Mary Colter: Architect of the Southwest
by Arnold Berke
Since I always travel with books and knew we’d be staying at La Posada in Winslow, Arizona, I packed, Mary Colter: Architect of the Southwest, by Arnold Berke. After arriving; unpacking; and following the self-guided tour of the hotel, pausing to admire architecture, artwork, and gardens; I turned to my book to further my knowledge of this remarkable woman and her work on this “last great railroad hotel.” As architect for Fred Harvey, Colter brought La Posada to life in 1929, overseeing each detail. Closed for 40 years, current owners, Allan Affeldt and Tina Mion, “heard about the hotel and purchased it in 1997,” committing themselves to “returning La Posada to Colter’s original concept.” Because of them, one feels Colter’s spirit in this jewel of a hotel, along with gratitude for such a loving restoration. And, as if simply “being” at La Posada isn’t enough, bookcases fill the guest rooms and hallways, tempting all readers to “choose one” and then find the perfect spot, inside or out, to read away.
Opening day ceremonies on May 15, 1930, brought top brass from the Santa Fe and the Harvey Company to Winslow to participate in the official formalities. In a widely remembered story, two cowboys (or men dressed as such) decided to celebrate in their own way, riding right into the hotel on horseback, their mounts slipping on the slick flagstone floors. They picked up the diminutive Mary Colter, set her on the lobby counter, fired their guns a few times, and rode off, presumably not into the sunset. In June, Harvey Company photographers arrived in town to take stills and motion pictures of the hotel. The former were destined for newspapers and the latter for movie theaters, most of these in the East, which was still the nation’s population center and thus the mother lode of the Santa Fe/Harvey customer base. — from Mary Colter: Architect of the Southwest, by Arnold Berke
303 E. 2nd Street (Route 66)
Winslow, Arizona 86047