BISBEE — Though it really was a black Friday for Bisbee, with three inches of rain and wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour, on Saturday the sun broke through and the Warren District quickly filled with curious folk to go on the annual Bisbee Woman’s Club Home Tour.
Janice Balduc, who organized the tour, said Friday was very slow, though some people did come out in the afternoon after the weather calmed down a bit.
“We’re really doing well today,” she said, smiling.
Balduc was pleased with the different homes and styles on 37th annual tour.
The Greenway School cafeteria was turned into an art gallery and was filled with people buying tickets and browsing through the 100 or so Art Chair and More items up for auction. Many were intent on a winning a bid through the silent auction, while others were just enjoying the many expressions of Bisbee artists’ creativity. The auction is no longer just chairs. It included side tables, end tables, coffee tables, wardrobes, dressers and a special doll or dog bed.
Greenway School itself was on the list of historic sites to tour. Doug Dunn and his wife, Donna, acted as docents to talk about the history of the 100–plus–year–old school. Donna used to teach at Greenway and was happy to show her former classroom and talk of days past.
The Warren Co. sold the lot to the school district for $1 a century ago and the first of the buildings opened in 1917. Over the years, the Bisbee Unified School District has managed to keep the buildings, which house kindergarten through fifth grades, for the most part in their original condition, down to the 12-foot ceilings and hardwood floors.
A small, Modest Mission Revival-style home built in 1916 on Hovland Street was on the tour. It is is owned by artists Roger Thoreson and Perri Bischoff, who lived there until a larger home became available down the street.
“We’re artists and we just needed more room,” said Thoreson about the 650-square-foot home.
It has one bedroom, a living room area, a small kitchen and bathroom. They installed copper countertops in the old-fashioned kitchen and added some unique antique touches – like a stuffed bird covered by a glass dome frame and old door with a peacock and sun rays etched into the glass. They named it the Wren’s Rest due to the small size.
Thoreson said he heard a woman and her three children lived there at one time.
“I don’t know how they did it,” he remarked.
Timothy White, Ardyth Morehouse and Vicki Black, all from Bisbee, admired the copper counters and were also surprised that a family of four could live there.
Greenway Manor and the Notman Mansion received a lot of traffic, as did the 1908 home of the chief engineer of the Calumet and Arizona Mines which rented the home to him. Built as a one-story home, it was renovated and a second floor was added in the 1950s.
In fact, all the homes on the tour were pretty busy Saturday as the flow of people kept coming to get a glimpse of another era and the craftsmanship which added an elegance held dear by the 21st century owners who regard these historic homes as their responsibility to a time long past.
At the end of the day, Balduc was excited, as the club had brought in around $10,000 from the 2019 home tour. The club also receives a portion of the receipts of the sales from the auction.
All proceeds from the home tour and the Art Chair and More Auction help the Bisbee Woman’s Club community outreach efforts, which include “For Love of Music” concerts, scholarships for Bisbee High School graduates and small grants to other local non-profits.