The effort to preserve the historic Buckhorn Baths should stay on track despite owner Alice Sliger’s death, according to those working on the plans.
A new preservation foundation was formed this year with the Buckhorn its top priority, said Vic Linoff, a longtime historic activist and Mesa resident.
“I think we made enough inroads in moving that forward that we’ll be able to work this through and fulfill Alice’s dreams of saving the Buckhorn for future generations,” Linoff said.
The Mesa Preservation Foundation formed after the March announcement by the Society for Commercial Archeology that it had decided the Buckhorn was the most endangered commercial roadside place in the U.S.
No specific preservation plan has emerged for the Buckhorn.
Sliger has had the property for sale since 1999, but she never liked any of the offers. She wanted the hot mineral springs to be used in whatever would be developed.
Sliger lived on the property until going to a nursing home about six months ago, said Robert Brinton, a Sliger friend and immediate past president of the Cactus League.
“I think she really couldn’t part with it,” Brinton said.
Ron Peters, a family friend who serves on the preservation board, said work will continue to save the property.
The Buckhorn was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, and in 2007 the Arizona Preservation Foundation included the property on the Arizona’s Most Endangered Historic Places list.
The baths were instrumental in Mesa getting its first spring training team, which was the beginning of the Cactus League. Some of baseball’s greatest players soothed their injuries in the baths during the Buckhorn’s heyday. Sliger amassed a large collection of photos and other memorabilia from running the Buckhorn since the 1930s.
The property is also important because it is the quintessential example of early roadside lodges, Linoff said. Alice’s husband Ted was a part-time taxidermist who amassed more than 400 preserved animals, which were on display on the site.
“There are so many aspects of what happens on that site that it just cries out for preservation,” Linoff said.