The origin of the city of Mesa relates directly to the expansion of Mormon settlement out of Utah and into the surrounding territories. In 1887, the first group of Mormon settlers arrived in the Salt River Valley, dispatched by Brigham Young. Over the next three years, two other groups of Mormon settlers joined the original company and began to establish what is now known as the city of Mesa.
Just a few years later, Mesa was undergoing a major tourism boom, as flocks of tourist struck out westwards throughout the 1890’s. To accommodate these newcomers, a new crop of buildings began to sprout up, including the building that would eventually become the Alhambra hotel. Due to a fire that all but consumed the building in 1921, the Alhambra was slated to become one of the first of these new Mesa hotels to be converted into a bona fide modern hotel, complete with steam heating and indoor facilities. However, due to difficulties securing the necessary funds, owner O.C McElrath was unable to perform the renovations and instead sold the Alhambra to H.H. Hall, who had every intention of reopening the hotel. Ironically, Hall’s home caught fire just a few days later, forcing him to give up his interest in the hotel.
The Alhambra fell into disrepair over the next several decades, drifting from owner to owner and even having it’s name changed to the Pioneer Hotel in 1951. However, in 2015, the building was purchased by Lorenzo Perez in 2015 on behalf of Benedictine University, who intended to renovate the site. Today, Benedictine University uses the renovated Alhambra as student housing for students in the Mesa area.