Cactus Sunset

Cactus Sunset

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Nogales' Old City Hall marks a century

February 17, 2015 — By Crystal Bedoya – Arizona Daily Star  — Crystal Bedoya is a University of Arizona journalism student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at

An overcast and slightly wet Sunday afternoon didn’t stop the residents of Nogales, Ariz., and a brass band from its sister city across the border, from celebrating a century-old historical landmark.

The Pimería Alta Historical Society and Museum hosted the 100th anniversary of the Old City Hall at 136 N. Grand Ave.
Museum director Teresa Leal spoke about the importance the building has had throughout decades since it has maintained human history as well as having history of its own.
“This museum has incredible history,” Leal said.
At one point, during World War II, the second floor was used as a censorship room, Leal said.
A time capsule originally placed in the building’s cornerstone was opened on Nov. 19. Its contents, an assortment of important documents from the fire department, City Hall and the U.S.S. Silver Service were displayed during the event.
The U.S.S. Silver Service consists of 59 distinct pieces of silverware donated to the U.S.S. Arizona by the state’s citizens in 1919 and now displayed at the Capitol Museum, according to the museum website.
There were newspaper stories from the now-gone Tucson Citizen, the Nogales Daily Herald, firefighter badges and photographs of former volunteer firefighters.
Nogales Mayor John Doyle spoke about the families that form part of the border community throughout the years.
“They’ve all been a contribution,” he said.
The building once housed the offices of the mayor, the Fire Department and sheriff, along with two jail cells. It wasn’t until 1979 that the Historical Society made the Old City Hall its home.
In the last two years, renovations were completed on two sections of the building: the second-floor balcony and the Seth Thomas tower clock.
Gildardo León, a museum volunteer, spoke about the importance of the museum to the city, especially to its youth.
The Historical Society and Museum offer free children’s summer classes in general history and art. The museum provides opportunities for Nogales residents to create a direct connection to their past and ancestors, Leon said.
Raúl Saba, retired professor at the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona, attended the event. Saba’s grandfather, aunts and uncles formed part of the history of Nogales.
“It’s important because the museum is preserving a lot of the history and the culture. It brings together the two cultures,” Saba said. “In a sense it kind of shows that Nogales was really one city.”

Friday, February 20, 2015

Centennial Celebration - February 15, 2015

Truly, a Historic Day!

The Thunder Mountain Brass Band from Fort Huachuca performs in front of the Pimeria Alta Historical Society Sunday, Feb. 15. in Nogales, Arizona during the 100th anniversary of the Old City Hall. 
                                     — (video by PAHS board member Renee Baffert Guevara)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Monday, February 16, 2015

Centennial Celebration

Posted by: Jonathan Clark, Nogales International, January 23, 2015.
The centennial celebration of the 1914 Nogales City Hall and Fire Department is coming Sunday, Feb. 15 and organizers are promising “an afternoon of entertainment, new exhibits, refreshments and fun.”
   The celebration at the building at at 136 N. Grand Ave., now home to the Pimeria Alta Historical Society and Museum, runs 2-4 p.m. 
   The Fort Huachucha Thunder Mountain Brass Band will perform, as will the Nogales, Sonora Drum and Bugle Corp and the Tucson Fire Pipes and Drums.
   The City of Nogales has restored the second-floor balcony, where the ceremony will begin with short speeches from officials representing the city, NFD and the museum. 
   The second floor of the building, home to the Nogales Volunteer Fire Department, will be open for public tours and visitors can visit the quarters where volunteer firemen once slept. 
   The contents of the 1914 time capsule will be on display, along with other new historic exhibits. In addition, the city has restored the building’s rare 1915 Seth Thomas tower clock, and its chimes will be heard as the ceremonies begin.
   The event is free and open to the public. For more information call (520) 287-2646.

Article and photos posted by: Manuel C. Coppola, Nogales International, Feb. 16, 2015
To commemorate the Feb. 15, 1915 dedication of Nogales’ Old City Hall, the Pimeria Alta Historical Society closed off a lane of Grand Avenue on Sunday and treated about 100 attendees to music, a display of old fire engines and an open house at the society’s museum. Local politicians and officials spoke about the importance of the structure, which was built by local volunteer firefighters.

Centennial Celebration

Monday, February 9, 2015

Capsule contents stand the test of time

Posted by: Murphy Woodhouse, Nogales International, January 23, 2015

 Though the paper is slightly yellowed and stained in places, the text of the Nov. 18, 1914 Nogales Daily Herald and the Nov. 16, 1914 Tucson Citizen is likely as clear as the days they were printed more than a century ago.
Both editions, pulled from the time capsule removed earlier this month from the cornerstone of the Old City Hall building, had updates on World War I, then in its first months. Along the bottom of the Herald’s front page was news about Mexican Revolution battles crossing over into Naco, Ariz.
“Dick Reynolds shot at Naco last night,” one headline reads. “Fighting resumes at Naco this morning,” says another.
Stuffed into the hardback-sized metal container along with the newspapers were a number of colored Nogales postcards, featuring landmarks that still stand today, like the 1904 Courthouse, the town’s first high school, and the old Santa Cruz River pump house.
“The imagery is just awesome,” said Teresa Leal, curator of the Pimeria Alta Museum.
The time capsule also contained a fair amount of firefighter memorabilia, due to the fact that it was volunteer firefighters who placed it and built the building, which now houses the Pimeria Alta Museum. There are several black-and-white photos of the 42-man operation, an engine badge and a couple buttons, as well as several documents with information about the firefighters.
“It’s amazing how much they fit into that tiny box,” Leal said.
Getting that box open was no small accomplishment, said Faith Posey, a museum volunteer who carefully got the contents out late last week. Posey said the whole process took more than two-and-a-half hours.

