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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona

By Kristy McCaffrey

Mary Jane Colter
Long before Flagstaff and Sedona became popular vacation towns in Arizona, everyone visited Winslow and the La Posada Hotel for special occasions. Built in 1929 by the Santa Fe Railway, it was the work of esteemed architect Mary Jane Colter, known for the design of many structures at the Grand Canyon. La Posada, however, was her masterpiece and favorite project.

La Posada is one of the last of a series of hotel-depot complexes built across the Southwestern United States in a collaboration between Fred Harvey and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Designed for a railroad traveling public, the original front door faced the tracks to the south. It was thought that most guests would arrive by train and stay for several days, so day tours to the Petrified Forest and Indian sites were made available. For a fee you could get a driver, a guide, a picnic, and a custom Packard or Cadillac touring car.

Colter chose two patron saints for La Posada—San Pasqual, Patron Saint of Feasts, and San Ysidro, Patron of Farmers.

La Posada was officially a Harvey House. Usually, Harvey Girls had a distinct uniform—black dresses with white aprons. But Mary Jane Colter felt the uniform was too severe for La Posada so she substituted colorful aprons with green, blue, or red backgrounds, quilted cacti, donkeys, and snoozing, big-hatted ranch hands. La Posada was the only Harvey Hotel allowed a non-standard uniform.

The kitchens of La Posada were the finest in the Four Corners region. It wasn’t unusual in the 1930’s and 1940’s for hotel to serve 1000 meals a day. In addition to the main kitchen, there was a full bakery and butcher shop, store rooms and freezers, china and linen rooms, and a lead-lined walk-in humidor for cigars. They even refrigerated the kitchen trash to keep it from smelling.

Most halls ran north-south to capture prevailing winds, and guest doors were louvered to create convection currents. A wind tower exists to capture warm air as it blows in from the southwest across watered lawns, where it’s cooled, humidified, and pushed through public spaces in the hotel. Colter filled La Posada with such passive solar details to keep the hotel comfortable during Arizona’s hot summers.
La Posada today.
Famous people who’ve visited include Howard Hughes (Winslow was a TWA stop and he owned the airline), and Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow, who resided during part of their honeymoon. They also stayed while Lindbergh designed Winslow’s airfield (the world’s only surviving Lindbergh-designed airport). Other famous guests: Albert Einstein, Will Rogers and Diane Keaton.

Fun fact: Down the street from La Posada is a small
monument to the Eagles' song "Take It Easy."
...Standin' on the corner in Winslow, Arizona...

******



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10 comments:

  1. Love this post! I've been interested in the hotels that have been built in conjunction with the railroads (On my wish list is to stay in every one of them). I'd give anything to see a picture of the aprons the Harvey girls wore. Anyway, thanks for making me twitchy to travel this morning, Kristy!

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    1. Patti,
      I think a roadtrip is calling your name. :-)

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  2. Kristy,
    I'll be in Phoenix at the end of September, and my route from here to there takes me right past Winslow. Thanks to your article, I plan to stop in Winslow and visit the hotel. �� The Harvey Houses are so interesting to read about.

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    1. Kaye,
      You'll love it. They have a great restaurant in the hotel. If you have any free time in September, give me a holler and maybe we can do lunch!!

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    2. Kristy,

      I counting on, and looking forward to, visiting with you. *Hugs*

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  3. One place i Arizona I haven't visited and no doubt should. I think if I'd been alive back then, I'd have yearned to be a Harvey girl and have some adventure out west.

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  4. What a history this place has. I'm sure it's only the tip of the ice burg, but what a tip. Thanks for reminding us of this amazing architect. Doris

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    1. When I visited, we only ate dinner in the restaurant. It would be fun to return and stay overnight. It's a very pretty hotel.

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  5. What a fantastic place to visit--and so many very famous people did. I am amazed Albert Einstein was even there. Loved the pictures! I especially liked the picture of you with the Eagles band member. What fun you must have had.
    A perfectly delightful blog, Kristy.

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