In my last post, I showed you partway around the Grand Canyon Village. We continued our journey to see more of the sights, so here’s a taste:
Lookout Studio – The Fred Harvey Company retained one of America’s first female architects, Mary Colter, to design a studio a short distance away from the Kolb Studio. Colter subscribed to the ideas held by famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, which held that designs should blend in with their natural surroundings, and not detract from the stunning natural beauty that exists. Colter designed Lookout Studio using local wood and stone, and was very successful in creating a structure that is very unobstrusive.
The studio was completed in 1914 and offered tourists a social space to enjoy a warm drink on a cold day, the opportunity to sit and converse or read a book, and the chance to view the canyon with telescopes and see what other tourists would experiencing with a mule ride into the canyon. The studio also contained a gift shop that sold postcards, paintings and other souvenirs; the fact that it competed with the Kolb Studio just down the path was a sore point with the Kolb brothers for years.
Hopi House – Another of the Fred Harvey Company’s businesses, Hopi House housed and employed several Hopi artisans to make and sell Native American crafts to the tourists visiting the Grand Canyon. Mary Colter designed the building to blend with nature, and to also follow the style of the traditional Hopi dwellings. It was completed in 1905, right before El Tovar Hotel was finished. Hopi tribal workers built the building, which served both as a store and display area where tourists could watch craft items being made, but also as a residential structure, with several Hopi artisan families living in the upper floors of the building.
Hopi House was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1987 and renovated in 1995, taking care to maintain the historic elements of the building.
Buckey O’Neill Cabin – Buckey O’Neill was a young man who arrived out west from Missouri in 1879. He tried his hand at numerous enterprises, including running a newspaper, serving as a lawyer, district court recorder, tax assessor, probate judge and superintendent of schools. He also spent some time living at the Grand Canyon and prospecting for copper, but soon realized that the venture would not be lucrative. He did realize the potential of the canyon as a tourist draw, and worked tirelessly to improve access to the Canyon. He was an integral part of getting the railroad there in 1901. Sadly he didn’t live long enough to see the fruits of his labor – he died in 1898 while serving in the Spanish American War.
The cabin that he built in the early 1890s is still standing – in the 1930s it was integrated into the Bright Angel Lodge complex of a lodge and cabins, designed by none other than – Mary Colter! Tourists can still stay in the Buckey O’Neill Cabin, which is the oldest of the historic structures in the Grand Canyon Village.
And as for Mary Colter? She enjoyed a long and successful career in design and architecture, working for several years for the Fred Harvey Company and designing many of the other buildings in the Grand Canyon. In addition to Lookout Studio, the Bright Angel Lodge and Hopi House, she also designed Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, Hermit’s Rest, and the Desert View Watchtower (I’ll be posting about this soon) and was responsible for decorating (but not designing) the El Tovar Hotel. And her work isn’t only visible at the Grand Canyon; she has buildings throughout the southwest, including Winslow, Arizona, Gallup, New Mexico and Los Angeles, California.
So what do you think? Which of the Grand Canyon Village’s historic structures is your favorite?