and horses behind the house, along with poultry and various other animals.
In 1899, the impressive twentieth-century transitional home at 605 West Gurley Street was completed under the supervision of elderly and white-bearded Mr. Parten. The Brinkmeyers moved in with son Henry, Jr. and daughter Marcella. Their daughter Caroline was born in the downstairs bedroom in 1901. Brinkmeyer went to the bakery each morning at 6:00 o'clock to ensure that the bread was baking, then returned to his home, changed clothes, and returned to work until 8:00 at night. He ate his meals at the restaurant and, sadly, rarely spent time at home, even on holidays.
Certainly the spirits of Henry and Ina Brinkmeyer still watch over the gracious home at the corner of Park and Gurley. No doubt they were there on September 10th, dressed in Victorian clothing and acting as gracious hosts. Hopefully, in 2099, native Prescottonians will again gather to celebrate another centennial of the venerable Brinkmeyer House.
Mona McCroskey is the Research Historian at Sharlot Hall Museum. She has conducted more than 300 local oral histories, all available for research at the Museum's archives. A detailed article about Henry Brinkmeyer, authored by McCroskey, is scheduled for publication in the Fall 1999, issue of The Journal of Arizona History.
Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number: (pb164f11i17)
Reuse only by permission.
White-bearded construction supervisor, Mr. Parten, halfway up the stairs, and the Brinkmeyer family (Herman is just below Parten) posed for this 1901, photograph of the stately Brinkmeyer House at the corner of Park Avenue and Gurley Street.