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El Tovar Hotel Lobby, South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

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This is a photo I took with available light inside the lobby of the historic El Tovar Hotel that is located just 20 feet from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We stayed there last May when we visited the Grand Canyon. It is a wonderful rustic hotel full of history.

 

INFORMATION ON THE EL TOVAR HOTEL:

 

The El Tovar Hotel, also known simply as El Tovar, is a former Harvey House situated just 20ft from the south rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA. The hotel was designed by Charles Whittlesey, Chief Architect for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway and opened in 1905 as one the chain of hotels and restaurants owned and operated by the Fred Harvey Company in conjunction with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (Santa Fe). It is at the northern terminus of the Grand Canyon Railway, which was formerly a branch of the Santa Fe. The hotel is one of only a handful of Harvey House facilities that are still in operation, and is an example of National Park Service Rustic architecture.

 

The building has multiple roofs at several different levels that add to its architectural interest, visual appeal, and spatial experience. At the uppermost level is the wood turret, wrapped in shingles and serving as the most important element of the identifiable silhouette of El Tovar. Directly below that is the hip roof with bracketed eaves that shelters the central portion of the building, including the lobby and mezzanine lounge. The three-story wings to the north and south that flank that central portion have mansard roofs pierced by dormers. On the north and south ends the roofs step down to two- and one-story terraces. The main entrance on the east side of the building has a gable roof with a hipped end covering the large entrance porch.

 

El Tovar's significance lies in its eclectic architecture--a combination of the Swiss chalet and Norway villa as the promotional brochures boasted--and the way in which that transitional architecture bridged the gap between the staid Victorian resort architecture of the late nineteenth century and the rustic architecture later deemed appropriate for the great scenic and natural wonders of the United States. Interlocked with that significance is the building's s importance as the Santa Fe Railway's key structure of its "destination resort" at Grand Canyon which dramatically increased tourism and in turn had an indirect bearing on the area's establishment as a national monument in 1908 and a national park 11 years later.

 

El Tovar opened its doors in January, 1905, as the luxury hotel at the Grand Canyon for the Santa Fe Railway. The building's style remained steeped in the late Victorian predeliction for the exotic with its roof turret and chalet-like balconies and terraces. Whittlesey's use of log-slab siding and log detailing on the first floor created that rustic frontier atmosphere that the railroad sought. The dark color of the building and the dark interiors contributed to the woodsy ambience. The dark exterior color gave added architectural importance to the building s silhouette--easily distinguishable by its turret and varied roof forms as the most important structure on the south rim by the way it was outlined in the sky.

 

Over the years El Tovar has housed such dignitaries as George Bernard Shaw, Ferdinand Foch, Gugliemo Marconi, Presidents William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt, and even Arthur Fiedler. Once described as "the most expensively constructed and appointed log house in America" the hotel has retained most of its original character.

 

The El Tovar has 78 rooms and suites, all with cable television, telephone, full bath and air conditioning. Standard rooms have one double, one queen, or two queen beds. Deluxe rooms have either two queens or one king bed. Suites have a bedroom with either two queens or one king bed, and a sitting room, and some of the suites have a porch or balcony.

 

(Sources: Wikipedia and the National Park Service)

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Taken on May 7, 2009