Picket Post Mansion Tours in 2012 ?

       Historic Picket Post House rarely opens to the public, and the weekend of December 10-11 was the most recent opportunity to see and walk through Colonel William Boyce Thompson's venerable mansion perched on volcanic cliffs overlooking his namesake Arboretum. No public tour are presently scheduled for 2012.

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When tours were offered in December of 2011, Arboretum daily admission of $9 was required to walk the half-mile main trail to reach the mansion gate - and mansion tour tickets cost an additional $20 each. Tour tickets were purchased in the Arboretum gift shop the day of the tour - tickets were not sold in advance. And visitors were urged to carry some cash along - by popular demand BTA Business Manager Bruce Klewer and his family served beer-braised and grilled bratwursts at lunch for a donation of $5-a-plate.

Preview the mansion tour -- Arboretum Volunteer
Patsy Akers posted Picket Post Mansion Tour photos on our Facebook

Money raised during these special weekends of mansion tours helps support Boyce Thompson Arboretum. The Arboretum opens at 8:00 a.m. during Fall and Winter months. There are no 2012 dates scheduled as yet for mansion tours.

Hot Brats
If tours are scheduled again in 2012, make sure to carry some cash along, too: by popular demand beer-braised bratwursts purchased from The Pork Shop in Queen Creek are often available at lunchtime for a modest donation of $5 a plate (including chips, cookie, and drink).

And Cool Tunes
Check this page again closer to any future mansion weekend tour date in case we have scheduled live music on the grounds -- when the mansion was open in October we had one afternoon of smooth jazz by Uno-Dos on Saturday, October 15, and then Mesa singer-songwriter Jim Pipkin was featured Sunday Fans of Mesa recording artist Jim Pipkin affectionately refer to his music as "Sour Mash for the Soul;" Jim is a charismatic performer here and shared his original music during an outdoor concert on the mansion grounds.

                  Garden Admission Required
Arboretum daily admission of $9 for adults or $4.50 for ages 5-12 is required to enter the Arboretum grounds - except, of course, for BTA annual members and also Arizona State Parks pass holders.
If you have questions about mansion tour tickets, please call 520-689-2723 during daytime business hours from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The mansion will open at 9:00 a.m. and close promptly at 4:00 p.m. both weekend days, closing with enough time to allow visitors ample time to walk the half-mile path back from the mansion to the Arboretum visitor center and main parking lot. Please note that dogs are not allowed inside the Mansion.

Check out Picket Post Mansion Tour Photos by John Aho                  

                 Frequent Questions
Boyce Thompson Arboretum staff will tell you that some of the most frequent questions posed by visitors are: "who owns that mansion on the hill?" and "do they give tours?" Picket Post Mansion, also known as the 'Castle on the Rocks,' was built by Colonel William B. Thompson, and was opened for these special mansion tours weekends to help raise funds for Boyce Thompson Arboretum

As of today the mansion is not wheelchair-accessible; Arboretum staff hope these mansion tours and fundraising efforts expected in coming years will expand mansion accessibility to all visitors. Please be aware that stairs must be climbed to enter the mansion, and also to move between floors once inside the building. Arboretum annual member Marianne Jensen posted this beautiful mansion interior photo.

       "Construction began in 1923, took 14 months to complete and cost $20,000 by some estimates," said Arboretum Director Mark Siegwarth. "The Colonel founded the Boyce Thompson Arboretum and donated his house and the surrounding property to the Arboretum in 1928. The Colonel passed away a few years later, in 1930. Picket Post Mansion was sold in 1946 to Walter and Ida Franklin of Globe for $40,000 as it became a financial burden to the Arboretum, then operated as a bed and breakfast. One of its more famous visitors was Admiral Richard Byrd's wife and two daughters in 1947, who stayed there as the Admiral was away on an expedition to the South Pole. Again, due to the cost of maintaining the Picket Post House, it changed hands again and was eventually was acquired by Rick and Tina Rose. Most people's memories of tours were probably during the Rose's ownership. On July 15, 2008, Arizona State Parks purchased the property to make the Arboretum whole once again.

       "Although renovations to restore the Picket Post House have not yet begun, the interest in the Picket Post House has led the Arboretum to open it for two weekends only to help raise funds for its operations," said Siegwarth. "The Arboretum generates over 90% of its own revenues. Without renovation and a larger staff, the Arboretum cannot keep Picket Post Mansion open, so do not miss this rare opportunity."

       Boyce Thompson Arboretum, near milepost #223 on U.S. Highway 60, is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily from October-through-April, and from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.during the months of May, June, July and August. For answers to other questions about Picket Post Mansion, please call 520-689-2723 during daytime business hours or email BTAinfo@ag.arizona.edu.

              Arboretum Weekend Events & Nature Tours