Jerome’s Little Daisy Hotel turned 100 years old on New Year’s Eve. It housed miners in the town’s heyday, then sat vacant for decades after the mines closed.
Now, after a 20-year remodel, the Little Daisy is a 12,000 square-foot home, and it’s up for sale with a $6.2 million price-tag.
But its history is priceless.
Jerome resident Tracy Weisel was able to watch the building come back to life.
His glass blowing and ceramics studio sits on the edge of town.
It overlooks Jerome State Historic Park and the land where the United Verde Extension Mine once sat.
“This used to be a grocery store,” he says. “It was called El Mercado La Victoria, and this was also the red light district, so it might have been one stop shopping.”
The area’s brothels were one reason United Verde’s owner, ‘Rawhide’ Jimmy Douglas, built the Little Daisy Hotel.
“Everybody and their uncle that were hard rock miners were spending a lot of money uptown between the brothels and the bars and everything else,” says Jerome Historical Society’s Jay Kinsella. “Douglas wanted to keep his work force close.”
When it was built in 1918, the Little Daisy was the last piece in what was basically a self-contained community for the miners.
"You got up in the morning, you got something to eat at the hotel, then you’d go subsurface for 12 hours, come out, take a shower,” said Kinsella. “There was something warm for you to eat, then you hopped in a bed that was still warm from the guy that just got up to go on his shift.”
The mine operated at full tilt through the first half of the 20th century, supplying the copper used in both world wars and the Korean War.
But, as open-pit mining techniques improved and copper demand dropped, mine operators left town.
And when they left, Kinsella says they stripped buildings of all they could: windows, doors, even the electrical wires and roofs.
“Because they were done with Jerome, they were basically trying to get as much money out of it as they could.”
The Little Daisy was bought by inventor William Bell. It sat gutted for decades.
Then, in 1995, Lisa and Walter Acker left many in Jerome in disbelief, including the staff of the real estate office, when they bought it.
“This one gal, she was really funny, she goes, ‘We usually give keys, but you guys are going to get a crowbar and a flashlight,’” says Lisa Acker.
It was nothing but concrete walls, abandoned appliances and what squatters left behind.
“There were trees growing up in this billiard room in here, and where they had a telephone room. Trees were growing up in there.”
The Ackers did almost all the renovation work themselves over the next two decades. Lisa Acker says their workshop earned a nickname with Jerome locals.
“All of Walter’s friends would say, ‘Hey, you got anything over there at Walt-Mart? because between plumbing, electrical, fasteners, whatever it may be, he had it.”
They turned the top floor of the building into a rooftop deck with a garden and lawn. Miners’ rooms were combined and converted.
But in other places, they kept its original authenticity, referring to historic documents, like the rebuilt reception desk.
“It’s based on drawings that they’d seen in the state park of what the reception desk had looked like,” says Donna Chesler, the real estate agent handling what is currently Jerome’s most expensive listing.
“Quite a few of the rooms are now made into beautiful master suites.”
One thing that remained, Chesler points out, what you see from the windows of the Little Daisy.
“You can see what a beautiful view of the hillside of Jerome out there.”
Lisa Acker will miss the view, but after her husband Walter’s death in 2017, she’s ready to pass the property to someone else.
“Because someone who gets this building, and has a heart for it and understands it will be the next best person,” she says.
For Lisa, the sale will be the ultimate downsize, because there aren’t any homes in Jerome that are bigger than the Little Daisy Hotel.