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Did You Know: Jerome Grand Hotel Home To Arizona's First Self-Service Otis Elevator

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
Published: Friday, May 22, 2015 - 2:57pm
Updated: Friday, May 22, 2015 - 4:21pm
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(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
The Jerome Grand Hotel is five stories high and made of concrete. It was built in the mid 1920s as a hospital.
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
The Otis elevator at the Jerome Grand Hotel was the firs self-service elevator in Arizona.

It was the first of its kind in Arizona and it was installed in a booming town early in the last century. And it’s still in use today.

The Jerome Grand Hotel is one of the oldest buildings in the central Arizona town. It was built in the 1920s and among the many unique part of this place is the elevator. Did You Know….this Otis elevator was the first-of-its kind in Arizona?

“It was brand new, state-of-the-art deal back then," said Chris Altherr, manager of the Jerome Grand Hotel. “Yeah, was a self-service that didn’t require an operator to go up or down with you. People come up to Jerome from all parts of the Globe to see this building and ride that Otis elevator.”

This self-service elevator was installed around 1926 when this was originally the United Verde Hospital. It was built by the local mining company when Jerome was a booming mining town. There were about 15,000 people that lived here. The five-floor, concrete hospital was built to withstand mining blasts. It was the last major structure built high on the Cleopatra Hill.

“They wrote a blank check for this hospital," Altherr said. "They said, 'we don’t care what it cost.' They were making that sort of money in these mines.”

The ground floor lobby was actually the hospital emergency entrance. The elevator was the way patients were taken to any of the 52 hospital beds on the upper floors. It served Jerome residents until the mid-1950s. Mining in the town dwindled, people moved to other mining areas and the hospital closed. It remained closed and empty for more than four decades, until Altherr’s uncle and father bought the property. 

“Yeah, they knew they were getting a piece of history," Altherr said. "We didn’t know if everything would be able to be brought back up and work. We’re luckily able to get it going. And yeah, it’s been serving us for 20 years and that thing, it never gives us any problems. That elevator just runs like a champ.”

If you’re wondering if you can hop on the elevator and ride it? Well, hotel guests are given elevator keys when they check in to take it to their room on the upper floors. 

And by the way, Jerome is known for being a ghost town. Well, this elevator has its own ghost story. It’s believed that an elevator maintenance man mysteriously died under it while working on it. Today, guests are encouraged to record their mysterious encounters or experiences in books left on the lobby counter.  And there are many entries in the books sitting there.

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