Category Archives: Seligman

Seligman’s Harvey House is history

[Source: Mark Boardman, True West] — In January, we wrote about ongoing efforts to save the historic Havasu Harvey House in Seligman, Arizona. Today, the circa 1905 building is gone, demolished by its owner, the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad. For years, the BNSF has wanted to tear down the empty hotel, which closed in the mid-1950s. Local group Friends of Havasu looked for ways to buy it. The railroad offered to donate it to anybody who would move it. Nothing came of the offer, and the Havasu came down in May 2008. The salvaged historic items were given to Seligman Historical Society. Our thanks to Dan Lutzick for the info and picture. Dan is project supervisor for the renovation of the El Garces Harvey Hotel in Needles, California. The $10-million effort includes a restaurant, visitors center, museum and hotel. He hopes to have it finished by the end of this year, just in time to celebrate the building’s 100th anniversary.

Bad news for Seligman’s historic Harvey hotel

[Source: Jeremy Thomas, Cronkite News Service] — Looking through a chain-link fence at the abandoned Havasu Hotel, once the economic and social center of this community, Angel Delgadillo found it hard to acknowledge that it won’t be here soon. “Progress,” he said, shaking his head. Residents who have fought for years to save the former Harvey hotel learned recently that Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway will tear it down. “We’re losing so much,” said Delgadillo, a lifelong Seligman resident who runs a gift shop. “All we have are the memories. It was the elite of hotels not just in Seligman, but in the entire state. It was a time of dignity. It was so special. These are the things you don’t forget.”

Lena Kent, a spokeswoman for the railroad, which owns the property, said demolition would begin this week. She declined to elaborate on what might replace the building. “It’s really sad that it wasn’t able to find a new home,” Kent said. “After a decade we had to make the decision to go forward.” The railroad was willing to let someone move some or all of the hotel to another site, but a deal didn’t materialize. Instead, some items from the hotel will be salvaged and donated to the Seligman Historical Society, Kent said.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. For details on the remaining Harvey Hotels in Arizona, click here. Photo source: Sonu Munshi, Cronkite News Service.]

Historic Seligman hotel will be demolished

[Source: Nathan Ryder, Channel 2 News] — Efforts to save an historic railroad hotel in northwestern Arizona have come the end of the line. The 100 year old Havasu Harvey House was built alongside the old Santa Fe Railroad mainline in Seligman. Many living in the tiny town of less than 1,000 people are upset they weren’t able to preserve this piece of history. The Havasu Harvey House was built by Fred Harvey around 1905, a glorious stopping point for tourists looking to enjoy the rough and tumble of the old west. During the golden age of railroads, passengers would stop at the Havasu Harvey House for a bite to eat and a place to sleep for the night. It was also called Prescott Junction because another rail line met up with the Santa Fe line and ran south into Prescott. Cattle and mail were often picked up in Seligman to be transported to points in the Midwest and east. During World War II, trains carrying soldiers to the west coast for trips overseas would stop at the Havasu Harvey House. Soldiers were allowed off the train to stretch their legs and grab a boxed lunch from the Harvey lunch counter.

That history will soon turn to nothing but memories when the building is demolished beginning next week. “The town was created around the building and that’s part of our heritage here,” said Frank Kocevar. He has lived in Seligman for the last 7 years and restored his early 1900’s home and historic Route-66 storefront. Kocevar was also working hard to try and preserve the historic hotel and move it around the corner to an empty lot he owns right on Route-66. “My proposal was to save at least part of it, something that would fit into the town. We weren’t asking for a handout. We went in with a business proposal that we thought would work for both parties.” The Havasu Harvey House now sits behind a chain link fence topped with barbed wire. Officials with BNSF say they had to fence off the historic building after years of vandalism and theft. Last used as an office for the railroad in the late 1980’s, thieves quickly moved in stealing the original woodwork and fixtures and even tore up walls to take electrical wiring and the building’s plumbing. Spokeswoman Lena Kent says teens would also use the building as a place to party.

Between the two different groups she says the building has been destroyed inside. Kent says BNSF has been working with community members in Seligman for the last 10 years on trying to find a way to save the hotel. She says they’ve agreed to delay demolition in the past but now they need to take action. “We’ve decided to move forward because we do feel that it’s a safety issue and that building needs to come down,” said Kent. She added that local fire officials have indicated they wouldn’t enter the building to fight a fire if it ever broke out because of the dangerous conditions. Standing in his historic shop complete with the original soda fountain, Frank Kocevar says there is one good thing that is coming out of this situation. He thinks more attention has been brought to the need to preserve pieces of our past. Kocevar hopes more people will stand up in their own communities and keep things original in the modern world. As demolition crews move in on Monday, he says it will be hard to watch but feels he tried to do everything he could to save a part of Arizona’s history. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Havasu Hotel

Built in 1913, the Havasu Hotel is one of three remaining Fred Harvey hotels built in Arizona along the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad (now the Burlington Northern Santa Fe). La Posada in Winslow and the Fray Marcos in Williams have been restored, but the Havasu, located in the unincorporated town of Seligman, has remained long abandoned. While locals would like to see the hotel restored to its former glory, they’ve been unable to raise the necessary funds. Now the owners have decided to demolish this rare remnant of an earlier transportation era.

[Photo source: Dan Lutzick, who is currently working to restore the El Garces Hotel in Needles, CA.]

December 2007 Update: