In 1887, Mormon leader Brigham Young sent out the Lehi Company to settle the Salt River Valley. A year later, another group of Mormon settlers arrived under the banner of the Mesa Company and camped approximately five miles away from the Lehi settlement. Just a few months later, the settlers filed for possession of the land now known as Mesa’s Town Center. In 1880, a third group of Mormon settlers established a community approximately one mile away from the town, near what is now Alma School Road.
When constructing the town that would eventually grow to become the city of Mesa, the settlers made sure to follow the layout that Joseph Smith had initially envisioned for his City of Zion. Because of persecution driving the Mormons to the frontier, many western towns and cities share this layout, most notably Salt Lake City. Smith's design called for streets 132 feet wide on a one square mile grid. Each block contained eight rectangular lots one and one-quarter acre in size. Though Smith's plan called for three public squares, only two were included in the plat of Mesa. The organizational structure of the Mormon Church dictates the formation of membership units known as wards and stakes. A ward is the local congregational unit in the LDS church, with membership in each one ranging between 300 and 600 people. Members of each ward live within prescribed geographic boundaries. Alma Ward was the ward associated with the third community of pioneers.
As the Alma Ward membership grew, the community made plans to construct the Alma Ward meeting house, which was built in 1908. Eventually, the Mormon church outgrew the building and the meeting house changed hands numerous times over the decades. In 1962, it served as the very first campus of Mesa Community College, tying the building to Mesa’s educational history as well as its religious history. Today, the Alma Ward Meeting House hosts wedding planning and reception business.