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Chrysocolla Inn: Globe’s Newest B&B

The Chrysocolla Inn may be the newest of Globe’s bed and breakfasts but the property itself has a long history in the area. In it’s heyday it was known as Mack’s Home Hotel and served as a boarding house and dining room for many of the local visiting elites, local miners, youth attending school from nearby towns and visitors here for dealings with the assayers office, which was just next door.

The old property which would eventually become Chrysocolla Inn looked to most like something to be torn down.
The old property which would eventually become Chrysocolla Inn looked to most like something to be torn down.

The property which sat just one block off the downtown district enjoyed a brisk business at the turn of the century, and by 1929, the McLeans decided to put on a third floor. Although the timing of the expansion couldn’t have been worse with the onslaught of the Great Depression and the closure of the Old Dominion Mine in ’31, the Home Hotel pulled through and continued to operate into the 40s.

Over the ensuing seventy years, the building changed hands several times. The McLeans sold it sometime in the 40’s, and from there it’s history is somewhat sketchy.  While it continued to serve as a boarding house and later as small utility apartments, by the mid ‘80s, it was unfit for human habitation and sat empty for nearly 15 years.

“My sister would walk by the place during high school and say, “I love that building!  She always wanted to own it,” says Holly Rooney, whose family now owns the property.

By the time the Rooneys purchased it in 2000, nearly 20 years later, the building was a shell of it’s former self. The years of neglect had not been kind and the property looked more like an aging bag lady from LA rather than the Grand Dame of Globe it had once been.  Paint no longer protected it’s plaster walls, rusting refrigerators sat in junk heaps on abandoned patios and porches where they had been dumped. Signs of sagging floors and walls hinted at structural issues, and wood beams, now dried and cracking, were beyond any simple repair.

“When we first went to look at the inside of the building, my sister immediately changed her mind,” laughs Holly. “It was just too far gone she thought, and she didn’t want to do it. But, I decided I did want to. I’d always thought that this would make a great B&B.”

Looking back now, after eight years of renovations it seems Heidi might have been right.

Recently, the property was on the home tour (in March) and many people asked if the renovations had cost a hundred thousand dollars. Holly laughs and says, “We only wish it had cost that!”

“Of course, we made it more expensive than it had to be,” admits Holly, “because we would get into something and decided it could be even better if we did something more than just what was required.”

A good example are the stairways in the home. Meticulously fabricated by Tim Harmon, a master craftsman and key to much of the home’s elegance, Harmon has been on the project since the Rooneys purchased the building. It was Harmon who replicated the original design of the staircase on the north side and made a matching set for the south. He also fabricated additional clothespin balusters to replace ones which were beyond repair, and re-worked the stair treads, ordering more Douglas Fir out of California to match that of the original wood. All the windows in the three- story boarding house had to be re-worked, and Harmon built the windows in the kitchen to match that of the original windows throughout.

Additional elbow grease was provided by Holly’s aunt and uncle, Pat and Howard Baldwin, who helped with the initial demolition, the making of the 90 window screens, the refinishing of nearly 40 original doors and many other projects throughout the eight years. All the bedroom doors were in surprisingly good shape for being nearly 100 years old, but all had to be refinished and the original hardware with keyhole locks refurbished to good working order.

When the Rooneys purchased it in 2000, Holly had just launched her new family practice and her mother, Rosemary, was involved in another project involving an adobe home, so the “Home Hotel” sat for almost a year.

“We also had to take some time to think about just what to do with it,” said Holly.

The property had solid 'bones' despite it's crumbling exterior
The property had solid ‘bones’ despite it’s crumbling exterior

They eventually began by doing demolition on the bottom floor and within months discovered unsettling issues such as wooden beams which had been cut off midway and no longer went to the ground floor for support. Globe’s new building inspector, Chris Collopy, suggested they would need a structural engineer and the building again sat for another year while they looked for an engineer who would come to Globe and assess their “treasure.”  That report revealed structural issues with the third floor which had been poorly constructed. The entire weight of the roof and third floor were being borne by just the outside walls. And beams could be seen bowing under the weight, threatening the entire structural integrity of the entire place.