“You have to be careful that you don’t damage anything on the inside,” she said.
Before beginning, Leal sought the counsel of the Arizona Historical Society, who recommended that those tasked with opening it “shoot for a worst-case scenario,” Leal recounted. That worst-case scenario could include intense damage from acids built up in the box, toxic fumes or any number of other issues that stem from century-long storage.
Assuming the worst “will guide you to take extra care,” Leal said.
After slowly peeling a corner away with a hacksaw last week, Posey got an idea of how the soldered box was put together and then cautiously broke the edges and peeled the short ends open with her lead knife. Glimpsing the inside, she saw that the worst had not come to pass.
With a pair of tweezers, she pulled the contents out inch by inch and could feel the tension rising in the room.
“It was interesting to see the excitement building among the people present,” she said of Leal and other members of the museum’s board who were there for the occasion.
After going through quite a process with this capsule, Leal said, the museum will be doing things a bit differently with the next one, which they plan on putting in the same place in November. For one, they’ll likely have a small safe for the capsule. More importantly, Leal said, they’ll include “instructions on how you open it. We didn’t have that and it was quite a risk.”
Leal said the postcards, photos and documents will soon be placed in an acid-free plastic sleeve to better preserve them.
The capsule’s contents are now on public display at the museum, which is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Time Capsule Contents
Old City Hall
Border Photos
USS Arizona

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Time Capsule

Posted by: Murphy Woodhouse, Nogales International, January 13, 2015

On Nov. 19, 1914, a handful of Nogales firefighters sent a small lead box full of letters, postcards and other tokens of the era, on a more than 100-year journey through time.
  After a day of searching behind the Pimeria Alta Museum’s cornerstone, which is where the time capsule was stowed, that journey ended Friday morning.
Wearing white gloves and a boyish smile, volunteer firefighter and City Councilman Cesar Parada carefully pulled the box out of its concrete resting spot after municipal employees carefully drilled it loose. The metal container was roughly the size of a hardback book, and weighed about the same in Parada’s estimation. The small group of museum diehards and history buffs surrounding him looked on in wonder.
Raising it up to get a look underneath, Parada added a little humor to the buoyant scene.
“Made in China?” he exclaimed incredulously.
After the first wave of excitement wore off, a more practical concern quickly became clear: the box was completely sealed shut and there was no obvious way to open it.
“We can just use a can opener,” Parada offered with a laugh.
According to museum curator Teresa Leal, getting the box open without further damaging its contents will take no small amount of care. Before proceeding, Leal said she intended to get advice from the Arizona Historical Society
“The box is hermetically sealed which means that there is a health risk of using a method that can damage the box or its contents,” Leal said, adding that “there are plenty of technical measures, but we must do it right.”
The museum hopes to have the box open and its contents out within the next several weeks. The state of the contents, however, is up in the air, as the acids likely present in the box’s documents can do serious damage over time.
While visual confirmation was impossible Friday, it is fairly well known what’s inside the box, Leal said. Among the items placed by Fire Chief Bracey Curtis and other firefighters are clippings from the Nov. 18 Tucson Citizen and Nogales Daily Herald; letters; fire department badges and other memorabilia, as well as a photo of the firefighters themselves.
The building that now houses the museum was originally built as the town hall and fire station. The centennial of the building’s completion is coming up on Feb. 15.
                        History repeats
Though the box was small and the likely items inside simple, everyone interviewed at the museum Friday morning said the moment was significant for Nogales. 
“You get that electric feeling,” Parada said as he held the box.
Leal said that time capsules have a special ability to communicate across decades.
“They can be used to bridge the time element and teach people about celebrating the passage of time,” she said. “In this fast society where everything happens so quickly, it’s good to have something from 100 years ago catch up with us. Time capsules have always had that ability to teach us about the intrinsic value of time.”
In an effort to pay forward the actions of the Nogales firefighters more than a century ago, the Pimeria Alta Museum intends to put together its own capsule in the coming months, said board president Suzanne “Susie Sainz.”
Pimeria Historical Society members can pay a $100 annual membership to add a small part to the capsule, which will be placed in the same cornerstone site in November 2015, according to Leal.
“History repeats itself,” Leal said of the effort to put in a new capsule.

Mario Ortega, an employee with the city’s streets department, works to loosen the time capsule from its 100-year resting place behind the Pimeria Alta Museum building’s cornerstone.

Nogales City Councilman Cesar Parada admires a time capsule Friday morning at the Old City Hall building. Pimeria Alta Museum Board President Suzanne Sainz is to Parada’s right and Treasurer Kiki Rodriguez is to his left.  

Thursday, December 25, 2014

December goings on at the museum, the hood and Tumacacori Fair.

Posted by: Teresa Leal, December 25, 2014