The Museum opened in November 1991, occupying former classrooms of the Clemenceau School. It was (and is) a labor of love and dedication on the part of the Verde Historical Society, whose members put in countless volunteer hours to make the museum a reality, and who continue to staff and maintain it, ensuring the continued preservation of the history of the Verde Valley.
The town of Clemenceau was originally named Verde. It was founded in 1917 by James Douglas as a company town to house workers for his nearby United Verde Extension (UVX) copper smelter. Since other towns by the same name already existed in Arizona, the post office requested the name be changed. It was renamed Clemenceau after French Premier, Georges Clemenceau, a good friend of Douglas.
In addition to houses for the workers, the town offered a company store, clubhouse with tennis courts, bank, boarding house, drugstore, gazebo, and a fine school, which also served children of nearby Cottonwood.
UVX's copper mining declined in the 1930's. By the end of 1937, the smelter closed and the town began losing its businesses and most of its population. When Cottonwood incorporated in 1960, Clemenceau and the Clemenceau Airport were annexed, becoming part of the City of Cottonwood.
With the exception of the school, the bank/post office and a few of the support buildings for the smelter, nothing remains of the original town of Clemenceau.
The Clemenceau Bank & Post Office
The historic frame building opened in 1918 as the Bank of Clemenceau, with Jimmy Douglas as its President. With deposits down in the depressed economy of the 1930's and two holdups (which caused the insurance company to cancel the bank's policy), it closed its doors as a bank in 1932. Two years later the Clemenceau Post Office moved into the vacant bank building. Until 1954 it handled the local mail as well as mail service to the communities of Cornville, Rimrock, Pine and Payson
The building was donated to the Verde Historical Society by George Siler in June 1999. It was moved from its original location on Candy Lane to its present site next to the Museum in order to save it from demolition. Scroll down to view the historic move.
Over the next three years members and friends of the Historical Society performed the Herculean task of restoring and refurbishing the building: laying concrete, carpentry, installing insulation and dry wall, electrical wiring, roofing, painting, reproducing the front porch and signage and setting up exhibits, which include the original bank safe and post office mail boxes.
The completed bank was inaugurated on October 26, 2002 at a gala ribbon-cutting ceremony. Officiating was Cottonwood Mayor, Ruben Jauregui, along with ambassadors from the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce, Cottonwood Post Master and Superintendent of Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District, John Tavasci. The occasion was commemorated by a "First Day" cancellation stamp, especially designed for the opening by Dick Kenney.
On the Move....