“We were told that we need to have ‘major footers measuring 2ft x 2ft x 2ft with support beams running from the bottom floor to the roof,” said Holly. “So that whole summer, that’s all my mom and I worked on, is digging out those footers so the floor could be poured.”

Holly describes a huge rock pile that accumulated just from that project alone. Typical of ground anywhere in this area, any attempt to just dig out six inches, would invariably include a tussle with an immovable rock boulder which might take half a day to get out and result in a hole 2 feet deep.

Holly says this is one of her mother’s fortes. “She’s just been a major gardener all her life,” said Holly. “She’s always been able to get her crowbar in there and get any rock out of the ground! Plus, she’s just a very hard worker.”

Skills which were vital to the renovation of the old Home Hotel.

Rosemary Rooney, with daughters Holly and Heidi
Rosemary Rooney, with daughters Holly and Heidi

 

When asked if she or her mother ever had serious doubts about their decision to purchase the place, Holly says her mother would often wonder aloud if this had been a good idea. Holly “less so.” But even at the end of very long days when both were exhausted, Rosemary was known to smile and say, “This is kinda fun.”

Together, they laid the black and white tile on the lower floor, and all the brickwork. They did all of the tiling for the showers, and the custom plastering on the interior walls.

The work on the home took over eight years during which both mother and daughter continued to collect furnishings, artwork, hardware and construction items to be used in the bed and breakfast.  “Almost 90 percent of all the furnishings came from local antique shops and residents,” Holly says.

The home boasts 19 chandeliers- all unique- and all gathered from the local area.  The buffet in the main dining room came out of the renowned Copper Hills Restaurant which operated from 1954 to the late 1990’s. While much of the upholstered pieces came out of local shops, it was the talent of Colleen Beck and the fabric collection of mother and daughter which resulted in over 40 upholstered pieces gracing bedrooms and common areas.

While all of the beds serve to reflect the time period of the home itself, two in particular have direct ties to local lore. Two of the iron beds came out of the Sang Tai Restaurant on North Broad, a well-known, Chinese establishment which operated from the late 1800’s up into 1960 when the son took over the property and changed the name to the Star Buffet. The beds were purportedly used by working girls on the 2nd floor during some point in the building’s history although much of the details have been lost to history.

The property dates back to the late 1800’s when Modesto Borques owned it from 1896 to 1909. When he passed away, his estate was settled and the property went to Charles Clark. It continued to go through several hands until 1915 when Margaret McLean purchased it from R.L. Alderman and the family renovated the property into a hotel for travelers.

“We have always believed it was built in the late 1800’s because in photos from that time  period you can see a two story structure behind the post office,” says Holly. “We also believe the property may have been where Big Nose Kate had her boarding house after she split from Doc Holliday.”  Although the history books are not clear on the details, Holly says several people stopped by during the eight years they worked on the place to talk about it’s history. One older man said his mother used to manage it and that it definitely belonged to Big Nose Kate. And another historian pointed out a document which states her place was “off Broad”, (not on Broad Street as some have suggested), lending credence to the possibility that this was home to the famous madame.

The lower den as it looks today
The lower den as it looks today

However, a majority of the home’s historical information came from a McLean son, now in his 80’s, who stopped by during the construction to share some stories about the place. Seems Mrs. McLean was a cook of some renown, and the Hotel offered meals not only to guests, but the local population as well. According to the son, “…the line at meal time used to stretch all the way down the street to Hill Street, and back in those days the clientle included the Mayor of Globe and other important people.

Today, the Rooneys have big plans for the place including a full service bed and breakfast, and hosting special events and small weddings. They have named their place, “The Chrysocolla Inn” as a nod to the mineral wealth of the area. They plan to  serve full breakfasts and Holly explains there are also plans to extend food services to the general public next Fall.

“I’d like to look into doing a brunch, and/or dinner…maybe two days a week.” she says. “ I’m not sure exactly how many days or what the menu will look like, but we definitely want to expand into that next Fall.”

The Rooneys expect to open the B&B by the end of May or early June and will be launching a website this summer for the bed and breakfast.

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