A black and white postcard of Main Street. The Copper Queen Library, the post office and the Bank of Bisbee can all be seen. The front caption at the bottom left reads: “Bisbee, Arizona”. The postcard is unused and was published by the L.L. Cook Company, Milwaukee on Kodak Paper. Foster, Thomas N Collection.
In 1880, Members of the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company arrived in town to find the body of a man who had been hung the night before. They were so shocked that they decided the town needed more civilized diversions then the brothels and saloons. In 1882, the first Copper Queen Library with 400 books was established in the east end of the Copper Queen Mercantile Store. By 1885, the Copper Queen Library had its own building, white two-story wood building housed both the library and the post office on the lower floor. The second floor was for lodge meetings, church services, dances and other social gatherings. The Sign above the door read: “Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Co. Library Reading Room” In 1887, Reverend J.G. Pritchard became the first paid librarian at the Copper Queen Library. He also served as the postmaster until the volume of mail became too much for a single person to handle. In 1888, the fire that swept through Bisbee and claimed the first library, completely burning the building and all of its books. In 1892, the second library was constructed with brick in the same Italianate style as the Phelps Dodge building. This second library lasted for fourteen years and was torn down in 1906 to make way for the third and final Bisbee library. Designed by Frederick C. Hurst, the third Copper Queen Library celebrated its opening in March 1907. The first floor served as the post office, the second floor as the reading and game room and the third floor was the library. By 1908, the lack of home delivery of mail insured that the Bisbee post office had the most rented mailboxes in the country- 3,200 and it had an all-female staff. The building survived both the flooding in August 1908 and a fire in October 1908 that claimed much of the commercial district. April of 1976, the Copper Queen Library was given to the City of Bisbee by the Phelps Dodge Corporation. - The Bank of Bisbee was organized by W.H. Brophy, James S. Douglas, Ben Williams, J.B. Angius and M.J. Cunningham and opened on February 19th, 1900 with a capital stock of $50,000 ($1,600,000 in 2021), which was collected in full beforehand. Many of the bank’s founders also served as its directors: Ben Williams, James S. Douglas, L.D. Ricketts, W.H. Brophy and M.J. Cunningham. They began in a section of the Angius building before moving into their final location in 1902. The Bank of Bisbee was built by architecture firm Trost & Trost and was constructed with concrete and brick. The site it was built on was once a fire station that served as a meeting place for City Council. When it was originally built, the Bank of Bisbee was decorated with four Ionic columns. Those were replaced with two Corinthian columns that remain today. The bank had a number of expansions: it first grew to occupy the Bisbee Drug Store that was on its western side and the second was in the 1920s where it expanded into a 22-foot lot were a saloon once occupied. In 1933, the Bank of Bisbee voluntarily liquidated due to the Great Depression. After the liquidation, the building was taken over by the Bank of Douglas. In time that was replaced by the Arizona Bank. Today, the Western Bank now serves the community in the old Bank of Bisbee. - As a city nestled in a canyon, Bisbee provided many unique views for photographers as the medium became widespread. Among the most popular views for photograph was the entrance to Main Street with the Copper Queen Library and post office to the left and the Bank of Bisbee to the right with the street snaking up the canyon eventually turning into Tombstone Canyon Road. This particular shot has remained consistent over decades and between different photographers. All these photos compared can give a timeline to Bisbee’s history by means of fashion and transportation. The earliest pictures of this view show the second Copper Queen Library built in the Italianate style; horse drawn wagons and burros are common, dating the photographs as being from 1892 to around 1907. The third Copper Queen Library along with the presence of the Warren-Bisbee Railway or trolley give the date of anywhere from 1908 to 1928. Black and white photos showing an abundance of cars and an occasional bus dates the image from 1929 to the early 1960s with the specific time can be gleaned from makes and models of the automobiles. Photos from the late 1960s and onward were full color as the popularity of color photography overpassed black and white images.