Mary Colter's Buildings at Grand Canyon

Mary Colter's Grand Canyon Buildings

 
Photo of Hopi House

Hopi House (1905)

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A photo of Hermits Rest

Hermits Rest (1914)

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Photo of Lookout Studio

Lookout Studio (1914)

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Photo of cabins at Phantom Ranch.

Phantom Ranch (1922)

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Photo of Desert View Watchtower.

Desert View Watchtower (1932)

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Photo of the front of Bright Angel Lodge

Bright Angel Lodge (1935)

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Full length photo of Mary Colter sitting in an elaborate wicker chair that wraps around her.
Architect Mary Colter at age 50
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.
 

 
Colter's Hopi House (1905) at Grand Canyon NP
Hopi House (1905)
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 - west-facing exposure
Hermits Rest (1914)

Hermits Rest (1914)
Several miles to west of 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 now a gift shop and small refreshment stand. The stone structure is tucked into a small man-made earthen mound, built around and on top of the building to blend the structure in with its setting. More...


 
The Lookout (1914)
The Lookout (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 Lodge (1922)
Phantom Ranch (1922)

Phantom Ranch (1922)
Completed in 1922, the rustic cabins and main lodge of Phantom Ranch are built of wood and native stone and do not intrude on the natural beauty of the setting. Overnight accomodations consist of dormitory spaces and cabins. Phantom Ranch is a comfortable oasis nestled at the bottom of the canyon, tucked in beside Bright Angel Creek on the north side of the Colorado River. It is the only lodging facility below the canyon rim. More...


 
Desert View Watchtower by Mary Colter
Desert View Watchtower (1932)
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
Bright Angel Lodge (1935)
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

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Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

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