Phelps Dodge General Office Building (Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum)
The Phelps Dodge Headquarters Building, now the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum as it looks today
Mining equipment in from the building
1909 photo of Bisbee during the Fourth of July festivities. The The Phelps Dodge Headquarters Building is seen in the center of the photo (side of building featured)
Backstory and Context
The Phelps Dodge General Office Building served as headquarters for copper mining and smelting activities that proved pivotal in the company's evolution from a family-dominated partnership into a "modern" corporation which moved in step with the changing character of American business in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Moreover, the structure is the only important early Phelps Dodge office extant in the entire United States. From the mid 1850s until the late 1880s Phelps Dodge's national headquarters were situated on Cliff Street in New York City. Afterward they were at 315 West Street for approximately 10 years and then at 99 John Street for many more years. None of the structures that housed these headquarters remain.
The company became notorious for its anti-union tactics, primarily for the 1917 Bisbee Deportation. The company worked with a local group of private citizens and the county sheriff to deputize about 2,000 members of a posse. Given names of Industrial Workers of the World members and other miners, they arrested nearly 1,300 striking miners at gunpoint in Bisbee, Arizona at the Copper Queen Mine. Portraying the Wobblie miners as bent on war-related sabotage, the company ordered them expelled from the jurisdiction, deporting them to Hermanas, New Mexico. Company officials and the Sheriff seized telegraph and telephone lines to keep news of this from getting out.
After the Phelps company closed down this office in 1961 after the mines ran dry, the city decided to preserve both the building and the city's history by converting the office into the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum. Some years after beginning operations, the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum joined forces with the Smithsonian's Affiliation Program. Featured among its exhibits is "Bisbee: Urban Outpost on the Frontier," an in-depth look at the depths - and heights - to which miners and settlers went to carve a communtiy and a living out of rock.
- Byrkit, James. "The Bisbee Deportation." In American Labor in the Southwest. James C. Foster, ed. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1982.
- Goldfield, David. "Supressing Dissent." In The American Journey. David Goldfield, ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc, 2011.
- Cleland, Robert Glass (1952). A history of Phelps Dodge, 1834-1950. New York: Knopf.
- Schwantes, Carlos A. (2000). Vision & Enterprise: Exploring the History of Phelps Dodge Corporation. University of Arizona Press.
- ""Phelps Dodge General Office Building", September 1978, by George R. Adams and James B. Gardner (National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination)" (pdf). National Park Service. 1978-09.