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Fain Park History

As you drive down Stoneridge Drive in Prescott Valley, AZ, or look across Fain Lake as you enter Fain Park, you will see a black chain link fence around the top of a small hill. That scattering of rock is the remains of a pre-historic 30+ room pueblo of the Prescott Culture. It was discovered by early settlers on land owned by G. S Fitzmaurice and is therefore called the Fitzmaurice ruins. The ruins were excavated by archeologists from the University of Arizona in the 1930’s, 1950’s and 1970’s. Artifacts from these excavations may be found at the Smoki Museum in Prescott, AZ. There are several trails in the area, including one to the ruins. A visit to the ruins may be arranged by contacting the site steward. The trail is not very difficult or long. The site stewards are quite knowledgeable about the site as well as the Prescott Culture.

The first white settlers to the area arrived with the Walker Party in 1863. These miners had found gold in the Bradshaw Mountains and followed Lynx Creek to the area where they found considerable amounts of gold. Records indicate as much as $100 million. The legend is that 2 members of the Walker Party thought they had killed a lynx, when they went to check on it, it bit one on the arm and would not let go until they shot it again. When they went to the creek to wash the injured arm they discovered gold. These two men gave Lynx Creek it name.

With the discovery of gold a community developed in the area including a Chinese Colony as well as more miners, not just gold panners, but extensive hydraulic and dredging operations made possible by the damming of Lynx Creek. The rusting pipes visible around the lake are remnants of these operations. The Prescott Valley Historical Society has a display of mining equipment located in an area on the north side of the lake.

By 1885 the Englishman Thomas Gibson Barlow-Massicks arrived in the area and created a town just east of the chapel called Massicks. The chimney of what is believed to be the combination general store, stage coach stop and post office on the Black Canyon Trail is still standing. The Black Canyon Trial was the main stage route from Phoenix to Prescott. In 1890 Barlow-Massicks built a Victorian style home for his residence where he would entertain troops from Fort Whipple. Locals called the home “The Castle”, because they thought Barlow-Massicks was of English nobility. Thomas Barlow-Massisck’s $10 millionenterprise ended with his untimely death from an accidental gun shot. The Castle is currently occupied as a private residence, but will revert to the citizens of Prescott Valley as part of Fain Park when the current resident leaves.

The Fain family had been in the Verde Valley area of Arizona since 1874. By 1917 Dan Fain and family had arrived in this area and had begun buying land for ranching in Lonesome Valley, so named by the troops of Fort Whipple. Johnie Lee Parsons arrived at age 12 in 1918 from Snyder, Texas. After high school in Prescott, she was training as a musician at the Conservatory in Ft Worth, Texas, but she became a rancher’s wife in 1928 when Norman Fain, her high school sweetheart, arrived in Texas to propose and brought her back to Arizona in time for the fall sheep roundup.

It was Johnie Lee’s desire to build a chapel - "nestled in the lap of nature and filled with the spirit of God, a safe haven that provided comfort and refuge to all who entered. "

The chapel was built specifically as a home for 8 beautiful stained glass windows. The windows have a history of their own. In 1896 the Sisters of Mercy purchased land and began construction of the Mercy Hospital located in what is now the Prescott College area. The stained glass windows were created in Germany in 1906 and were placed in the chapel located adjacent to the hospital. They were created using the European style process: glass coloration is created by oxidation of the earth’s elements - greens are oxidized copper, reds are oxidized gold. The designs are large sections of painted detail, not the individual pieces held in lead that we usually see. They are possibly the only European style stained glass in the Prescott area.

In 1940 the Mercy Hospital burned, but not the chapel, and the Sisters decided not to rebuild and the property was sold. In the late 60’s the chapel was sold and the windows were salvaged and stored, the new owners tried to secure a Roman Catholic Church in Arizona as a home for the windows but were unsuccessful. A gentleman named Henry Brooks (an organist at the First Congregational Church in Prescott and former Latin teacher at Orme School) thought they were the most beautiful things he had ever seen and began trying to purchase them. By the early 70’s Henry Brooks was able to purchase the 8 windows for $7000 and sent them to Phoenix to be cleaned and restored. He then spent another $3000 to build a chapel addition to his home to hold 6 windows. His 2 favorite were displayed in his living room.

The windows depictions are as follows:

  • The Sacred Heart of Jesus - honoring Father Edward Gerard, the long-time chaplain and friend of the sisters of Mercy Hospital.
  • Jesus’ Agony in the Garden - honoring Annie Eleanor King, member of a prominent local family, who died in Mercy Hospital.
  • The Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Mother of God - honoring Dr. J. B. McNalley, chief of staff at Mercy Hospital for several years and his wife.
  • St. Anne, the mother of Mary -honoring Mary Flinn, the blind infant daughter of Dr. and Mrs. J. Flinn members of a prominent Prescott family.
  • The Annunciation to Mary - honoring M. Granahan, a former patient at Mercy Hospital.
  • St. Joseph, Husband of Mary - honoring Father Peter Timmerman, the priest who first welcomed the Sisters of Mercy to Arizona in 1890.
  • St. Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles - honoring John Francis Connor, the nephew of Dr. McNally (Chief of Staff).
  • St. Elizabeth of Hungary - honoring John and Elizabeth Massing.

Over the years Henry Brooks had become friends with Johnie Lee Fain and they collaborated to bring her desire for a chapel and his desire for a permanent home for the windows together. The Fain family donated land for the 100 acre park to the city of Prescott Valley which opened in 1997. Johnie Lee Fain passed away in 1999 at the age of 93, and while she picked the location of the chapel and sat in on some of the design, it was her daughter, Carolyn Sue, who donated the money to fulfill her mother’s vision. Carolyn Sue was able to see the windows placed in the chapel, but passed away at age 67 before the chapel’s completion. Henry Brooks was able to visit the chapel many times before he passed away in 2006 at the age of 93.

The chapel was designed by Otwell Associates Architects and constructed by Wetten Brothers Construction Company. In 2002 the chapel was completed.

The chapel also contains hand carved hardwood pews which were originally in a Christian Science Church built in 1896.

Although the Chapel of the Valley is within the bounds of the Fain Park, it is actually the private property of a foundation created by the Fain family. It is made available for public visitation on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 - 3 by docents of the Prescott Valley Historical Society. It is available as a rental from the foundation for weddings, memorials and special events.

Please come and visit the chapel. Take time for quiet reflection or prayer or simply enjoy the beauty of the windows.