Florence will celebrate its 27th Annual Tour of Historic Florence on Saturday, February 11, 2012 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Eleven historic homes, commercial buildings, and public buildings dating from 1868 to 1930 will be featured on the tour.
Florence is noted for its collection of Territorial period architecture with over 120 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The heart of the downtown commercial district retains much of its original western character with old adobe homes, graceful Victorians, and early 20th century commercial structures. The tour not only focuses on the town’s architecturally significant buildings, it also gives visitors a glimpse of Florence’s colorful past. The stories that shape Florence’s history run the gamut from old west gun fights to politicians and movie stars.
New to the tour this year, visitors will be impressed with the Southworth/Clemans House that features distinctive stained glass and tiles from a castle on the Rhine in Germany. The home belonged to William J. Clemans, Jr. and until recently, his descendants. Clemans and his brother M. Twain Clemans produced Madison Square Gardens Rodeos in New York City and Boston from the 1930s to 1950s. Gene Autry and Tom Mix were known to stay at the Clemans home whenever they visited Florence.
The Windmill Winery is another property that is new to the tour. The Windmill Winery sits on the site of Florence’s first brickyard and contains a 1910 dairy barn that was transported plank by plank from Wisconsin a few years ago. The most unique site on the tour this year is the 1880 Rittenhouse/Arriola’s Cosmopolitan Store building on Main Street. Today, the building houses the Rynning’s Rangers Museum where visitors can test their shooting skills in quick draw competitions, with rubber bullets of course!
To commemorate the Arizona Centennial, the Pinal County Historical Society Museum will host the “Pictorial History of Arizona” presented by author Jim Turner at 2 pm. History comes to life at the Blue Adobe Meeting Center where local historians perform during the Southwestern History Hub Matinee Show at 12 p.m. After touring Florence’s downtown historic district, visitors can stop by the Florence Aeromodeler Park to see the Fun Fly & Swap Meet just two miles south of town on State Route 79.
The self-guided Tour of Historic Florence begins at McFarland State Historic Park, at the corner of Main Street and Ruggles Street in downtown Florence. Admission for adults is $10 in advance or $12 on the day of the tour, children under 18 are free. Trolleys will provide transportation to all tour sites except the Windmill Winery. Proceeds from the tour support downtown revitalization activities of the Florence Main Street Program. Visit www.florencemainstreet.com or call 520-868-4496 or toll free (866) 977-4496 to buy tickets or get more information.