Why This Place Matters– Preserving the Old Vail Post Office
The only remaining pre-statehood building on Vail’s original town site is the Old Vail Post Office. The town site is bordered on the north and south by railroad tracks. It is book-ended on the east by the beautiful Shrine of St. Rita in the Desert and to the west by the humble adobe Old Vail Post Office. Only a wagon road and Native American path passed through before the railroad built a siding in 1880 for trains to pass on the last piece of flat land before the rails entered Cienega Creek. The Shrine and adobe are the two icons that define Vail, the “Town between the Tracks.”
My extended family has ties to Vail dating to 1938. As an Army family for 20 years, we moved 19 times in 20 years. Wanting my family to feel connected, we quickly looked for the roots of a community. We looked for the authentic, defining elements– the “real.” We wanted to know where we were. Not just be part of a national template.
A Tucson native, I remember the Barrio where the Tucson Convention Center sits– a vibrant place-folks sitting on front steps, kids playing in the streets. The simple adobe homes reflected people who were the everyday life blood of their community. Their simple beauty was not recognized until they were a memory. We are determined to not let this happen in Vail.
The adobe Old Vail Post Office is a reflection of the hard working railroad workers, wranglers, ranchers, teamsters and miners who made a life here. The adobe and the Shrine are the heart of Vail. I can only guess what Otto and Evie Schley who built the adobe would think of efforts to save the building they built. I do know what Otto said only one day after his wooden Vail Store and Post Office burned in 1908, “I will rebuild, and this time it will be of brick.” What a great, optimistic attitude and legacy for our rapidly growing greater Vail community.
Vail is 132 years old. The Vail town site has two icons that tell our stories, the Old Vail Post Office and the Shrine. Gone is forever. We need both of them as we move confidently into the future. The adobe Old Vail Post Office is a Place That Matters-together we can ensure it will be here to tell the stories of our early community for the next generation.
Donations may be made at any Pyramid Credit Union to the Vail Preservation Society to “Raise the Roof.”
Become part of creating community connections through local history-join the Vail Preservation Society-email Vailpreservationsociety@gmail.com to learn how.