By Nancy Burgess
It was 1898 and successful Prescott businessman Henry Brinkmeyer and his wife, Ina (Muzik) Brinkmeyer, were having a new house built in the 'country', in the Fleury's Addition on West Gurley Street. Mr. and Mrs. Brinkmeyer and their two children, Henry, Jr. and Marcella, had been living at the Brinkmeyer Hotel on North Montezuma Street. This hotel would later burn in the fire of July 14, 1900 and would be rebuilt of brick at the same location. Henry decided that it would be best to build a house with a yard so that the children would have a place to play.
Henry selected the design from a plan book and ordered the house from a Los Angeles lumber company. The design was said to remind him of his childhood home in Germany, near the border with Holland. The lumber, Oregon Pine, redwood siding and shingles, was cut to specification and was shipped by railroad to Prescott, a nineteenth century version of the pre-fabricated house.
The Brinkmeyer House, at 605 West Gurley Street, is a Twentieth Century Transitional style with elements of the Shingle Style, although it does not fit into a specific architectural style. The white house with black trim sits up high, on a tall granite foundation. It has a steeply pitched gabled roof with a large tower that has a pyramidal roof at the northwest corner of the front facade. The front porch, on the Park Avenue and Gurley Street sides, wraps around the corner of the house. The windows are wood frame, many with large diamond-shaped panes in the upper portion of the windows. The views from the upstairs windows look out over most of Prescott to the east and the north. Interior paneling and trim are oak. The Brinkmeyer House is typical of the type of home built by prosperous Prescott residents at the turn of the century. Its location, however, is not typical.
At the turn of the century, most of the local well-to-do businessmen had built or were building their homes on the east side of Prescott on Pleasant Street, Union and Mt. Vernon Streets. There were only two other houses in the area of the new Brinkmeyer House, one next door and one other on Park Avenue. However, the new house provided a large yard for the children to play. They played in the yard and in the street, playing such outside games as Run, Sheep, Run, Hide and Go Seek, Kick the can, Hit the Can and Hopscotch. The 'country' location was also a convenient buggy ride or walk to Mr. Brinkmeyer's hotel and bakery downtown. And, from 1905 to 1912, the streetcar provided convenient transportation, though its five-cent fare was considered a luxury. It ran from Ft. Whipple to the Brinkmeyer House, the line ending on Gurley just west of the Brinkmeyers.
The stone foundation for the house and the retaining walls along Park Avenue and Gurley Street were built by Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix Railroad stonemasons, who were usually busy building bridges for the railroad. When they were not working for the railroad, they frequently worked locally, building foundations and retaining walls. The building supervisor was an elderly carpenter named Mr. Parten. By the time the Brinkmeyer's last child was born on April 16, 1901, the house was completed (although the upstairs was unfinished) and Caroline Emily Brinkmeyer was born at the house in the downstairs front bedroom. The family lived downstairs initially, where there was a parlor, dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms and two half-baths. Baths were taken in a tub in the kitchen in front of the wood-burning cook stove. By 1910, the upstairs, with four bedrooms and a bathroom with a slaw-foot tub, had been completed. Each child had a bedroom upstairs and there was a large 'spare bedroom'. A remodeling downstairs added a living room, changed a bedroom into the dining room and opened up a window on the south side of the living room.
Since 1910, the Brinkmeyer House has had few changes, although the wood-burning cook stove in the kitchen has been gone for a long time. Furnishings that were bought by Henry and Ina when their house was new, including the bed in which Caroline was born, are still in the house, essentially in the same rooms for which they were purchased. The Brinkmeyer House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 as a significant Territorial building. It remained the home of Mr. and Mrs. Brinkmeyer until their deaths in 1941 and 1947, respectively, and was the home of their daughter, Miss Caroline Brinkmeyer (a school teacher at Prescott High School), until her death in 1997. It is now the home of Herman and Cookie Brinkmeyer. Though the house has weathered many changes in west Prescott, it has remained the Brinkmeyer family home for almost 100 years and has been lovingly preserved and cared for by a family who were truly Prescott pioneers.
Miss Marcella Brinkmeyer, also a teacher at Prescott High School, died in 1963.
Note: April is Arizona Historic Preservation Month. Nancy Burgess will be presenting historic preservation programs at Sharlot Hall Museum on April 13 and April 22, 1997.
Please see the Days Past article for October 3, 1999 for more on the Brinkmeyer House.
Nancy Burgess is the Historic Preservation Specialist for the City of Prescott.
Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number: (pb164f11i19)
Reuse only by permission.
Early 1900 photo showing dining room, which became the living room during the remodeling in 1910, the bedroom and hallway becoming the new dining room. The house was barely 12 years old when the remodeling was done and at this time, the upstairs was finished into 4 bedrooms and a bathroom.
Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number: (bure4039pa)
Reuse only by permission.
The Brinkmeyer House at the corner of Gurley Street and Park Avenue, circa 1920s.