Our world-class exhibits are curated with history in mind. Our collections contain historic artifacts, textiles, and religious art pieces, that add to the 2000-year story of the American Southwest. Each of the five buildings and the multiple exhibits in them will engage your curiosity.
The Visitor Center is located in the historic teachers' quarters for the 1885 Old Schoolhouse. It contains an orientation movie, introductory exhibits, and a first-class gift shop and bookstore. It also serves as the Arizona Center of Tourism for the Village of Tubac.
The Griffin Museum houses interpretive exhibits with original artifacts that reveal the many layers of Tubac’s rich, 2,000 years of history.
The Griffin Museum is named in honor of the donors who helped create the Tubac Presidio, Arizona's first state park, in 1959 and who also donated the land to build the museum.
The Museum includes Native/Pre-European, Spanish, Mexican, Territorial and American periods. Other exhibits feature Southern Arizona's most famous duel and an interactive selfie station where families can dress-up as Tubaquenos, or, Spanish soldiers.
The museum contains the cherished original Washington Printing Press, brought from Ohio, down the Mississippi River and overland from Corpus Christi, Texas in 1859. Arizona’s first newspaper, The Weekly Arizonian, was printed on this press in 1859.
In addition to the regular exhibit gallery, the museum features a changing gallery of important regional history and incredible art exhibits from both local and international artists.
The Otero Family, who received the first Spanish land grant in present-day Arizona in 1797, built this building as a community center in 1914. They used the foundation from a previous building which the Spanish had built in the late 1700s.
Tubac can also claim to be the home of the first school since Otero Hall served as a schoolhouse even before the 1885 schoolhouse was constructed.
Otero Hall, on the National Register of Historic Places, houses a restored 1850s wagon called an “ambulance.” It was used for travel. A leather thoroughbrace suspension allows the body to move freely providing a more comfortable ride. Buffalo Bill had one to go to his shows. An old print showed one modified to carry stretchers, which is probably the origin of the modern use of the word “Ambulance.” It is the only such vehicle on public display.
Otero Hall also features a rotating art exhibition in the Shaw D. Kinsley Gallery. The current exhibition titled The Cavalcade of History is a collection of sixteen paintings by renowned Western artist William Ahrendt. They were donated to The Tubac Historical Society by an anonymous donor. The Cavalcade of History was featured as a special 16-part series in the Arizona Highways magazine and is on loan from The Tubac Historical Society.
The Rojas house built in the 1880s, is a classic Sonoran “row house,” a single-story home built close to the road allotting private space to the interior and rear rather than near the front of the structure.
The house sits on the early Tubac to Tumacácori road which is the road Juan Bautista de Anza, and his expedition, used when leaving Tubac to found modern-day San Francisco.
The Rojas house, on the National Register of Historic Places, is decorated with the furnishings of Luisa Rojas, a lifelong resident of Tubac. She was born in this home in 1893. Her family occupied the home for over 100 years.
The original adobe structure, now sporting stucco, was lived in by Luisa until the early 1980s and retains many of her belongings. This home gives visitors the perfect opportunity to step back in time.
The 1885 Territorial Schoolhouse
The schoolhouse, on the National Register of Historic Places, is the second oldest schoolhouse in Arizona. With original floors and walls, you can sit at the desks and imagine yourself learning math in a one-room school. Take the 1895 eight grade final exam to see if you can pass!
The Washington Press
In 1858 John and William Wrightson, of the Santa Rita Mining and Exploring Company, purchased the Washington Press in Cincinnati, Ohio, and had it shipped down the Ohio River to New Orleans. The press was then shipped on a packet boat to Indianola, Texas, and then brought overland to Tubac by mule train.
On March 3, 1859 in Tubac editor, Edward E. Cross, issued Volume I, number 1 of The Weekly Arizonian, the first newspaper printed in what is now Arizona. It was then part of the New Mexico Territory. It consisted of four pages of news and advertising.
The Park still prints this exact newsletter on the Washington Press and sells them in the gift shop This press is one of the most spectacular artifacts in the Tubac Presidio museum. It is an extraordinary rarity to have the original press operating on the original site where the state's first newspaper was printed!
Demonstrations of the press in use occur periodically throughout the season.
Stairway to the Past
This stairway to the underground exhibits demonstrates the real layers of Tubac history. Signs explain the archaeological excavation done in 1974. The excavation revealed the multiple structures and cultures that have occupied the space. Numerous artifacts are on display.
Living History Patio
Visit the heritage gardens where historic crops are grown and used at the Park. Push the arrastra, the mining ore crusher and grindstone.
During the winter season experience demonstrations of the printing press, chocolate making, blacksmithing, woodworking, and other skills.
When visiting the Park, guests will be awed by eight gorgeous gardens. These gardens are entirely maintained by volunteers!