Opened & Dedicated 1959
By Charles R. Eatherly
Cochise County was created by a vote of the citizens in 1881 with Tombstone serving as its county seat. The two-story courthouse, designed in the Victorian style, was constructed of red brick in 1882. The courthouse, a splendid example of territorial architecture, continued to serve as a county facility until 1931 when the county seat was moved to Bisbee. The City of Tombstone leased the courthouse building until the County transferred it to the City on January 5, 1942. The City leased the building to the Tombstone Restoration Commission, and they restored the first floor and opened the building to the public in 1956.
Mrs. Edna Landin, President of the Tombstone Restoration Commission, brought the proposal of making the Tombstone Courthouse a State Park to the attention of the State Parks Board shortly after the legislation passed creating Arizona State Parks. In April of 1958, Mrs. Landin and several members of the Tombstone Restoration Commission attended a meeting of the Parks Board in Tubac to advise the Board that the City of Tombstone would donate the property if the Parks Board accepted it as a State Park.
The State Parks Board tentatively accepted the Tombstone Courthouse as a State Park pending acceptable agreement between the City of Tombstone, the Tombstone Restoration Commission, and the Parks Board. During the process of transferring the property, it was learned that the City of Tombstone did not own the land under the Courthouse as that land had originally been leased to the County for 99 years. The agreement was finalized and the City transferred the courthouse, its contents and the remainder of the 99-year lease on the property to the Board on August 1, 1959. Because of the restoration and rehabilitation work done by the Tombstone Restoration Commission, Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park was ready to open to the public and was Arizona’s first operational State Park. Dell Lamb was the first Park Manager.
The Tombstone Restoration Commission transferred ownership of a lot across the street and east of the Courthouse to the Park Board on April 4, 1960. This lot has been continually been used for visitor parking. The old Law Offices located across the street and north of the Courthouse were acquired by State Parks on January 12, 1973. State Parks negotiated a lease for the property under the Courthouse from the mining company in 1981. The Agency continued to lease the property until it was purchased on January 25, 1994. The last parcel acquired for the Park was the Ed Schieffelin Monument site located 3 miles north and west of the City. This property was donated to State Parks on December 31, 2003.