It’s the rare visitor to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park that fails to chance upon one of the iconic structures designed by maverick architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter. Over the span of three decades (1905-1935), the chain-smoking perfectionist completed twenty one projects for the Fred Harvey Company, a park concessioner that operated the hotels and restaurants in the day.
Four of her masterpieces (Hopi House, Lookout Studio, Hermit’s Rest, and Desert View Watchtower) were given National Historic Landmark status in 1987. Born in Pittsburgh, and raised in Minnesota, Colorado, and Texas, a plucky young Colter eventually trained at the California School of Design in San Francisco. Her unique architectural style drew from a number of influences, including both Spanish missions and Puebloan dwellings and fortresses.
In many cases structures seamlessly integrate with their surroundings. The book Mary Jane Colter: Builder Upon the Red Earth celebrates her achievements at Grand Canyon and beyond. This slideshow highlights a few of these in the park itself: