Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

June 10, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

sharlot Hall Museum


  • Eighty years ago, Sharlot Mabridth Hall began a small museum in the Governor's Mansion in Prescott. Today, the museum offers visitors a look into some of the trials and triumphs of Arizona's historic territorial days. John Langellier, director of the museum, joins HORIZON to tell us about its upcoming 80th anniversary celebration.
Guests:
  • John Langellier - Director, Sharlot Hall Museum


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
80 years ago, Sharlot Mabridth hall began a small museum in the governor's mansion in Prescott, Arizona. It offers today's visitors a look into some of the challenges and triumphs of Arizona's historic territorial days. The museum is preparing to celebrate its 80th anniversary. We will talk more about that in a moment. First, Merry Lucero gives us a tour of the museum and its grounds.

Merry Lucero:
the museum is just a few blocks from press cot's historic downtown courthouse square. It was created in 1928 in when was once the governor's mansion by ms. Sharlot hall initially to house her extensive collection of historic artifacts. Eventually it had diverse mix of her personal articles, items from her library and historical objects.

John Langellier:
from letters and box and photographs to the large objects of the governor's mansion. There could be baskets from the native's people and shards of things broken at ancient Indian dwelling sites. She was very broad stroke in what she collected.

Merry Lucero:
today the museum house as variety of exhibits and has multiple historic buildings around the grounds. It hosts several festivals throughout the year.

John Langellier:
it's a historic park not unlike a colonial Williamsburg. It has excellent collections and fantastic exhibit in the more traditional museum sense. But it has festivals that brings toddlers and elderly and communities from all over the country.

Merry Lucero:
the Sharlot hall museum has a theatrical company where people walk around in character and wears the clothing day. It's learning of the past.

Ted Simons:
here to talk about the Sharlot hall museum and its 80th anniversary is John Langellier, director of the museum. Thanks for joining us. It's good to see you.

John Langellier:
thank you for the audience. These are the people we want to come visit.

Ted Simons:
the Sharlot Hall Museum what does it specialize in.

John Langellier:
it looks at territorial Arizona and focuses on the days of 1912 when we were not in the union yet.

Ted Simons:
this is not just a museum with a billing and that's it. This is not one building.

John Langellier:
no, it's not. We start out modestly the original governor's mansion from 1894. It has grown four acres of a campus, if you will, with a number of out buildings historical in nature. The first individual to run for president of the United States under the republican banner prior to Abraham Lincoln's home and other structures and a center being expanded for more exhibits in the future. And the research center of the graduate school that services tens of thousands of people on line and through the years doing research on the Arizona history and plateau.

Ted Simons:
talk to us about folks thinking of driving up to Prescott for the museum. What will they find?

John Langellier:
they will find it easy to get to. Unlike most of us dealing with traffic. Once there, we're two blocks away from the plaza and famous whiskey row. You can stop and have a burger or something heavier. We have a large structure and people can spend the day going to the shops and stores and restaurants and visiting us on a lush campus that has the much types of area that was found in territorial Arizona. It's park-like atmosphere like going to Williamsburg. Buildings come alive even though they are historical objects they are peopled by people who are providing tours and individuals like myself who is portraying the Governor John Malls himself.

Ted Simons:
when you get visitors, what surprises them the most?

John Langellier:
first of all, they expect something smaller. The name is confusing. Sharlot hall. Her name was not hall. It happened to be her last name. It's a bigger experience than they thought. That's the keyword. It's an experience not just the museum's gallery but collective nature of the buildings and programs. They are extraordinary. We have an creditably talented staff and gifted group of nearly 300 volunteers who make history come alive.

Ted Simons:
who was Sharlot Hall?

John Langellier:
she left in 1870 to come to the wilds of Arizona in 1882 as a ranching daughter. Self-educated, poet, historian and deserved to find the map of Arizona prior to the being the state and decided to include the north rim of the grand canyon. She never married. Her life was the museum. She lived in the historic governor's mansion when it opened in june of 1928 to be the on-hand curator.

Ted Simons:
at what age did she decide to have that as her calling?

John Langellier:
as early as 1909, she was the first female in what would be state government at the highest level at the time or prestate government. Not long after that, she felt we were losing the history and traditions and artifacts of the entire Arizona experience prior to statehood. It was about that time along with Becky O'Neil's widow and then the buildings named after extraordinary women who were her. There were a group of women who were more concerned with the history than the males who were supposedly the makers and shaker.

Ted Simons:
interesting. The challenges of a museum in general and especially one that's on a campus a-grounds as you say, where there's more than one building to take care of talk about a the challenges.

John Langellier:
this day in age we worry about utility and water. We have four acres to maintain and how do you keep it lush garden without a desert-looking situation. Getting people from the valley and Tucson and other places to visit with skyrocketing economy is difficult and people are not traveling around. We are a designation with the greater Prescott area and very much committed of being a designation for tourism and for local family and friends and neighbors and friends in state and out of state. Last year we had visitors from 50 states and 15 foreign countries. We're a state agency and a private-sector enterprise given the state of the budget today in Arizona, we have had draw downs that we have be more economical about doing business smarter and proactive to raise funds to sustain the quality. We are expanding rather than contracting.

Ted Simons:
People can find you on the web?

John Langellier:
The web site is back. www.sharlothall.org. Sharlot is an unusual spelling.

Ted Simons:
we have that on the screen right now Sharlothall.org. Thank you very much, I think this is a museum for folks that are new in Arizona that may be a good day trip.

John Langellier:
this is a good day trip. You can come back in the same night as well.

Ted Simons:
very good. Thank you for joining us.

John Langellier: my pleasure.

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