Historic Florence building tour

A historic walking tour of Florence focuses on the buildings and people behind the founding of the town.

FLORENCE — A walk through downtown Florence aims to highlight the history of the town through its architecture.

The historic walking tour of Florence, which is held beginning at 10 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month, September through March, is a fundraiser for the Pinal County Historical Museum.

It’s led by H. Christine Reid, who worked for more than 20 years at the museum.

“Florence has some very unique buildings and an eclectic mix of architectural styles,” she said. “Looking at the buildings, you can see the history reflected in the styles.”

The stroll takes attendees past historic homes and buildings constructed at various times in the town’s history and reflecting the evolution of Florence’s architectural styles.

“There are buildings on the tour that date back to the 1800s,” Reid said.

Some buildings, such as Assumption Catholic Church, were designed to show how well established the town of Florence was, Reid said.

“Some of these buildings were built before Arizona was a state and people in the town wanted to show others how civilized the state was so that Arizona could get statehood,” she said.

Throughout the tour Reid tells stories about the buildings or the people associated with them.

“The tour gives people a different look at Florence,” Reid said.

“There are some amazing buildings on the tour and amazing stories associated with them.”

One of the highlights along the stroll is the historic three-story red brick Pinal County Courthouse, on Pinal Street.

Built in 1891, it was designed by an Arizona architect and features a late Victorian revival style of architecture.

It served as a county courthouse until the 1960s, when it was replaced and is currently on the National Register of Historic Places. After renovation, it houses the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.

“Some famous murder trials were held there,” Reid said.

Among the stories Reid likes to tell on the tour is that of Pearl Hart, who gained notoriety when she and an acquaintance robbed a stagecoach between Florence and Globe.

The two were captured and Hart was jailed in Tucson. She later escaped from jail but was apprehended a few months later and went on trial in the courthouse in Florence.

She was acquitted of the stagecoach robbery but later convicted on a charge of tampering with the U.S. Mail.

“Some of the most famous stories in Arizona history happened in that courthouse,” Reid said.

Throughout the tour, Reid also shares information about the early planning of the town.

“People will learn why the streets were created wider than other towns’ and why the blocks are shorter,” she said. “There’s so much to see and so much history.”

Each tour has a minimum of five participants or up to 12. Cost to attend is $20.

To sign up, visit the Pinal County Historic Museum at pinalcountyhistoricmuseum.org or call 520-868-4382.

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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.

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