April 30, 2014 La Posada and Winslow

During our travels over the last few years, I was fascinated with what Fred Harvey did for the railroad and especially for his Harvey girls.  In doing some of my research, I had read about the La Posada Hotel and put that on my bucket list.  Well, today, we decided to tour and have lunch at the hotel.

First some information:

"Posada embodies the visions of both Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, the hotel’s renowned architect, and Allan Affeldt, its current owner. But the story really begins with Fred Harvey, who “civilized the west” by introducing linen, silverware, china, crystal, and impeccable service to railroad travel. (He was so legendary that MGM made a movie called The Harvey Girls starring Judy Garland.) Harvey developed and ran all the hotels and restaurants of the Santa Fe Railway, eventually controlling a hospitality empire that spanned the continent.

In the 1920s, Harvey decided to build a major hotel in the center of northern Arizona. “La Posada”—the Resting Place—was to be the finest in the Southwest. Construction costs alone exceeded $1 million in 1929. Total budget with grounds and furnishings was rumored at $2 million (about $40 million in today’s dollars). They chose Winslow, then (as now) the Arizona headquarters for the Santa Fe Railway. Winslow was ideally situated for a resort hotel since everything to see and do in northern Arizona is a comfortable day’s drive. They asked Colter to design the new hotel.

Colter worked for the Fred Harvey Company from 1905 until her retirement in the 1950s. Although famous for her magnificent buildings at the Grand Canyon, she considered La Posada her masterpiece. Here she was able to design or select everything from the structures to the landscape, furniture, maids’ costumes, and dinner china. Many people consider this the most important and most beautiful building in the Southwest.

La Posada opened May 15, 1930, just after the stock market crash of 1929, and remained open for just 27 years. In 1957, the hotel closed to the public. The museum-quality furnishings were auctioned off in 1959. In the early 1960s, much of the building was gutted and transformed into offices for the Santa Fe Railway. Several times over the ensuing 40 years, the building was nearly demolished, as recently as 1994 when the railway announced its plans to move out for good.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation found out about La Posada’s peril and added it to their endangered list — where it came to the attention of Allan Affeldt. But La Posada was never for sale. Allan Affeldt purchased it from the Santa Fe Railway after learning that the property was in danger. He visited the hotel in 1994 and decided to help local preservationists save it. This daunting task entailed negotiating for 3 years with the railroad and resolving various legal, environmental, and financial obstacles. He established La Posada LLC to take on the enormous risk and complexity of the estimated $12 million restoration. Allan and his wife Tina Mion moved in April 1, 1997. Daniel Lutzick became the third partner and General Manager.

Although none of the partners is a hotelier by training, they have accomplished what once seemed impossible—transforming a forgotten but magical place into a living museum.”

More information can be found here:


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The entrance:

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Everything was so elegant.  This is one of the sitting rooms.  On the right is a hallway with history of the hotel.  Notice the chess set on the table to the right.

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The TV room:

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The hallway from the first picture:

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One of the stairways to the rooms:

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The Turquoise Room where we had lunch:

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I was impressed when the waiter showed up as we sat and put the cloth napkins in our laps.  When Andy took the last sip of his soda, our waiter was right there with another glass.  WOW!  Our lunch was very good.

From there we continued our tour – this is another sitting room – library, fireplace, piano.  Another WOW!

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I took a quick picture of one of the rooms they were cleaning – how nice.  I can just imagine what it was like back in the thirties!

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The lobby and gift shop:

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From there we took a walk along the back of the hotel and watched the trains go by:

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The new owners story:

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What a wonderful visit!

From there we took a walk thru town – so many murals:

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And these cute signs all thru the town – reminiscent of traveling Route 66:

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The town has taken a six block area and is making a heritage area.  This is one of the exhibits:

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One of the original churches:

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We also found a nice surprise – one of Peter Toth’s Whispering Giants.

“Peter Wolf Toth arrived in Winslow in 1979, intent on adding one of his art works to the city’s landscape. When he left about four months later, he had turned a single ponderosa pine log into a 30-foot tall Indian head, and he left it there for posterity. The work was one in Toth’s series of giant heads that he carved in every state and four Canadian provinces. He called the effort “The Trail of the Whispering Giants,” and dedicated it to what he considered the mistreatment of Native Americans by early settlers and the federal government.”

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Another nice surprise was finding this 9-11 memorial with beams from the World Trade Center:

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Our last stop was the Winslow Elks Lodge where we met some great local folks and had a great time.

Another wonderful day!

We will continue our adventures tomorrow so stay tuned and enjoy today.


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