Mary Colter' Hermits Rest

A historic image of Hermits Rest on the left and a modern image of Hermits Rest on the right.

Hermit's Rest (1914), several miles to the west of Colter's Hopi House, is an entirely different type of structure. The building, originally constructed as a rest stop for the short stage line that ran from El Tovar to this location, is a stone building placed several feet back from the rim edge, and is tucked into a small man-made earthen mound, built around and atop the building to blend it in with its setting.

Hermit's Rest was designed to resemble a dwelling constructed by an untrained mountain man using the natural timber and boulders of the area. From the entrance path a haphazard looking structure of stone and wood greets the visitor, and the approach to Hermit's Rest is marked by a small stone arch set in a stone wall along the original pathway from the parking area to the building. The exposed portions of the building that are not banked into the earth are of rubble masonry bonded with cement mortar, structural logs, and a few expanses of glass. The chimneys are gently battered rubble masonry.

The stone arch is topped with a broken bell that Colter acquired from a Spanish mission in New Mexico. In recent years vandalism to the stone arch and bell necessitated moving the access path a few feet north, so that visitors no longer walk under the arch (and are tempted to try dunk shots through the hole in the bell). Stone lanterns with small pathway lights illuminate the area after dark.

A black and white photo of a building built into the earth.
Hermits Rest in 1936.

The exposed portions of the building that are not banked into the earth are of rubble masonry bonded with cement mortar, structural logs, and a few expanses of glass. The parapet of the flat roof is uneven, giving the building a rougher appearance. The chimneys are gently battered rubble masonry. The overall appearance of the stonework makes it look almost like a natural rock formation.

The porch that shelters the entrance and covers a small portion of the gift shop is made of peeled log posts, tie-beams, and vigas (roof beams). A low stone wall of rubble masonry separates this outdoor observation area from the drop-off into the canyon.

The interior of the building is divided into two large spaces and several utility areas. The main room and most impressive space is in the central part of the structure. On its north side the central room is covered by the flat roof of the porch. Further into the interior the roof height opens up dramatically to nearly two stories, and is again flat with a viga and latia ceiling. The upper wall sections in this area have large windows, letting considerable natural light into the structure. On the south end of the room is an enormous alcove, shaped like a semi-dome. The stone alcove contains an arched fireplace decorated with ornate andirons, a brass tea kettle, and various antique kitchen and fireplace tools. Wrought-iron wall sconces holding candles flank the far edges of the alcove. The alcove's flagstone floor is stepped up above that of the remainder of the room, giving added architectural emphasis to the space.

West of the main room is the snack bar area, office, and small storage area. These have all been updated to accommodate the present uses, although their original configuration remains. East of the main room is the area now used as the "rug room" where Navajo rugs are sold. The original stone fireplace remains in this area. A wood wainscotting has been added, covering the original finish. A small storage area is to the east of this room.

Hermit's Rest, like many of the other Colter buildings, contains antiques important to the structure's ambience. The furnishings included in this nomination are the rustic chairs, the chairs and tables that may be of German origin, the European pendulum clock, the bear traps, frontier items decorating the exterior post, and the other elements Colter added to create atmosphere.

A photo of Hermits Rest
Hermits Rest (1914)

Continue to Hermits Rest photo gallery on Flickr.

A stone arch with a bell on the top
Hermit's Rest History Continued

Learn more about Hermit's Rest on Arizona State University's Nature, Culture, and History at Grand Canyon website.

A black and white photo of a women sitting in a chair.
Mary Colter's Buildings

Mary Colter was the chief architect and decorator for the Fred Harvey Company from 1902 to 1948.

John Verkamp in front of his tent.

After the Santa Fe Railroad started bringing visitors to the canyon, entrepreneurs came to the canyon to make their fortune.

A cemetery gate.

Passing through or calling the canyon home, many people have influenced the development and protection of Grand Canyon.

Last updated: September 21, 2019

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