|Local resident Hank Wingfield donated the Commanding Officerís Quarters to the Fort Verde Museum Association in 1965, in memory of his wife, Myrtle Hough Wingfield. It and the museum would be the only two pieces of the fort to revert back the Camp Verde Historical society, successor to the museum association, if the park closed.|
|The restoration of Fort Verde began in 1956 when Harold and Margaret Hallett sold the fortís former administration building to the Camp Verde Improvement Association. After some restoration work by local volunteers, the building became the fortís museum.|
CAMP VERDE - The U.S. military abandoned Fort Verde on April 25, 1891. The last unit to leave arrived at Fort Whipple in Prescott a couple of days later.
The next summer, the military returned, dug up their dead and shipped them off to a cemetery at the Presidio in San Francisco. Technically, the dead were the last to leave.
Assuming squatters rights, the residents of the area began using the fort's hospital for a school the next year.
Feb. 6, 1895, the 9,000-acre military reservation surrounding the fort was opened to homesteaders.
Aug. 3, 1899, the post, the property containing the buildings, was sold at auction.
Its disassembly began immediately following the auction. Within a year, most of the buildings were torn down and the materials hauled off.
In 1940, Harold and Margaret Hallett purchased the former administration building to use as a temporary residence while they built a new house.
By 1953 they decided it was not worth keeping and made plans to tear it down. But a change in heart by the Halletts led to a community-wide crusade to save what was left of Fort Verde and open a museum. By then only four of the 22 original buildings were standing.
In 1956, the Halletts sold the administration building to the Camp Verde Improvement Association. Deciding the fort needed its own caretaker, the CVIA created the Fort Verde Museum Association. In 1961 the CVIA sold Fort Verde to the Museum Association for one dollar.
The museum association purchased the Bachelor Officers Quarters from the Stevens family in 1964. The next year local resident Hank Wingfield purchased the Commanding Officer's Quarters and gave it to the museum in memory of his wife, Myrtle Hough Wingfield.
It wasn't long before the cost in time and money of rehabilitating and maintaining the old buildings, operating the museum and coming up with the estimated $1 million needed to purchase the Surgeon's Quarters, parade grounds and adjacent properties was deemed to be beyond the means of the museum association.
Negotiations began with Arizona State Parks in the late 1960s. Aug. 21, 1970, the State of Arizona purchased the three parcels owned by the museum association for one dollar. Oct. 10, 1970, Fort Verde State Historic Park opened to the public.
However, the museum association retained a reversionary interest in some of the property.
The contract conveying Fort Verde to the state contained a clause that stated if the property ceased being a state park, two of the three parcels - the Commanding Officer's Quarters and the administration building - would be returned to the museum association or its successors.
In this case the Camp Verde Historical Society, which formed shortly after the fort was sold, became the successor to the Fort Verde Museum Association.
Should Fort Verde cease to be operated by the state as a park, the only things the historical society would take possession of would be two buildings and a one-page list of artifacts.
And the disassembly of Fort Verde would begin once again.