Old Lehi School reopens as museum in Mesa

MESA, Ariz. (FOX 10) - This was then -- the Old Lehi School in Mesa. The photo was taken in roughly 1916, two years after the school was built.

This is now...

"This is historic to Mesa, this land is the beginning of the modern City of Mesa," Leon Natker said.

Natker is the executive director of the Mesa Historical Society, which owns the school. He took over the position last October and immediately knew he had to transform it from an office building and storage unit to what it is today -- a piece of history.

"The site that we are on right at the corner of Horne and Lehi, this is where the first tent cities were when the settlers came in 1877," he said.

Inside the old schoolhouse Natker, his employees and volunteers built an exhibit, a timeline of just how innovative, creative and progressive the founders of Mesa were.

"It had enormous success and the people for a rural community embraced all these gizmos and gadgets, this modernity if you will, and kept using it and expanding and expanding until in 1957," Natker said. "That's when the economy flips over from an agricultural-based economy into a goods and services economy that set the stage for the suburban expansion in the '60s and what Mesa is today."

A look back is also a look ahead. Natker is excited to feature artifacts that can continue to teach and transform Mesa.

Mesa Historical Museum