Along with tours of historic private homes in Florence, this year's tour will include buildings that help tell the town’s tale.
The 38th Annual Home Tour takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, starting at Jaques Square, 190 N. Main St. The square will also double as the Home Tour’s headquarters for the day.
The theme this year is “Heritage Trail,” as it not only includes private residences but also historic buildings such as the Brunenkant City Bakery built in 1889, the E. N. Fish & Company Store built in 1868 and the Chapel of the Gila built in 1870.
Tickets can be purchased online at https://bpt.me/6181631 or in person at the Florence Community Center at 778 N. Main St., the Florence Visitor Center at 24 Ruggles St. and the Pinal County Historical Museum at 715 S. Main St. Tickets are $20 per person if purchased before the event and $25 per person is purchased on the day of the tour. There will be six tram stops for those who wish to ride to various locations on the tour.
“Our heritage, deeply ingrained in every aspect of our town, takes center stage as we celebrate Florence’s rich history and architecture,” according to a statement from Paul King, Florence's community services director. “This year’s theme, ‘Heritage Trail,’ captures the significance of the structures that have shaped our town’s story and the people who have guided our journey through Arizona history. “
The Historic Home Tour takes place every second Saturday in February to showcase Florence’s local architecture and history. Town Planner Maricella Benitez said that with more than 50 homes and buildings in the National Historic Register, the event’s planning committee curates a tour based on homeowner interest.
This year’s “Heritage Trail” theme highlights a number of historic stops and special moments in Florence’s history, Benitez stated. Event participants can expect to visit 14 publicly accessible homes, businesses and buildings complemented by facts placed along Main Street’s planter pots.
Built in 1889, the Brunenkant building is the town’s oldest two-story, red-brick American-Victorian style commercial building. It was constructed for Conrad Brunenkant, a Dutch-born baker and grocer. After the Great Depression, his son, Alvin, turned the bakery into the AB Grocery Store, Benitez stated.
Alvin was Florence’s mayor from 1934-1948 and a court interpreter able to speak five languages. The building was restored in 1973 to prevent further deterioration and later served as Florence’s library, visitor center and chamber of commerce. The town acquired the building and currently leases the space to a local lawyer as an office.
Another town-owned building, the Silver King Hotel, is also on the tour schedule. Originally an unplastered, L-shaped adobe with a gable roof, the hotel was built for William Long, a partner in the nearby Silver King Mine. The building was then renamed the Florence Hotel in 1890. After a fire destroyed a portion of the building in 1895, it was replaced by a two-story fired brick building.
The building was the social staple in Florence for many years, providing “modern” overnight lodging, a saloon, a ballroom and the finest dining room in town. Unfortunately, the Silver King Hotel suffered from heavy degradation and the side complex on Sixth Street was lost.
In 2007, Benitez stated, the building was restored to the version seen today. Long-term repairs and additions have been part of its rehabilitation, along with the creation of Padilla Park behind the building. Signs throughout the park describe the history of the building and tell the story of the hundreds of upside-down glass bottles buried beneath the park.
*Only open to the public on Feb. 10.
Those interested in volunteering for the Home Tour, contact Barb Kelly with the Pinal County Historical Museum at 520-560-5610. All volunteers will receive a free tour of this year’s buildings.