When President Lincoln created the Arizona Territory in 1863, it made sense to locate its capital in the Bradshaw Mountains, where the recent discovery of gold along the Hassayampa River promised to make the area a center of commerce. Later that year a delegation from the East finally arrived on the Santa Fe Trail, and settled in a park-like setting of mature ponderosa pines and sheltering ridges. The Territorial Governor’s mansion, completed in 1864, is now the Sharlot Hall Museum. The town was named for a then-popular historian, William Hickling Prescott.
The decades around the turn of the 20th century were Prescott’s most culturally formative times. Courthouse Square was a thriving center of business and entertainment, hosting such legendary lawmen as the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday in the 1870s and ’80s. Whiskey Row was notorious until the 1950s for its many saloons and brothels. It burned to the ground in 1900 but was immediately rebuilt. More elegant company could be found at the Elks Opera House, built in 1905, and across the street at the Hassayampa Hotel, which opened in 1927.