La Posada is located at 303 E. Second Street in Winslow. For more information, call 928-289-4366 or visit laposada.org.
© Nick Berezenko
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Mary Jane's MasterpieceWhen Mary Jane Colter's La Posada opened in 1930, it was a manor in the middle of nowhere. Today, it's a stunning tribute to romance, history and the Harvey Girls.
By Bruce Itule
Winslow Coffee's on at 6 a.m. at La Posada in Winslow, the Spanish hacienda/hotel created by Southwestern architect Mary Jane Colter, who a century ago designed buildings along the Santa Fe Railway for the Fred Harvey Co.
Often called Colter's masterpiece, La Posada was in full bloom from its opening in 1930 to the '50s, when Route 66 on its north side and the Santa Fe Railway on its south brought travelers to Winslow.
On this morning, only a few overnighters have been lured by the coffee's aroma. Outside, birds have started their concert. South of the hotel, Interstate 40 — which morphed Winslow from gettin' your kicks to out in the sticks — is beginning to hum.
Slowly, people walk out of La Posada's main entrance, which faces the railroad tracks. A New Yorker in a yellow T-shirt with "I sunk your battleship" silk-screened onto it greets a groundskeeper and says, "I like to see the trains."
He and the others are not disappointed. Just before 6:30 a.m., a freighting monster ushered by an orange and yellow BNSF locomotive arrives. Next up is the eastbound Amtrak Superliner, which is on its way to Chicago but rests in front of La Posada long enough for two passengers to get off and eight to get on.
Trains no longer linger in Winslow, but plenty of the giants rumble past La Posada and delight railroad watchers. The westbound Amtrak will stop this evening.
When there's a lull, it's easy to sit back in one of the grand public spaces and recall The Harvey Girls, the 1946 movie starring Judy Garland as Susan Bradley, who on a train trip west meets and then joins a crew of young women headed for jobs at a remote stop to provide good cooking for railway travelers.
La Posada was once a romantic Spanish manor with 70 guestrooms, but it never prospered and eventually closed to the public in 1957. In the 1960s, the building was gutted and served as Santa Fe Railway offices for three decades.
Allan Affeldt and his artist wife, Tina Mion, whose bold work is displayed throughout the hotel, purchased the 20-acre property in 1997, and with a competent staff are slowly bringing it back to life.
Thirty-seven rooms have been restored and more will be finished soon. Rates range from $99 for a standard to $149 for a suite. Hacienda furnishings are scattered throughout, and the guestrooms are named for celebrities who once stayed here.
The Turquoise Room restaurant, adjoining the hotel, still offers terrific food for travelers, but it's served by men and women. Like passenger trains, the Harvey Girls have moved on.