Citizen Staff Writer
By PAUL L. ALLEN
For more than a century, the Jácome family has contributed to and been part of the fabric of the Tucson community. Now the city wants to give something back.
That “something” is a monument and plaza at North Stone Avenue and Pennington Street, where the most recent Jácome’s Department Store was a high-visibility anchor in the heart of downtown.
Mayor Bob Walkup and other dignitaries will dedicate the monument at 10 a.m. Oct. 25 with many members of the family as well as former store employees and customers from the “good old days.”
Tucson’s Jácome dynasty was begun by Carlos and his wife, Dionisia, both of whom were born in Ures, Son., and moved to the Old Pueblo in the 1870s. They opened a downtown dry goods store, La Bonanza, in 1896 on Congress Street in partnership with another well-known Tucson figure, Emilio Carrillo, along with Carrillo’s son, Loreto.
By 1928, the Carrillos had left the partnership, and the Jácomes incorporated the store in their own name with their 13 children, moving the store to the northeast corner of East Congress Street and Scott Avenue.
The final move was to larger quarters at North Stone Avenue and Pennington Street in 1951, where Jácome’s Department Store would remain a major player downtown until 1980.
Henry Jácome, one of the family’s many descendants, said, “We have over 100 relatives from all parts of the country flying in for the unveiling. And we’ve located about 30 of the 140 employees we had over the years and asked them to come, too.”
Eventually, all of Carlos and Dionisia’s 13 children would be involved in the family business, as would many of their grandchildren.
Tina Jácome, another local descendant, said, “The unveiling is open to the public, and afterward we’ll have a luncheon at the Manning House to get the old-timers together and stroll down memory lane.”
During its heyday, Jácome’s was popular not only with local shoppers but with those from Sonora and other areas of Mexico as well. Said Henry, “Many of the families who shopped here were prominent in Mexico, some of them descendants of past presidents, like the Calles and the Obregons.”
Henry and Tina recalled the Christmas seasons when downtown Tucson was the vibrant core of the city. Tina said, “It was a beautiful place to come, with the streets decorated with wreaths and lights and all the shop windows decorated.”
The Plaza is just south of the Main Library, 101 N. Stone Ave. The marker will include details from the family history and from the store itself, including reproductions of murals by Mexican artist Salvador Corona that graced the walls of the Stone Avenue store.
The plaza and marker were funded through the city’s Back to Basics program, which issues grants to neighborhoods. Plans call for trees to provide shade, and probably some benches, in keeping with the city’s Rio Nuevo project, which aims to make the downtown area more people-friendly and inviting.
Henry Jácome said family members are coming from as far away as Washington, California, Kansas, Oregon and Washington, D.C. A family reunion – the first in a decade – is planned in conjunction with the plaza dedication. For more information, call Tina Jácome at 529-8606.
Former employees who haven’t been contacted are asked to call her at that number.
Contact Paul L. Allen by e-mail at email@example.com.
If you go
• What: Jácome memorial dedication, luncheon
• Where: Dedication, Stone and Pennington; luncheon at Manning House, 450 W. Paseo Redondo
• When: Oct. 25. Dedication, 10 a.m. Manning House gathering starts at 11:30 a.m., with buffet lunch at noon.
• How much: Dedication, free; lunch $20 per person with reservations made before Oct. 20, $35 per person thereafter.
• Call: 770-0714.