In a marriage made in heaven, Tom Maxwell, owner for nearly one year of the Hotel Pattee, bought La Poste LLC Thursday, bringing under unified control downtown Perry’s leading hospitality venues.
An ebullient Maxwell was eager to share the good news, which comes on the one-year anniversary of his first coming to Perry to see the hotel.
“We’re merging two iconic venues in Perry to provide excellent service to any guests who come to either location,” he said. “That’s the goal of this association. In this year, I’ve seen so much positivity and growth within Perry and the momentum of Perry and, obviously, when you look at Perry, you see the Hotel Pattee, but you also see La Poste and so many other things as well. I feel blessed to be involved with both the hotel and La Poste.”
Maxwell said the goal is to continue building both venues and helping Perry grow from strength to strength.
“That’s what we’re trying to do here, continue to build,” he said. “What we want to do is continue to bring more people into Perry, which is going to benefit all the restaurants and businesses in town. If you’re a bride and groom looking for a location and you come to either venue, they’re both gorgeous, and the service you’re going to get and the experience you’re going to get is just outstanding. The way we see it, you now have access to both.”
Leading lady of La Poste Jenny Eklund, whose ceaseless sweat equity was crucial to the building’s monumental restoration and the venue’s ongoing success, said she and her partners — Mary Rose Nichols and Colleen Eckhoff — proposed the buyout to Maxwell, and he saw the logic in it.
“Colleen, Mary and I felt very positive about working with Tom and approached him about acquiring La Poste,” Eklund said. “We have put our hearts and souls into La Poste and know it will continue to get stronger with our association with the Hotel Pattee.”
Like the Hotel Pattee, the La Poste building was originally built in 1913 and operated as Perry’s U.S. Post Office until the 1960s, when it was purchased by the Perry Community School District and served as administrative offices and classrooms.
By 2012 the old building, a beautiful example of Beaux-Arts classicism, was vacant, dilapidated and dearly in need of repurposing. That was when the original ladies of La Poste — Nichols, Ecklund and Perry native Ann Connors — stepped up, bought the old building for $1 and began the laborious process of restoring the building to its original appearance.
Connors, who lives in Iowa City, withdrew from the project in 2015 after contributing greatly to its initial success. Colleen Eckhoff of Perry soon restored the ladies of La Poste’s triumvirate, and the group has built a venue for weddings, workshops, receptions and the showcase Perry event, Art on the Prairie.
By 2016 the building was used for more than 120 events, drawing out-of-town visitors to Perry and making La Poste an economic engine and a place of profit for the ladies of La Poste.
Connors is still a booster for Perry’s economic development and was pleased to hear La Poste has attracted a new owner with big ideas.
“The old post office was an important building to save in the community of Perry,” she said. “The city and the community allowed us the opportunity to envision and repurpose this grand old federal structure into an event space for all to enjoy. I hope the hotel will have much success with this fantastic acquisition.”
La Poste and the Hotel Pattee plan to work closely together in supporting events at both venues, and the recent addition of Harvey’s at the Hotel Pattee also brings a preferred catering partner to the mix, according to Hotel Pattee Event Coordinator Hawn Wong.
“Some clients will even use both venues in an attempt to create the perfect event,” Wong said. “Working closely with the ladies of La Poste is very exciting. Combining our locations and our staffs, we can offer so much to our mutual clients.”