Monday, July 6, 2015

La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona

By Kristy McCaffrey

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.

La Posada Hotel ~ Winslow, Arizona

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

Mary Jane Colter
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.

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.

Added to the list of visitors - me!


Ginger Jones Simpson said...

Great post. Totally enjoyed learning more about history. Your picture is so cute.

Kristy McCaffrey said...

Thanks Ginger!! Have an awesome day. :-)

Zina Abbott said...

Excellent post. I enjoyed learning more about this hotel. I tell you, as viewed from I-40, Winslow does not impress me. However, the more I learn the history of the region, the more I think I need to get off the highway and take a look around.

Robyn Echols w/a Zina Abbott

Kristy McCaffrey said...

That's true of many places but especially in Arizona. It appears desolate and uninteresting half the time, but knowing a little history can really make it come alive.

Shanna Hatfield said...

Great post, Kristy - and fun photo of you. I leave reading about old hotels and especially Harvey Houses!

Kristy McCaffrey said...

It sure was fun walking through it. We only came for dinner. I've already told the hubster we're returning for an overnight, if only to have more time in their fabulous gift shop!! Thanks for stopping by.