To be able to build structures for an unforgettable place like the Grand Canyon, you need someone with incredible resolve, creativity and chutzpah. After all, you are trying to measure up against one of the seven wonders of the world.
Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter -- a chain-smoking perfectionist -- was trained as a designer. At a time when few knew, much less hired women architects, she made a believer out of Fred Harvey.
Harvey was the Santa Fe Railroad dining and hotel magnate.
Colter had worked a little bit with Harvey in New Mexico, the Alvarado Hotel, did some interior design work. The Hopi House was the first building that the Fred Harvey company asked her to design and build.
Harvey saw in Colter a woman who loved telling stories through her work. She designed the Hopi House to look like a Hopi pueblo house. Colter used local stones and Native American builders and artists, creating what is known today as National Park Service Rustic.
She designed the buildings and supervised the placement of each brick. She was very demanding, tough and exact in what she wanted to see.
Colter wanted her buildings to blend-in with the Grand Canyon.
The South Rim's desert view watchtower looks like the Anasazi lookout it was meant to mimic. And Hermit's Rest is a stone building is tucked into a man-made earthen mound, blending in perfectly with its surroundings.
Many of Colter's works have been destroyed, replaced by nondescript, everyday buildings. But Colter's imagination lives on at the Grand Canyon, where her stone buildings look as old and as full of magic and mystery as the canyon itself.