|Grace Marian Sparkes spent her life promoting Yavapai
County, overseeing the Prescott Frontier Days Association, the local
chamber of commerce, and working to establish many historic and
commercial establishments that define the region. Her work with local
business and political leaders was vital to promoting tourism in the
Region: North Central Arizona
Theme: Women and Community Building, Women at Work
|Graces Sparkes was born in Lead, South Dakota, in 1893, and moved to
Arizona with her family in 1907. She graduated from St. Joseph's
Academy in 1910 and attended Lamson Business College in Phoenix. From
1911 until 1945, she served as the secretary of the Prescott Chamber
of Commerce, later renamed the Yavapai County Chamber of Commerce. She
was secretary of the Prescott Frontier Days Association for 30 years,
establishing rodeo rules that are still used by professionals today,
and she is credited with creating Prescott's slogan, "Cowboy Capital
of the World."
Sparkes understood the need for first class accommodations to cater to
tourists and to put Prescott on the map, so in 1919 she approached
local business leaders and Mayor Morris Goldwater to raise the money
to build the Hassayampa Inn. Opening in 1927, the hotel hosted such
notables as Will Rogers, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable and Tom Mix. She
also saw the need for a retirement facility for early settlers, and
worked with local residents to establish the Arizona Pioneers' Home.
She played a crucial role in preserving the region's unique history
and, as a result of her efforts, numerous sites benefited: the
Coronado National Memorial was created in the Huachuca Mountains, land
was added to the Montezuma Castle National Monument, the Tuzigoot
Indian Ruins near Clarkdale were renovated, and the Old Governor's
Mansion in Prescott was restored. During the Great Depression she
worked with Sharlot Hall and the New Deal Civil Works Administration
to establish the "House of a Thousand Hands," the stone house now
called the Sharlot Hall Building at the Sharlot Hall Museum. Through
her efforts, the Veterans' Administration Hospital was founded at Fort
Whipple. In 1935, she worked with Sharlot Hall and Yavapai-Prescott
Indian leaders, Sam and Viola Jimulla, to convince the federal
government to set aside 75 acres of land for the Yavapai Reservation.
This was the first reservation established solely for the Yavapai
Indians in the state. In addition to her work securing funding and
support for these projects, she wrote articles for publications that
promoted northern Arizona and still managed to find time to hike and
tend to her mining interests in the Texas Canyon area near Benson.
Sparkes never married. She served on the Arizona State Board of
Welfare and worked on the Arizona Exhibit at the Chicago World's Fair
in 1934. After her death in 1963, the Grace Sparkes Activity Center at
824 E. Gurley St. was named in memory of the vital contributions she
made to the City of Prescott.
For further information see the Grace Sparkes Collection at the
Arizona Historical Foundation.
Grace M. Sparkes - Courtesy of the Sharlot Hall Museum