For the past 36 years, the Bisbee Woman’s Club has provided rare glimpses into the historic homes of the old mining town delighting visitors who come from all over to step across thresholds of some of the most eclectic, romantic and unique mansions and bungalows found in a western town.
For this, the club’s 37th year, 11 homes in the Warren District were selected to showcase owners’ imagination and dedication to retain the characteristics of the Victorian Age building spirit with a bit of a personal flair thrown in for good measure.
Janice Balduc, in charge of the home tour, said the first stop on the tour is not a home, but the schoolhouse built in 1917, Greenway School. While visiting the school, tour-goers get the chance to own pieces of art made by some of Bisbee’s famous and yet-to-be-famous artists.
Lollie Yancy, who organized this year’s auction, has over 80 pieces of art up for bid at the school. As people walk the schoolhouse, they can also place a bid on one or two or three of the art chairs, tables and other ingenious artworks crafted with the legendary panache of Bisbee’s artists.
Two exemplary mansions — Greenway Manor and Notman Estate — both recently renovated, are new to tour listings, said Bolduc.
“There are a lot of people who can’t wait to see these homes,” she added.
Warren is unique in and of itself, as it was a planned development in accord with the turn of the century’s City Beautiful design. Streets radiated out from the historic Warren Ballpark like spokes on a wheel and intended for homes to be occupied by mine managements and the more affluent citizens whose businesses grew hand in hand with the copper, gold and silver pulled from the ground.
The Notman Estate now belongs to Bisbee’s part-time city attorney, James Ledbetter, and his wife, Rita, who are slowly making the transition from Cottonwood to the city. It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in his Prairie Style and built in 1919 by the Chief Geologist Arthur Notman and his wife, Florence.
Rita has the original blueprints on display. They were used in the renovation project which began in 2015 and were followed to bring the home to its original design. Needless to say, the revitalization has returned it to its original grandeur.
It has a jaw-dropping, huge dressing room with counters and drawers down one wall with windows above to light the room and a wall of closet space down the other. The Ledbetters’ additions of large copper finials on the staircases are striking and represent the copper industry’s impact on the town.
The Greenway Manor has been painstakingly restored by Gretchen Bonaduce and is sure to be bustling for the tours. It was built in 1908 by the Calumet and Arizona Mining Company for its manager John Greenway. The mansion has several apartments complete with kitchens, which Bonaduce has turned into little getaways each with its own chic personalization. There is a Johnny Cash Room and an Elvis Presley Room complete with furnishing and music of the era.
A much subtler home built in 1910 by Frank and Nellie Hanscom in the neo-colonial style is on the tour. New owner Rod Ostrom has spent the past two years renovating the home, which has seen some changes over the years. He was fortunate to meet one of the grown children of the one of the owners who told him about the use of the rooms by the family. Ostrom made some discoveries of his own while tearing out weakened walls and drooping ceilings. Since the home had gone through different changes, he went minimalist with plush faux leopard spot carpeting and few pieces of furniture.
He will also happily chat about a theme in his home, which cannot be told here. It must be experienced in person. Just ask about the cheeky lady’s shoe and note on one of the beds.
There are so many homes to enjoy, it is good tickets cover both of the two days. You may not be able to get through them all in one day. And, since they are all in Warren, some may wish to stroll through the beautiful Vista Park and up the side streets to get that extra flavor that only Bisbeeites can envisage.