Sharlot Hall Museum is named after its founder, Sharlot Mabridth Hall (1870-1943), who became well known as a poet, activist, politician, and Arizona’s first territorial historian. Sharlot Hall was one of the West’s most remarkable women. In 1909, she was appointed Territorial Historian and became the first woman to hold territorial office -- 11 years before the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote in the United States. In 1927, she began restoring the first Territorial Governor’s residence and offices as a home for her extensive collection of pioneer and Native American artifacts and documents and opened it as a museum a year later. For the remainder of her life, Ms. Hall worked to preserve Arizona’s historic past. Her diligent efforts inspired others to continue contributing to the preservation of early Arizona history.
The Museum grew up around the site of the Governor’s Mansion, which is the oldest building associated with Arizona Territory still standing on its original location. The log cabin structure (a “mansion” only in contrast to the tents, wagon boxes, and smaller log cabins in which most of Prescott's citizens were then living) was built in 1864 for Arizona Territorial Governor John Goodwin. Today it anchors a four-acre campus featuring a collection of historic buildings, a modern Library & Archives, exhibit galleries, an outdoor amphitheater, and the Blue Rose Theater where original historical plays are presented throughout the year.
The Museum prides itself on its magnificent collection of more than 400 Native American baskets, over half more than 100 years old. The basket collection, a portion of which is on public display in the Hartzell Room of the Sharlot Hall Building, features examples from more than 25 tribes. Collection highlights include an Anasazi bifurcated basket dating back some 800 years, infant bassinets woven by Mary Jones (aka Mary of Peeples Valley) and a Yavapai “gambling” basket used in a popular tribal game. The baskets are as exquisite as they are utilitarian, with uses ranging from cooking to cradles.
Until someone invents a working time machine, Sharlot Hall Museum will continue to fill the void with its Living History program. The Museum’s Living History interpreters include staff, local volunteers and special program volunteers from around the state dressed in period costumes and using the Museum’s historic buildings and artifacts to transport visitors to the 19th Century. The Museum’s extensive training program for interpreters emphasizes accuracy as it acquaints them with life in territorial Arizona.
The Museum sponsors three major heritage festivals each year. The Folk Arts Fair (first weekend in June) is a family-oriented celebration of old-time skills and entertainment. The Prescott Indian Art Market (second weekend in July) is one of the West’s premier Indian art markets, featuring outstanding Native American jewelers, painters, potters, weavers, bead and leatherworkers, and sculptors display and sell their wares. The Folk Music Festival (first weekend in October) presents the best of Arizona acoustic music, including fiddle, banjo, guitar, harmonica, mandolin and dulcimer.
SHARLOT HALL MUSEUM
415 W. Gurley Street, Prescott
928-445-3122 • www.sharlot.org
Admission: Adults $5, Museum members and children under 18 free
FORT WHIPPLE MUSEUM
The Fort Whipple Museum, a joint project of the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Bob Stump Veterans Affairs Medical Center, is located on the grounds of the VA Hospital on Hwy. 89 in Prescott. Housed in one of the 1905 military officer’s quarters, the Museum traces the history of Fort Whipple with monthly living history programs and exhibits that include medical instruments, Army weaponry, maps, photographs and memoirs written by those stationed there.
FORT WHIPPLE MUSEUM
Hours: Thursday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Admission: Free (donation requested)