LB - Sedona Rotary 0419

Home | Classifieds | Place Ad | Public Notices | Galleries | Kudos | Obits | Real Estate | Subscriber Services | Villager | Health Directory | Contact Us
The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : features : people, places & past May 1, 2016


11/26/2013 1:18:00 PM
Family copper collection finds home in Clarkdale (with video)
Shot 2 weeks before the grand opening on December 1, 2013, the nearly completed (just the final details remained) Copper Art Museum is quite a feast for the eyes.
Drake Meinke
Drake Meinke

Yvonne Gonzalez
Staff Reporter


CLARKDALE - It's taken Drake Meinke eight years and almost a year of running practice tours, but the Copper Art Museum in Clarkdale is set to open its doors officially on Dec. 1.

Meinke bought the former Clarkdale High School building to house his family's large collection of copper antiques.

"We refurbished the floors, the walls, the ceiling, the roof, the plumbing, the electricity, the bathrooms, painting. We've done absolutely everything to include 450 panes of glass that were broken or plastic that we replaced in the building," he said. "I still have a lot of stuff in the building to finish up."



The family business

Three generations of Meinkes have dealt in antiques and copper specifically.

"In 1919, my grandmother started an antique shop in Northern Minnesota," Meinke said. "She was in the antique business for a long time, and that business passed to my mother."

In the 1960s, the second generation of antiquers took to road shows, traveling to cities like Chicago, Wyoming, Dallas and Minneapolis.

"When she was selling at the shows, she started to focus more on copper items and getting away from just generalized antiques, like glass and ceramics," Meinke said. "From the 80s and 90s, she was more into just copper artifacts."

When antique road shows starting to become less popular, the Meinkes sought out a new venue for their copper wares.

"In about the year 2000, her collection ... was quite large and I came up with the concept that maybe we can start a small museum," he said.

Copper Mountain Antiques in Jerome is owned by the Meinkes and has supported the efforts of the museum through retail sales. Residents have donated or loaned pieces to the museum as well.

The company-owned town was home to a smelter where workers extracted the copper from ore mined in Jerome. Copper baron William A. Clark started the town in the late 1800s, having run a successful mining operation in Montana and sold land around a railroad that became Las Vegas.

It was built in the spirit of the City Beautiful Movement, incorporating a range of architectural styles, wide streets and affordable housing. Clarkdale has become the state's largest rural historic district with 386 buildings on the historical register.

"So Clarkdale had a lot of attributes for us to move here," Meinke said. "Architecture, the unity of the town, and all sorts of different things."



Making a museum

After two years of part-time work, Meinke settled on Arizona, a state with copper as its fifth economic C.

Meinke, a former Army researcher, said the location needed to have enough traffic to bring visitors, and a less industrialized atmosphere where a copper art museum would fit in, whittling down a list of candidate cities and towns including Bisbee, Ajo, Globe, and Morenci.

"Then I found the town of Jerome, Arizona," Meinke said. "I had been to Jerome before. My grandfather was an editor for a newspaper in the 1920s and '30s when Jerome was in its heyday, and he told me when I was a kid that if I ever got to Arizona, make sure I go to Jerome."

The lack of suitable real estate in the small hilltop town sent Meinke back down the winding road, where, instead of making a right onto the 89A, he went straight and stumbled into Clarkdale.

"I drove down into Clarkdale and I just drove past this building, the former Clarkdale High School building, and it was for sale," he said.

He started researching yearly tourism traffic in the towns and national parks like Tuzigoot National Monument, which is almost visible from the back of the copper museum. As he looked into Clarkdale's history, he found that the former company town fit with his project.

"Jerome is only a mining town," he said. "Clarkdale actually made the metal, and that's what's featured here, is what man made with the metal."

The museum occupies the first floor of the old school, and Meinke lives in one corner of the upstairs with the rest devoted to research and exhibit preparation.

"If something should happen, we're here," Meinke said. "Say a water pipe breaks. Somebody could respond immediately rather than losing 50,000 gallons of water and having an $800 water bill, somebody could be out there to fix that right away."



The Copper Art Museum

Four years of full-time work have yielded glass display cases made from old windowpanes from the smelter, and wood from the Old King Mine in Jerome has been smoothed and shined to form shelves that display anything from copper cooking pots to giant wine jugs.

Carlos Romero worked on carpentry, glasswork, and painting among others, Jonathan Russell worked on the welding, and Meinke's daughter, Monica, worked on the large informational posters and graphics that are part of the tour.

Colors and materials were chosen based on how well they would offset the copper wares. Light-colored stone tiles line the countertops and edges of display cases, and the former linoleum-clad floors are now smooth concrete painted a greenish tint.

The first room of the museum is devoted to information and background on copper. The second is lined with military art, showing what soldiers used copper for and "how they made military trench art and hammered items that they used to make during the world war."

Third is the architecture room, and next is the cooking room.

"It's the first metal discovered, so they've been using copper for at least 10,000 years to cook on," Meinke said.

The next room holds containers for beer, milk or water.

"The final room is the room we added in," he said. "Because we're such a wine-producing region nowadays, we felt it was important to add a room about copper and wine."

Without a board of directors, Meinke decided he'd direct people in his museum using thin sheets of copper cut to resemble footprints and placed beneath a clear coating on the ground.

"If you don't get the beginning of the tour, you don't get the complete idea about copper or where it comes from and how it came about and all the affinities that are associated with copper," Meinke said.

Meinke is using the one original display case left to house memorabilia from the school, including a notebook and stack of report cards he recently found in a heating duct.

Rates vary for schoolchildren, seniors, veterans and Clarkdale residents, but a ticket to the museum will cost about $10. People will be able to choose between taking an organized tour or exploring on their own.

"Copper is an amazing metal," he said. "It's truly amazing how copper came about in this world, how man discovered it, how he made it into artwork, and all the affinities that are associated with the metal are almost mind boggling."

ICT - Lamb Auto 0501 180x150

    Most Viewed     Recently Commented
•   Mingus recognized among America's best high schools (3358 views)

•   Blaze destroys RV and jeep Sunday; freeway traffic blocked (2852 views)

•   Horrors of human trafficking hit close to home in Verde Valley forum (with video) (2611 views)

•   Cottonwood gets first bee scare of spring season (2450 views)

•   New subdivision, 500 homes: Vineyards at Cottonwood coming soon (2342 views)





Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to Facebook character limits. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Required
Last Name:
Required
Telephone:
Required
Email:
Required
Comment:
Required
Passcode:
Required
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.
   


Advanced Search

HSE - We want to hear from you
HSE - Father Son Look a Like Contest
Find more about Weather in Cottonwood, AZ
Click for weather forecast





Submission Links
 •  Submit your feedback about our site

Find It Features Blogs Celebrate Submit Extras Other Publications Local Listings
Classifieds | Place Ad | Galleries | Kudos | Real Estate | Subscriber Services | e-News | RSS | Site Map | Find Verde Jobs | Contact Us
LB - RoomStore 0422 P#6108-1221 728x90

© Copyright 2016 Western News&Info, Inc.® The Verde Independent is the information source for Cottonwood and Verde Valley area communities in Northern Arizona. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Western News&Info, Inc.® Verde News Online is a service of WNI. By using the Site, verdenews.com ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the Site's terms of use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the Site. Click here to submit your questions, comments or suggestions. Verde News Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved