February 14, 2021

Prescott's 50th and 100th Anniversary Celebrations

Ironically, Prescott’s 50th anniversary was largely celebrated... elsewhere. It was the Phoenix Board of Trade that had the idea of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the territory, and they would make sure they hosted the event.

“In Phoenix the day will resolve itself into a love-feast of the older and younger generations of Arizonans, with the elder citizens of the state as guests of honor,” the Republican related. “Stories of the days when the present state was mostly a desert…will be retold by the old-timers.” 

Gov. Hunt proclaimed for all “the citizens of this state to observe with fitting ceremonies the 50th Anniversary of the organization of the territorial government of Arizona on April 24,” the paper reported. “It will be asked that all cities of the union and that Arizonans gather at noon on the 24th to drink a toast to the success and prosperity of the state of Arizona.” 

Ten speakers gave the history of Arizona at a state banquet at the Hotel Adams in Phoenix. Eight were highly regarded pioneers. Then the current governor, Hunt, spoke about the present with his oration “The Ship of State in New Waters.” Dwight B Heard spoke to the future with “The Newest Star.”

“With the exception of ex-Governor Alexander O. Brodie, all the ex-governors living in Arizona [were] present at the banquet.”

It seems that the only other city to celebrate with more than a toast was Tombstone. “All of [Tombstone’s] patriotic citizens had old glory flung to the breeze today in commemoration of Arizona’s 50th anniversary,” the Epitaph revealed.  

A dance was held and the paper expected that “in town everybody is going. First they are all going to the picture show and then over to Gage Hall, where ragging, tangoing and the old-fashioned waltz will be ‘spield’ by the Tombstone City Band. No better evening could be spent than in this manner and it is indeed fitting to make merry on that night, the 50th anniversary of the birth of Arizona as a territory.”

However, in 1964, Prescott’s 100th Anniversary would be celebrated most of the year. Arizona Highways magazine took special notice and in April devoted the entire issue to Prescott.

Every weekend from the middle of May through September offered something, often several things, in celebration. It all started with a horseback trek from Fort Verde to Fort Whipple where three days of remembrance and celebration then commenced.

The Calendar of Events for the summer was lengthy. There were art exhibits, bronze exhibits, dances (both ball and square,) community sings, talent shows, horse shows, and a centennial trapshooting contest by the Prescott Gun Club. Besides a large celebration with Frontier Days, other cowboy and ranching events were held throughout the summer.

One item that gained much attention was the “Manned Space Project” exhibit provided by NASA.

The Prescott post office released a “Centennial Cachet” commemorating the anniversary with a special cancellation stamp.

The Sharlot Hall Museum commemorated the anniversary with the design and dedication of its Herb Garden and Morris Goldwater was named “Prescott’s Man of the Century.”

The story of Morris Goldwater and his oversight of the early development of Prescott, Arizona.

Many souvenir items were produced in commemoration, including:


A commemorative copper coin

The Governor's Mansion in copper

A Decorative Plate (Ruffner Archive)

Even an Ashtray (Ruffner Archive)

On May 15, the Courier issued what is still its largest edition to date sporting several sections of Prescott’s early history. The dedication of this most special issue was poignant. It was “dedicated to the man primarily responsible for the city’s highly successful Centennial year celebration—LW (Budge) Ruffner.” Budge, a historian and writer himself (among several other things,) must have beamed with pride as his work unfolded in his beloved city.

Prescott’s 150th Anniversary was celebrated in 2014 when Jan Brewer was governor. Souvenir tokens of the sesquicentennial were designed and can still be purchased at the Western Heritage Center.



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Also available at:

Western Heritage Center, 156.5 Montezuma (Whiskey Row)


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Arizona Republican, 4/17/1914; Pg. 15, Col. 4.

Arizona Republican, 4/24/1914; Pg. 7, Cols. 3-4.

Arizona Republican, 4/23/1914; Pg. 3, Cols. 1-2.

Weekly Journal-Miner, 4/22/1914; Pg. 4, Col. 6.

Tombstone Epitaph, 4/26/1914; Pg. 4, Col. 4.

Tombstone Epitaph, 4/26/1914; Pg. 3, Col. 7.

Prescott Evening Courier, 3/16/1964; Pg. 1, Cols. 4-5.

Prescott Evening Courier, 5/14/1964.


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