Jerome, Arizona
A Weekend Stroll in the Spring of 2004

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Jerome, population 329, elevation 5400 feet, sits above the beautiful Verde Valley in Northern Arizona, 112 miles north of Phoenix and 34 miles northeast of Prescott. According to Lonely Planet's Arizona guidebook, "Rich in copper, gold and silver, this area was mined by Indians before the arrival of Europeans. Jerome had 15,000 inhabitants in the 1920s, but the 1929 stock market crash shut down many of the mines. The last closed in 1953 and Jerome looked as if it would become another ghost town."

"In the late 1960s, Jerome's spectacular location and empty houses were discovered by hippies, artists and retirees, and slowly Jerome became what it is today, a collection of late-19th- and early-20th-century buildings housing art galleries, souvenir shops, restaurants, saloons, and a few B&Bs, all perched precariously on a steep hillside....many of the antique shops and art galleries feature high quality pieces - the shopping can be definitely upscale."

I found it to be a lovely place, full of interesting shops, nice people, a fascinating history, good food, spectacular views, and a great place for a relaxing weekend excursion. I went there for an eclectic all-day music festival being held in the town hall, where some friends of mine from Flagstaff were going to perform. I booked a room at the comfortable 1898 Connor Hotel with its restored bedrooms with period furniture, and enjoyed wandering the town from the music festival to the local restaurants, from the shops to the historic sites, walking past unique buildings and beautiful local gardens. The only thing I'd suggest if you visit Jerome, is not to go in the summer, when it's hot and crowded, and parking is impossible. If you can find a way to visit Jerome during a quiet time, you'll enjoy it a lot.

- Rosie McGee


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