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Friday, August 09, 2013

MARY ELIZABETH JANE COLTER, VISIONARY ARCHITECT

On Tuesday, August 13 at 6:30 p.m., the National Archives at Kansas City will host Tom Taylor for a lecture titled, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter: Visionary Architect of the Southwest. A 6:00 p.m. reception will precede the lecture.

Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter was an American architect and designer hired in 1901 by the Fred Harvey Company to decorate the Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A few years later, Colter began working full-time for the company, moving from interior designer to architect. For the next thirty years, working as one of few female architects and in rugged conditions, Colter completed 21 projects for the Fred Harvey Company. She is most well known for creating a series of landmark hotels and commercial lodges through the Southwest, including La Posada in Winslow, Arizona, and the Phantom Ranch buildings at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. She also created the five structures on the south rim of the Grand Canyon:Hopi House, Hermit's Rest, the observatory Lookout Studio, the 70-foot Desert View Watchtower with its hidden steel structure, and Bright Angel Lodge. Her works have been listed as National Historic Landmarks, and she is credited with inspiring the Pueblo Deco style. Taylor will discuss the architectural impact and design style created by Colter for the Fred Harvey Company.

To make a reservation for this free event email kansascity.educate@nara.gov or call 816-268-8010.

About the Fred Harvey: The Man, the Brand, and the American West Exhibit:

Fred Harvey was a visionary businessman who changed the nature of railroad meal stops in the 1870s. His string of eating establishments, called Harvey Houses, followed the route of the Santa Fe Railroad. Prior to Fred Harvey, there were no fast-food restaurants or chain hotels guaranteeing a quality travel experience in the American West. He espoused the principles of excellent food, impeccable service, reasonable prices, and standardized service in all his restaurants.

Fred Harvey’s hospitality empire eventually spanned from Ohio to California. Dotted with everything from eating houses and grand resort hotels to curio shops and specialty tourist activities, Fred Harvey created a standard of excellence in hospitality that the traveling public grew to appreciate and expect. So much that Fred Harvey inspired poems and books about his famous hospitality, and even a Hollywood movie featuring the Harvey Girls.

Fred Harvey: The Man, the Brand, and the American West is available for viewing, Tuesday-Saturday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. through January 4, 2014. To schedule a group tour call 816-268-8013 or email mickey.ebert@nara.gov.

About the Speaker:

Tom Taylor recently retired as director of Community Relations and the Visitors Center at Unity Village. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School. He is the author of a pictorial history of Unity Village (in the Arcadia Images of America book series), and is one of the community authors of Elmwood Cemetery published by The Kansas City Star and Star Books. He lives in Westwood, Kansas. Tom has a strong interest in history and architecture. He is active in several local history groups, giving tours and presentations. He is a board member of the Wornall/Majors Historic House Museums and is an avid collector of old postcards and railroad dining car china.

The National Archives at Kansas City is one of 15 facilities nationwide where the public has access to Federal archival records. It is home to historical records dating from the 1820s to the 1990s created or received by Federal agencies in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. For more information, call 816-268-8000 or visit www.archives.gov/kansas-city/.

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