/ Modified jul 27, 2023 9:23 a.m.

The Buzz: Walking Through Historic Globe, Arizona

The city is more developed than many of its Copper Corridor neighbors thanks to its history as a headquarters for the mining industry.

Cobre Valley Center for the Arts The former county courthouse in Globe is now home to the Cobre Valley Center for the Arts.
Globe Historic Downtown Association

The Buzz

The Buzz for July 28, 2023

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The Buzz's road trip through the Copper Corridor continues with a stop in a city that was once an economic capitol for the mining industry that gave the area its name and continues to be the seat of power for a county known for its mountainous terrain.

Globe was established in Arizona's territorial days, and its population has stayed around 7,000 people for most of its existence.

Its geographic location made it a natural choice for a city that would act as a hub for eastern Arizona from its founding.

The city was the end of a major east/west rail line in its early days, said Molly Cornwell, manager of the Globe Downtown Association.

"So they had to figure out a way to get people off of the train and then get them to Tucson or Phoenix or wherever to continue on to Los Angeles or the opposite direction," she said. "So they would market [Globe] as come see our Native American culture or ride a horse or those sorts of things."

The city also sits amidst mountains that are rich in copper and other minerals, and its status as the Gila County seat made it a natural fit for the economic and legal backbone of the area's mining industry.

"This area was very profitable in various resources. We had gold mines, silver mines, and we're still doing well in copper and there's thorium and other things in the area, but specifically it was a stock city," said Eli Webb, a tour guide at the 1910 Jail Museum. "So there were several different law firms and a lot of different business firms that were buying and selling the stocks of the mines all over the state. The downtown had all of the miners and the business associated with miners, but it also had a rather affluent banker class community."

Tom Thompson saw the end of that era. He is a lawyer who has been practicing in Globe for more than 50 years

"I came here in 1973 and when I did I went to work for a law firm called Morris and Malott. At that time, it was the oldest law firm in the state of Arizona, it opened in 1912," said Thompson. "They worked for the mines. That's all they did. They had a suite of offices in Washington, D.C. and this was a very powerful place because a lot of money was spent doing things in Congress to help the mines. That's why this place was as important as always at the time."

But, as mining matters moved out of Globe to places like Phoenix, the town saw its power and influence shrink. Today, it holds its appeal as a community where people can escape the hustle and bustle of those bigger cities while remaining a short distance away.

There is also another advantage to being a small city based largely around older buildings, walkability.

Cornwell boasts that Globe has a walkability level on par with San Francisco while walking and pointing out what old buildings used to be.

"This was the Woolworths that Globe refused to let the Woolworth company close, so they left it open until it was very last on this side of the Rocky Mountains," she said. "People came from everywhere for Woolworths nostalgia. There was a Sears and a J.C. Penney. This area was bustling."

Molly in front of Hollis Molly Cornwell, manager of the Globe Downtown Association, takes a selfie in front of Hollis Cinemas.
Molly Cornwell

Today, those storefronts downtown boast typical conveniences like restaurants and nightlife, but there are also shops, a pharmacy and a grocery store.

"We have a building downtown here that a friend of mine, who is a lawyer down in Phoenix, just purchased," said Thompson. "And he said, 'I want to get away. I want to come up here and I want to be able to walk. He was so impressed to be able to walk over to the movie theater. I mean he is so excited about coming up here and I see a lot more of that."

That movie theater is Hollis Cinemas. It sits in a building that is only about 15 years old.

One of two Fox Theaters that called Globe home burned down in the early 2000s, along with a hotel that sat next door. That gave Bob Hollis an opportunity to build back with a modern movie theater that has four screens.

"We do all first-run movies. We'll do some smaller stuff when we get the chance," he said. "My film buyers, I've been using the same guys for 25 years at least, and we can get pretty much whatever we want."

While this theater is relatively new for downtown Globe, the Hollis family is not. Bob Hollis' father ran the aforementioned Fox movie houses starting in the 1950s, and the family also had a drive-in theater that closed when its technology became too dated to show modern movies.

"Not a lot has changed. Globe is still a small town, I'm going to call it quaint, right?" said Hollis. "It is a quaint small town. We're trying to grow and we have some opportunity now, so hopefully within the next few years we are going to see some more growth. And with more people coming to Arizona, I think we will."

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