Junction Residents Trying To Save Presley Chapel
faded white-clapboard chapel at Apacheland Movie Ranch stirs
visions of movie- star cowboys, gunfights and dusty Western
the only battle it faces now is the one residents are fighting
to preserve this little piece of Hollywood tucked into the
Superstition Mountains. Apacheland was built east of Apache
Junction, near Gold Canyon, in 1960 to attract filmmakers.
A bearded Elvis Presley starred in the 1969 movie "Charro!,"
which was filmed at Apacheland.
set was used often in the TV show "Death Valley Days," which
featured Ronald Reagan and ran from 1962 to 1975. Two fires
and waning interest from Hollywood persuaded owners Ed and
Sue Birmingham to sell the property to residential developers
residents are trying to raise $30,000 to relocate the chapel,
which they call the Elvis Presley Memorial Chapel, and the
barn to the Superstition Mountain Museum nearby. The barn
and the chapel are the only two original buildings to survive
both the 1969 and the 2004 fires.
is what made Gold Canyon what it was," said resident Phil
Rauso Jr. "To let them go would be letting a piece of the
history of this area go."
museum has until May to get the buildings moved. Museum director
George Johnston said the barn has been taken apart and the
pieces moved to a field next to the museum, but organizers
still need to get the chapel moved. The expense, he said,
will come with putting the buildings back together on new
foundations with new plumbing and wiring.
need a lot of funds," he said. A few thousand dollars was
raised from a recent benefit and raffle tickets sold at the
museum. Gold Canyon resident Marta Saint-James said she contacted
the Elvis Foundation for financial assistance, but got no
years and years we've had weddings, funerals, everything at
that chapel," she said. "It's part of the community." Rauso
had archived quite a bit of the Apacheland memorabilia before
the second fire and hopes to turn the chapel into a small
museum. He has concrete footprints made by stars that used
the set, including Jerry Van Dyke, Denver Pyle and Warren
Oates. He also has movie props, scripts and photos.
stumbled upon the place and just fell in love with it," Rauso
said he hopes one day to make the chapel available for weddings
are always getting questions from people who want to get married
in there," Johnston said.
why we think it's important to preserve it if we can."
barn will be used for storage for the museum.
Source: Tucson Citizen 24/1/05/ElvisNews.com)