Fort Whipple Museum
Fort Whipple Museum
Fort Whipple, established in 1864, was named for Lt. Amiel W. Whipple, who led a military expedition into the area in 1853-54 and established the first access routes to nearby gold fields. The fort served as a tactical base for the United States Cavalry during the Indian Wars of 1864 to 1882, when it was also the information and entertainment center of the Prescott area. During the Spanish War, it was the headquarters for the Rough Riders.
Fort Whipple lives on today as the Fort Whipple Museum, located on the grounds of the VA Hospital on Hwy. 89 in Prescott. Housed in one of the 1909 military officer’s quarters, the Museum traces the history of Fort Whipple with Living History programs (on the third Saturday of February, May, August and November) and exhibits that include medical instruments, Army weaponry, the Buffalo Soldiers, maps, photographs and memoirs written by those stationed there. Details of upcoming Living History programs are included below.
The museum is a joint project of the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Bob Stump Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Sharlot Hall Museum provides the exhibits, and the Hospital provides the building. Painted in the original crème with green trim, the museum building is the only structure on their campus done in an authentic color scheme. Signs direct you to the parking lot at the bottom of a small hill. A verdant lawn with large native trees invites you to stroll up the sidewalk to the building. Once you walk up the steps and cross the broad front porch, you enter a historic home with exhibits.
If you are an historic house enthusiast, you will enjoy touring the first and second floor rooms for their architectural interest alone. If you want to learn the history of Fort Whipple from its beginning in 1864 to the modern-day hospital, it is all there in riveting exhibits with crisp text, historic photographs and compelling artifacts. Friendly, knowledgeable docents will give you a tour of the exhibits and answer any questions you might have.
Admission is by donation. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.