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Chief Surgeon’s House and First United Verde Hospital

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Surgeon’s House; Clubhouse Hospital
1917, Arthur R. Kelly. 100-123 Hill St.
  • Chief Surgeon's House
  • Chief Surgeon's House
  • First United Verde Hospital
  • First United Verde Hospital
  • First United Verde Hospital

Sited on a ledge overlooking downtown Jerome, the United Verde Hospital was built by the United Verde Copper Company (UVCC) to treat the infirmities of its employees and their extended families, while the neighboring residence was built for the hospital’s chief surgeon on the lower end of Hill Street, closer to town. In 1917, Los Angeles–based architect Arthur R. Kelly designed both buildings in a Spanish Colonial Revival idiom.

The miners’ strike in the summer of 1917 was a rare moment of labor tension in Jerome, and although it was broken within a matter of days, it affected William Andrews Clark, the owner of UVCC. Desirous to allay unrest and improve workers’ living conditions, he commissioned Kelly to design housing in his new planned town of Clarkdale as well as provide a modern medical facility in Jerome. Clark set aside property on Hill Street, once part of the tract owned by pioneer George W. Hull (as was much of the town of Jerome), for UVCC’s first company-owned infirmary and the stylish residence for the hospital’s chief surgeon.

Constructed in 1917, the three-story United Verde Hospital featured a white-tiled operating room on the third floor as well as an attached morgue in the rear. Accident, injury, and death rates in a mining town were always high, but the new hospital also saw an influx of patients with the outbreak of the worldwide influenza pandemic in 1918. That year, 125 children fell victim to the flu. The hospital functioned for ten years before it was supplanted by the second United Verde Hospital, which opened in January 1927. Designed by the Phoenix-based architectural firm Lescher and Mahoney, the larger hospital was sited farther up Hill Street, with the one-lane path serving these medical facilities. Later that year, an earthquake along the Verde Fault destroyed the old hospital’s southern wing, and in 1928 the remainder of the building was converted into the Jerome Public Library and Clubhouse (hence the nickname “Clubhouse Hospital”). The library wing held as many as 7,000 books on the ground floor while the clubhouse featured a ladies’ lounge, card rooms, a men’s lounge with billiard tables, a soda fountain, a small ballroom, and a swimming pool.

The stately surgeon’s residence, first occupied by the hospital’s head physician, also contained a nurses’ dormitory for a time. In the early 1930s, it became the home of Dr. Arthur A. Carlson, the chief surgeon, and his family. Carlson, a graduate of the University of California Medical School (1910), worked for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway before moving to Clarkdale in 1912. He rose to the position of chief surgeon with the retirement of Dr. L. P. Kaull about 1921, and held the post until he resigned in 1945 to move to Cottonwood. During his time in Jerome, he thrice served on the city council and was mayor for one term.

Kelly’s use of round-arched windows, stucco exteriors, red-tile roofs, and planar surfaces—characteristics of the Spanish Colonial Revival style—were also employed in neighboring Clarkdale, UVCC’s company town. The early-twentieth-century style evoked the Southwest’s Hispanic heritage and colonial past. Despite this allusion to history, both the hospital and the house were thoroughly modern and offered all the latest conveniences and comforts.

After the mines closed in 1953, the popular surgeon’s residence continued to be used by such members of Jerome’s dwindling community as the mayor, city councilmen, and the postmaster. Despite this continued occupancy, the house fell into disrepair but has recently been restored and adapted as the Surgeon’s House Bed and Breakfast. The hospital was abandoned for a time after the mines closed but the old library is now used as a carpenter’s shop while retail space occupies the first floor and private apartments are on the second floor.

References

Branning, Debe. “Spirits of the Clubhouse Hospital in Jerome AZ.” Examiner.com, February 6, 2010).

Prince, Andrea. “History.” The Surgeon’s House. Accessed April 26, 2016. http://www.surgeonshouse.com/.

Young, Herbert V. They Came To Jerome: the Billion Dollar Copper Camp. Jerome, AZ: Jerome Historical Society with Bird Printing, 1989.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Heather N. McMahon
Coordinator: 
R. Brooks Jeffery
Jason Tippeconnic Fox

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