Do you love the smell of roses? Lots of people do! The roses in Tombstone have something really special going for them. They're in the Guinness Book of World Records. How could that be?
We passed up the Rose Tree Inn for a long time when we first began visiting Tombstone! The Rose Tree Museum and largest rosebush in the world just didn't fit our idea of what to see in historic, wild west Tombstone Arizona!!
Once we moved to town, we thought "maybe we should take a look and see what this place is about!" Especially since we want to help all of our website and Tombstone visitors appreciate every unique feature of this town that we love.
Maybe you've put off stopping in here also? Maybe you're wondering why you should go in here. So what is it about the Rose Tree Inn and Museum that should peak your interest?
The original Rose Tree Inn building is as old as the town of Tombstone. It was built by the Vizina Mining Company. The size then was smaller than presently. There have been many add-ons from the original. It first served as their office and boarding house. Mrs. Amelia Adamson was hired as charge of the boarding home. One of the first residents was the Vizina's mining engineer, Henry Gee and his wife Mary.
The Vizina mine claim was filed on August 8, 1878 by James M. Vizina and Benjamin Cook. It was nearby the Rose Tree Inn, adjacent to the Tough Nut mine.
The Vizina mine was adequate at first, but then began to dwindle in its ore yield. Cook and Vizina leased out most of the production from 1884 on. The office/boarding building was no longer needed and was sold.
That's when the Rose Tree Inn actually became an Inn - first as the Cochise Hotel. Situated relatively close to the Court House, just 1 block away. Many guests came to town for legal or court dealings.
By 1900 other new owners of this small hotel came into the picture. They changed the name to the Arcade. They worried about the strong Arizona sun's effects on the adobe walls. They solved it by covering the outer walls with decorative tin. In 1919, the Macia family purchased the hotel.
These tin outer walls perhaps were some protection to an event on May 20, 1924. A fire started between Fourth & Fifth Streets, along Allen Street. That early morning it quickly spread, destroying many businesses in that block. Through great efforts of the fire department, though, some were saved. The Arcade hotel's walls were seared by the flames - but the building was saved!
The Macia family eventually renamed the Arcade as the Rose Tree Inn - as the Lady Banksia Rose was already growing on the grounds.
Amelia Adamson took care of the Vizina Mine's boarding house, which is now the Rose Tree Museum. Henry and Mary Gee were among the first guests. They took up residence there while their own home was being built.
Mary and Amelia became good friends. Mary was a Scottish immigrant, who only just moved to Tombstone upon her recent marriage to Henry. When the young couple's own Tombstone home was finally ready, Mary received a home-warming gift from relations in her homeland. She opened the delivery box to find rootings of Landy Banksia roses arriving from Scotland.
She gifted one of these to her friend Amelia, and they planted it in the yard behind the boarding house. The rose took well there, and began to grow.
The story started with the marriage of two original Tombstone pioneering families: the Robertsons and the Macias.
S.Cris Robertson was a Colorado man who wanted to make some money in the silver mines. He took a wife in Leadville CO on October 19, 1880. He and his wife Alice moved to Tombstone AZ. They arrived on December 24, 1880. They had 5 children. The first was Ethel, born in August 1881.
When Ethel was just 14 years old, her mother Alice passed away. Ethel had to take on a lot of responsibility for her younger brothers and sisters. Then 4 years later her father was killed and she became the head of the family. To earn a living she was able to get a job with the Cochise County Court House because of excellent penmanship. She and her sister were the first women to be employed by the Court House.
James Herbert Macia (pronounced May - See) was born in Massachusetts on February 21, 1872. He was sometimes called Bert - as a nickname. His family relocated to Kansas and Colorado. His father, a miner, died in a mining accident when they went to New Mexico.
James followed in his father's mining footsteps. He went to Bisbee AZ to work the mines at 17 years of age. From there he went to other Arizona mines in Oatman and Prescott. His specialty was as a "shaftman" which is why he then moved to Tombstone AZ in 1901. A crew was needed there to dig the Boom shaft.
He stayed on in Tombstone. He found regular employment there. He began working as a mining engineer at the Tombstone Consolidated Mining Company. He also met Ethel Robertson. They were married on February 4, 1904. They had 3 children, a son named for him - and 2 daughters, Iris and Jeanne.
James Herbert Macia Sr. had an eventful career with the Tombstone Consolidated Mining company. He rose to superintendent, staying in that position until the company went into bankruptcy on August 9, 1911.
After that he was employed by other Tombstone mining interests including the Solstice Mining & Milling Company. He did lease work on the Ingersoll Mine from the Hearst-Haggin Estate in 1929. With his success from the lease, Bert invested in mining properties. He later invested in a local health facility. J.H. Macia Sr. was a steadfast Tombstone citizen until he passed away in 1951.
Ethel Robertson Macia bought the Rose Tree Inn in 1919 - at that time called the Arcade. Visitors were noting how well that rosebush in the yard was doing! Even R. Ripley of the Believe It Or Not column wrote about it after a visit. He labeled it as the "World's Largest Rose Tree" - and began a tradition!
The word spread. Other news articles began appearing. With all this notoriety, in 1935 Ethel changed the hotel's name to the Rose Tree Inn.
Ethel helped the Rose Tree in its development. She assisted it by creating the trellis which supports it, as it has grown over the years. She also enjoyed speaking with visitors and telling its story.
As an early resident of Tombstone, Ethel was a member of the Arizona Pioneer Society, becoming its Vice President for quite a few years. She was always an active, vital person. She was interested in the welfare of everyone, especially those not so fortunate, and served on the Board of Arizona Children's Home.
She was very interested in history, and its preservation. She was a member of the Tombstone Women's Club, serving as 2 term President, on the Board of Directors, plus as the State Federation's historian. She helped organize Tombstone's 1929 Helldorado, the first, and was on the subsequent Board of Directors. She was a charter member of the Tombstone Restoration Committee, influential in many decisions. In 1897 she attended the University of Arizona.
She was a well respected, influential member of Tombstone. She was actively involved in the community right up until her passing at 82 years old, in August of 1964. Having lived a productive life, she was certainly missed by family and friends.
The tinned over adobe building is still in the Macia family. Although now it is a tribute to the rose bush that has become a unique and famous rose tree.
It's called the Lady Banksia Rose - R. banksiae alba-elena. It was brought to the UK from China around 1807 for the Royal Horticultural Show. In the show, it was named for wife of botanist Sir Joseph Banks, the Lady Sarah Banks. It blooms white flowers just as Spring is approaching through almost Spring's end.
The Tombstone Rose Tree, Lady Banksia is still growing more each year. It has millions of white rose blooms by April. That's a great time to visit, when the festival takes place! Read More>
You can visit this historical place, where the Lady Banksia Rose grows. Where the Macia family extended hospitality to many guests at the Rose Tree Inn.
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