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This Arizona post office was picked as one of the world's 11 most beautiful

Last month,  Architectural Digest published a list of the world’s 11 most beautiful post offices. The list included what one might expect — ornate buildings found in international cities like Algiers and Mexico City – but it also included a post office one might not expect. It's a building located in Winslow, Arizona.

At first glance, the beige building that sits rather stoutly on half a city block across from an empty lot and kitty-corner to a bank might not appear to be in the same league as the others. It isn’t Gothic Revival or Art Deco or modeled after a royal palace.

Katherine McLaughlin of Architectural Digest explained why the publication decided to look at post offices.

"I think post offices very often perform a very important function but they’re not always considered the most stunning buildings in the world and they’re not always given the same consideration as, you know, other government and civic buildings," said McLaughlin. "We were trying to find spaces that not only worked well and you know, sorted the packages and got the packages out the door and received them, but also were beautiful to be in when you're walking inside and doing what you have to do.”

Arthur Gonzales, Winslow’s postmaster, was thrilled when he heard about the buildings' recognition.

"I was tickled pink to hear about that. Who would’ve ever thought that Winslow, one of the most beautiful post offices in the world? That is just amazing. That is amazing and I’m so proud to be the postmaster here," said Gonzales.

But how did Winslow, a small town of 9,000 in northern Arizona, make the cut? McLaughlin explained what made this post office stand out.

“This building has a very strong sense of place so when you look at it almost anyone could guess the American Southwest," McLaughlin said. "And I think one of the reasons it kind of gives off this sense of place is because its in a very kind of adobe-inspired, pueblo-inspired style. Knowing where something is is a really special quality that doesn’t always get talked about. Lots of places, especially in the U.S., tend to look really familiar and you could look at any post office in a strip mall and maybe have no idea where it is. So, being able to see a building, and know where it is, is a very special quality and this post office does that really, really well.”

Gonzales began working in the building in 1992 as a “Christmas casual” worker and spent over 30 years working his way up the ranks. He talked about what made the building special to him.

“It’s very functional. It’s perfect actually for this town and we still would have room for growth even if we needed to in this building so somebody was thinking way ahead of their time when they put this post office together," said Gonzales. "Postmaster's office is, I feel, the most beautiful part of this building. The office itself has 12-foot ceilings in here with big windows that are original to the building. It’s just — it’s beautiful in here."

Construction for the Winslow post office began in 1935 under the supervision of architect Louis A. Simon, who spent his career designing federal and public buildings — even designing the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York.

The Winslow post office is located downtown, on old Route 66. Its original vestibule, brass nesting P.O. boxes, and oak lobby tables all remain — 88 years after opening — and the building sits just about 75 yards away from the Standing on the Corner Park, built as a nod to Winslow’s mention in the song, "Take It Easy" by the Eagles. The Mother Road and the rock lyrics bring in plenty of tourists.

“You’d be amazed at how many people come into our building from all over the world, and they’re awed when they walk into the lobby. So so proud of that. And my clerks and my carriers they were so so happy about it, and it’s really helped morale," Gonzales said.

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Sativa Peterson is a journalist, librarian and archivist.From 2017-2022 Peterson worked as the collection manager for the Arizona Newspaper Project and the Arizona Historical Digital Newspaper Project, special collections of the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records.Between 2017-2019 Peterson was the project director for a National Digital Newspaper Program grant awarded to the state of Arizona through a partnership between the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Peterson helped digitize over 100,000 pages of historic newspaper content for the Chronicling America and Arizona Memory Project websites.Her work has appeared in local and national publications such as New Times, BUST and Modern Loss and she has hosted the workshop, “Time Travel Through Historic Newspapers,” at Valley bookstore Changing Hands.Peterson’s short personal documentary, “The Slow Escape,” originally released in 1998, is now on the Criterion Channel.Peterson’s first job in high school was at KINO 1230 AM in her hometown, Winslow, Arizona. Peterson worked afternoon and evening shifts spinning county music in the high desert.