Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The once majestic Ben Hur building

We recently received a donation of a photograph that shows the Ben Hur building not long after it was completed in 1911. Note that the lower level is not yet girdled by black marble, which was added in a 1940s renovation.

This undated photograph must be from spring 1913 at the earliest. How do we know? For one thing, the flag on the side of the building has 48 stars -- and Arizona entered the Union as the 48th state in February 1912. But the movie posters show by the Princess Theater (just to the right of the Ben Hur building) provide the final clues.One poster advertises "The Winning of White Dove," a short that was released on 30 November 1912. Another poster shows "Struggle of Hearts," a short released on 3 December 1912. This is not a winter scene, so we can assume the photo was taken sometime in 1913 during warmer weather. If we have time, we may eventually look through our old newspapers to see what even caused the decoration of the Ben Hur building, and when these two shorts were advertised in town.

Donated in the name of Thomas D. Stewart.

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