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BULLEThistory archive

History Archive Photo
A steam engine is used to fight the fire at Winslow's original Harvey House in 1914.

© Old Trails Museum

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Smoke-Filled Rooms
One hundred years ago, the original Harvey House in Winslow went up in flames. Despite the tragic loss, something better took its place. It was named La Posada.

By Danielle Grobmeier

The late 1800s marked a period of rapid tourism growth in the Southwest, and thanks to entrepreneur Fred Harvey and his “3,000 miles of hospitality,” more than 80 Harvey Houses sprang up along the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway at its peak. While many still exist today, the buildings, built in the 19th and 20th centuries, were prone to fire, and many Harvey Houses were lost as a result.

Winslow’s original Harvey House, which opened in 1887, went up in flames in the spring of 1914. Faulty kitchen equipment was reportedly to blame, and flames quickly spread throughout the wood-framed building.

According to a May 2, 1914, article in The Winslow Mail, the fire gutted the upper level of the building, and “flames were shooting out of the roof before the fire department arrived.” The article speculated that the house’s dining room would be fully operational a few weeks after the blaze wreaked havoc at the property. That didn’t happen, but something better did.

Construction of a new Harvey House for Winslow resulted in La Posada, which opened its doors in 1930. Designed by famed architect Mary Jane Colter, La Posada was one of the last Harvey Houses to be built. Despite closing in 1957 and facing the threat of demolition, La Posada reopened as a hotel in 1997, and it operates as such today. Restoration efforts are ongoing.

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