Built in 1898 by David Connor, the Connor Hotel of Jerome has a colorful past, ranging from the heights of luxury to the depths of squalor and back again. Originally designed with 20 rooms upstairs, this first-class lodging establishment also offered a barroom, card rooms, and billiard tables on the first floor. Rooms were rented on the “European plan” for the princely sum of $1.00 per night. The Connor’s telephone number was 8. The stone foundations were quarried from the hills around Jerome, and the brick was fired in nearby Cottonwood, in the yard of Messrs. Britton and Sharp.
Before the turn of the century, David Connor’s hotel had burned to the ground twice, along with many other fine buildings in Jerome’s crowded downtown.
David Connor was fortunate in that he was one of the only two business owners in town to carry insurance, in the handsome amount of $14,500. As a result, he was immediately able to rebuild the hotel, unlike many other buildings lost to fire in the conflagrations that swept Jerome before the turn of the century.
After it reopened in August of 1899, it enjoyed a heyday of being one of the finest lodging establishments in the booming mining towns of the West. The hotel had its own bus for delivering guests to the train depot, and was full to capacity much of the time. It was one of the earliest buildings in Jerome to be fully wired for electricity, and each room had a call bell for service.
However, as the fortunes of the mines waned, so waned the fortunes of the Connor Hotel. In 1931, the hotel closed. David Connor’s son and heir continued to rent out the shops downstairs, but the rooms sat idle upstairs. Through the ensuing decades, various merchants renting space in the Connor eked a living out of the dwindling residents remaining in Jerome.
When the mines closed in the 1950s, the town came close to becoming a real and true ghost town. Soon thereafter, the town began to attract some slight notoriety for the dubious distinction of being a ghost town, and the merchants shifted gear to try and make a living from the scant tourist traffic wending its way through the formerly bustling town.
As the town began to attract counter-culture folks and sightseers in the 1960s and 1970s, the hotel entered its second heyday, this time as a low budget flophouse of sorts, which was quite popular, especially with people having a night on the town. In fact, many people still remember those days with a good bit of nostalgia. The rooms were twice their original size (still are, in fact), and not glamorous, but definitely the place to be in Jerome.
Pesky safety concerns dictated that the hotel close its doors again in the 1980s. You know, those unpleasant little issues like sprinkler system, fire escape, and adequate wiring, or the lack thereof. The rooms sat vacant and derelict for the rest of the century, until we bit the bullet and embarked upon the major project of correcting the safety issues and providing the amenities and creature comforts that today’s guests have come to expect. Now, with a new fire escape, fire sprinkler system, and safe new wiring in place, not to mention many other modern conveniences, we invite you to enjoy the most comfortable piece of history that the West has to offer!
Photographs courtesy JeromePhotos.com and The Jerome Historical Society.