BISBEE — Thanks to the Bisbee Community Foundation, an $8,900 informational kiosk noting the City Beautiful plan that gave rise to the Warren District and its many historic sites will be installed in Vista Park in the near future.
The foundation is donating $5,000 to pay for a kiosk to be designed, constructed and installed by local artist Mike Page, owner of Trike Communications LLC.
During the city council meeting on Nov. 16, Bill Bailey, who sits on the city’s parks and recreation committee, said when he joined the group, he thought he should have some sort of project to work on. After reading a history of Warren, he discovered Warren was laid out under the City Beautiful movement.
Bailey said, “Bisbee or any mining town would hardly be known as a City Beautiful. In the 20th century there was rapid industrialization and much competition for workers. The City Beautiful movement came out of that because it would provide and retain quality workers.”
According to city documents, the City Beautiful movement was popular in the late 1890s and early 1900s nationwide.
The idea was to make the city more efficient, economical and beautiful. The movement was the beginning of comprehensive city planning and the U.S. City Beautiful became the common ideal that combined a range of goals and aesthetics into the single concept that cities were more than merely commercial necessities. They could be an effective social control device and could be beautiful.
Rather than have the helter skelter building of miners’ shacks climbing up the hills of Old Bisbee, Calumet and Arizona Mining Co. officials decided to develop Warren in the new, modern vision to improve roads, create parks and amenities that would attract workers.
“In 1905, C&A started planning for the new town, to be called Warren, after George Warren, who was one of the original discovers of the fabulous Bisbee copper mines in 1877, namesake of the Warren Mining District, and a most colorful, legendary character of the period,” according to the documents.
The idea was to combine comprehensive functional and aesthetic qualities from the City Beautiful concept with the critical characteristics of a mining company town such as affordable housing, sanitary conditions, a good water supply and recreational and educational opportunities.
Bailey said, “The movement took 1,000 acres of Warren and created the two boulevards West Vista and East Vista around Vista Park.”
C&A also helped build the “most modern streetcar system in the world for its time” to carry workers to the mining sites, Bailey said. The Warren Ballpark was built in 1908 and became the focal point for the fan of roads and housing tracts that set Warren apart from the rest of the city.
“I felt we should have a billboard or something to acknowledge Warren as a City Beautiful,” Bailey said.
He talked to Doug Dunn, president of the Bisbee Community Foundation, who suggested he bring the matter up in a foundation meeting. They awarded the city a $5,000 challenge grant.
Dunn put him in touch with Page, who provided a kiosk at Evergreen Cemetery which he thought was “pretty cool.”
“This would be something that would just energize Warren. Back in those days it was a big deal,” Bailey said.
Dunn said, “We’re excited by what’s presented here. We offered the challenge grant to get it off and running and offered to handle the local fundraising. I think it’s a fantastic proposal.”
The community would need to raise $4,900 for the kiosk project.
Councilwoman Joni Giacomino, who grew up in Warren and represents the district, said, “I think it’s wonderful Warren is getting recognized. It’s been kind of like a stepchild. There’s so much in Warren that people don’t realize.”
She went on to compliment Page’s artistic talents and noted the kiosk would be a great asset to Warren.
Councilman Mel Sowid, who also represents Warren, said, “Thanks for the work you have done. Finally, we will have a place where people can go and learn about the history.”
City Manager Steve Pauken said the Warren Ballpark may be listed on the National Register of Historic Places after a recent visit from the State Historic Preservation Office.
Mayor Ken Budge and councilmembers Sowid, Giacomino, Leslie Johns and Frank Davis approved the plan unanimously.
The council also approved the rezoning request made by Cochise County to rezone the former high school in Old Bisbee from R-1 (single family residence) to CM-2 (commercial, mixed use), though it was not a unanimous vote. Giacomino was the sole nay vote.
CM-2 allows affordable housing, retail bakeries, bed and breakfasts, banks, business offices, dog grooming, hair salons, fitness centers, pool halls, arcades, dance, music and art spaces, restaurants and cocktail lounges.
Cochise County requested the change in advance of the sale of the historic four-level building. The county gave residents the opportunity to tour the old school and discuss various uses they would approve. Residents liked the ideas of long-term care housing, affordable housing, artist studios and an entertainment venue in the old gym, but they did not want any more bed and breakfasts.