Mary Colter's Grand Canyon Buildings
Hopi House, Hermit's Rest, Lookout Studio and Desert View Watchtower are not only the best and least altered, but some of the only remaining works of the master architect and interior designer Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter. Located on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, these buildings highlight the ingenuity of Colter, chief architect and decorator for the Fred Harvey Company from 1902 to 1948.
More importantly, her creative free-form buildings at Grand Canyon took direct inspiration from the landscape and served as part of the basis of the developing artistic aesthetic for appropriate development in areas that became national parks.
The buildings are also significant as part of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway and Fred Harvey Company development on the South Rim of Grand Canyon -- their most important destination resort.
The Desert View Watchtower possesses additional regional significance in its tower paintings of American Indian designs that were copied from prehistoric pictographs and petroglyphs.
Colter was a perfectionist, who spent a lifetime advocating and defending her aesthetic vision in a largely male-dominated field.
Hopi House (1905)
is a large multi-story structure of stone masonry, shaped and built like a Hopi pueblo building. The building is rectangular in plan, and the multiple roofs are stepped at various levels giving the building the impression of pueblo architecture. The sandstone walls are reddish in color. Tiny windows, like those of true Hopi structures, allow only the smallest amount of light into the building. More...
Hermits Rest (1914)
Lookout Studio (1914)
Back along the canyon rim in the vicinity of Bright Angel Lodge is the Lookout Studio, a small structure where Colter allowed the surrounding landscape to guide her design. The native stone structure, originally known as "the Lookout," is built into the canyon rim and, in a sense, looks as if it grows out of it. The small structure is generally rectangular in plan and constructed of coursed rubble masonry. More...
Phantom Ranch (1922)
Desert View Watchtower (1932)
Modeled after ancient ancestral Puebloans watchtowers found in the Four Corners region, the Watchtower, at Desert View, is primarily a rest and interpretive area, with a small bookstore/gift shop operated by Grand Canyon Association.
The walls of the tower feature murals by Hopi artist Frank Kabotie and you can climb the stairs to the top for an outstanding view of Grand Canyon and the surrounding area. More...
Bright Angel Lodge (1935)
Bright Angel Lodge, designed in 1935, has a natural, rustic character, and is a Registered National Historic Landmark. The lodge has always been a popular place to stay and the center of South Rim activity. Located just a few feet from the canyon rim, Bright Angel Lodge is the check-in point for the world famous Grand Canyon Mule Rides. More...
Last updated: April 4, 2017