The Mesa Historical Museum opened an exhibit this past Saturday, August 19, about the famed Buckhorn Baths, a motel in east Mesa that sheltered Southwest bound travelers and fostered a baseball team that would later be crucial in forming the valley’s own spring training division.
The Buckhorn Baths motel opened in 1939 and kept its dozens of rooms, a museum-like taxidermy collection, and naturally occurring mineral spring baths, open for business until the motel’s closure in 1999.
The taxidermy collection was closed in 2004.
The Mesa Historical Museum’s exhibit features a range of items that show the motel’s story over its nearly 90 year history in Mesa.
Opening day for the exhibit was “very well received by the community”, said Susan Ricci, executive director of the Mesa Historical Museum.
The museum even welcomed attendees who were patrons of the Buckhorn Baths when it was still in operation.
The exhibit includes unique furniture created by artist Red Myrick, as well as original items taken from the motel rooms like scales and massage tables that were used by the traveling baseball teams that stayed at the motel.
The exhibit also includes the recently digitized home movies from Buckhorn Bath’s founders, Ted and Alice Sliger.
The Sliger’s formed a deep bond with the then New York Giants, and helped bring baseball to the desert, spawning what is now a spring training division known as the Cactus League.
“The Buckhorn Baths played such an integral role in hosting spring training for the then New York Giants. [Giant’s] owner Horace Stoneham felt Ted and Alice were like family,” said Ricci.
The Sliger’s were previously recognized by the Mesa Historical Museum for their role in bringing baseball to the state, inducting both Ted and Alice Sliger into the 2014 class of their “Cactus League Hall of Fame,” part of a permanent exhibit cataloging Arizona’s history of spring training baseball.
The Mesa Historical Museum acquired the collection in a split from the Arizona Natural History Museum, also located in Mesa. “It [the collection] was sent on to us as [we] are the only Stewards of Mesa history,” said Ricci.
Today, Buckhorn Baths sit empty and dormant, sold in 2021 to Ajay Verma, a medical professional.
The Mesa Historical Museum, located at 2345 North Horne Road in Mesa, will feature the Buckhorn Baths exhibit during the museum’s normal business hours, Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.