By Garin Groff for East Valley Tribune
The Mesa Historical Museum debuted in a new location, 51 E. Main Str. about a week ago, with three exhibits featuring items that have never been seen by the public. Aside from baseball and Western art, the museum displays a Boeing Company exhibit with a piece of the Spruce Goose.
The Boeing collection showcases a delicate rib from the Spruce Goose, which made just one famous flight with Hughes at the controls. Other items include medals or one-of-a-kind keepsakes Boeing received after selling aircraft to nations such as the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia.
The exhibit tells the story of why the aerospace giant came to Mesa in 1982. It manufactures the Apache attack helicopter from a campus inspired by Hughes, but built after his death.
The Cactus League exhibit is one of many to appear across the Valley since the museum began the concept four years ago with 100 items. More than 4,000 items have been amassed, including items Sliger donated upon her death. Sliger and her husband, Ted, founded the Buckhorn in 1939 and for decades hosted teams for spring training.
The Sligers kept every registry until the hotel closed in 1999. The logs reveal that before John F. Kennedy was president, he spent several months at the Buckhorn in World War II while recovering from a PT boat collision.
The Western art and Boeing exhibits will be on display through February. Then, the museum will expand its Cactus League exhibit at the city-owned building at 51 E. Main St.
The museum will likely stay in that space until a permanent location is built at the former Federal Building in downtown. That building’s renovation is part of a $70 million bond election in November, along with funds for Mesa to purchase the Buckhorn Baths.
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