During the three years it has been open free to the public, the Western Heritage Center has become a popular destination on Whiskey Row in downtown Prescott.
Center founder-owner and President Dennis Gallagher invited visitors to celebrate its third anniversary during the three-day weekend, May 27-29 filled with live music and other entertainment, raffles, door prizes and more. Hosts dressed in period attire representative of Western heritage.
Exhibits cater to broad range
Records show since its opening May 16, 2019, thousands of people from all 50 states and more than 55 countries have walked through the center doors at 156C S. Montezuma St., Gallagher said.
“We don’t try to keep track of where they’re all from,” Gallagher said. “But when they sign the guest book, we get a good idea. It’s gratifying to see more people traveling nationally and internationally,”
Prescott Mayor Phil Goode said he often stops in at the center. “I meet a lot of new people visiting town. I enjoy sharing what I know about Prescott. More important, when people come in WHC (Western Heritage Center), they realize how truly historic Prescott is in the scheme of Arizona history — its traditions and certainly its strong cowboy culture. They come in here, stroll around at their leisure, and walk out knowing they have seen things that were a part of the real lives of ordinary people.”
The group sponsored a fundraiser May 14 at the Elks Theatre on Gurley and is cooperating with the City, the Prescott Rodeo, the Prescott Chamber of Commerce and other local museums and hotels to help support the upcoming World’s Oldest Rodeo® June 28 through July 4.
While closed during much of the pandemic, the center’s image as a source for the preservation and promotion of western heritage has grown nationally and internationally.
“We’re providing a facility unlike any other in the region,” Gallagher said. “We are not a museum. Rather, our goal is offering visitors an educational experience that lets them focus on history and heritage of Prescott and Yavapai County. We have is a showcase of artifacts — art, music, literature, photos and movies, exhibits from real ranches and farms, mines and businesses — things that were a part of the lives of people.”
With no paid staff, the center has more than 40 volunteers keeping doors open for visitors.
(Photo by Ray Newton)