James ‘Rawhide Jimmy’ Douglas was a very smart and wealthy man who made a great decision after realizing the value of his company shares. Shares in his company, United Verde Extension Co., had gone from 15 cents to $35 a share within a four-year time period. Douglas was impressed by these numbers and decided to build a hotel for his miners and himself directly outside the entrance of the Little Daisy Mine in Jerome, Arizona.
The Little Daisy Hotel has 40 rooms, a grand dining room, reception area, and views of the gorgeous surrounding landscape. The hotel’s current owner, Lisa Acker, says “Supposedly, the miners felt like it was too fancy for them,” “but when they were here, they’d hot-bunk [share beds], doing eight-hour shifts.” She also adds that the hotel was originally equipped with “gang showers and bathrooms” except in the more luxurious rooms that were reserved for Douglas’ guests.
The hotel was built in 1919 but in the mid-1950s the hotel and area took a major hit. The mining economy in Jerome began failing and ultimately collapsed, which caused the hotel and surrounding area to fall into despair.
“They sold all the windows and doors, even the tile roof,” says Acker. “Everything was sold for salvage, and people just walked off with whatever they didn’t strip.”
In 1969 the building’s concrete husk was sold to William Earl Bell who had helped develop the atomic clock. It was sold as part of a larger land deal which involved more valuable adjacent property.
In 1995, Acker and her husband, Walter, purchased the property and began to turn the hotel into a private home. The two spent the last decade developing twenty-acres of land in Montana. Once the couple decided to sell that property, they were ready for a new project.
“We found this place, and Walter was like, ‘Would you want to buy it?’ ” Acker recalls. “I was like, ‘Um, it’s a pretty big place. Let’s go back and visit it again to make sure.’ ”
Acker and Walter returned back to Jerome to look at plans for the original hotel in the town’s museum and received a few bids from builders. After much speculation and planning, the two decided to purchase the once hotel.
Although the building was officially listed as 35,000 square-feet on 3.45 acres, they discovered that the hotel was nearly 9,000 square feet per level making the total of the home about 27,000 square- feet. According to Acker, they purchased the home for $190,000.
Now more than two decades later, Acker has put the home on the market listing it with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty for $6.2 million. Her husband, Walter, unexpectedly passed away last September and since then Acker mentioned that the home feels a bit excessive for one person. She continued to say, “People always used to say, ‘Only two people live there?’ “Now it’s, ‘Only one person?’ It makes me giggle.”
Acker and Walter did the majority of the home’s upgrades. They were living in an airstream trailer parked outside of the property while they worked to put a roof on the building. Then, they stayed in an enclosed part of the home and while working to make the rest of the home livable.
“A firm in Phoenix did all the exterior windows, which are made out of solid oak,” Acker says. The windows alone took a year and a half to make, during which time, “we just focused on other things,” she says. The couple was able to access blueprints from the home’s creation and they did their best to keep the same interior features and decoration.
“My husband made a lot of the furniture in the house, and he made the cabinets in the kitchen,” Acker says. “In the dining room, I can’t see anything he didn’t make, except for the chairs at the dining table.” The project was fully completed after nine years, Acker states.
While Acker discussed selling the home, she acknowledged that the home might appeal to someone interested in converting it back to a hotel but is hoping that the area can make the home appealing to buyers in search of a vacation home. “A family might like this as an extra home,” she says. “A lot of people from L.A. come out to this area. There’s Lake Powell and so many attractions.”