El Tovar Hotel – life on the rim

Posted January 22, 2014 at 12:00 am

By MICHAEL BUSHNELL
Northeast News
January 22, 2014

El Tovar Hotel.jpg

“The El Tovar Hotel, On the rim, Grand Canyon Arizona. A familiar scene along the walk from the Lookout Studio or the Bright Angel Lodge. The El Tovar looms up on the edge of a sheer precipice from which one may look down a mile to the bottom of its dizzy depth. The rim in the distance is 14 miles away.”

Such is the description on the back of this linen era postcard published by the Lollesgard Specialty Company of Tuscon and Phoenix, Ariz. The El Tovar, seen in the upper right of this postcard, was built in 1904 and opened in January, 1905, prior to the Grand Canyon being named a National Landmark on federally protected lands.

Constructed of Oregon pine and locally quarried limestone, the design was carried out by noted Topeka, Kan., Architect Charles Whittlesey, working under contract to the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. The lower portions of the building are mainly log construction, yielding to lap-board siding on the upper levels. As far as architectural styling is concerned, the El Tovar is eclectic in nature where strong elements of the Arts and Crafts movement are melded with the styling of a Swiss Chalet.

The hotel is one of a handful of Harvey Houses still in operation today and was the benchmark for a design style picked up in other National Park destinations such as Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. The El Tovar was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and designated a National Landmark in 1987.