12th Annual Harvey Weekend happening again, Nov 12-15, 2021

The annual gathering of “FredHeads” is happening again. After a completely virtual gathering last year, this year’s event will be both in person, as well as virtually.

November 12-13:

The event kicks of at the New Mexico History Museum with docent led tours of the exhibition Setting the Standard: The Fred Harvey Co. and its Legacy and a slate of talks available in person and online on Friday and Saturday:

Best-selling author John Sedgwick and his new book “From the River to the Sea”

Q&A with the fabulous Jean Harvey Vanderbilt

“Deep Inside the Alvarado” with architect and rail historian Matt Kluge

“Insider’s Guide to Southwest Collecting” panel on collecting everything

Fred Harvey popularized in America

“Fred Harvey, Reinvented 1948-1968” the company’s postwar years explored by Daggett Harvey, Jr.

An auction and dinner will be held on Saturday Evening at La Fonda.

Remembering Steve Wimmer: Sharing memories of the longtime La Fonda concierge and Original FredHead, with an update on the new SW History Research fund created in his memory.

The Steve Wimmer Historical Research Fund for the Fray Angelico Chavez History Library at the New Mexico History was established in 2021 following Mr. Wimmer’s decease. The Fund honors Steve’s memory and enthusiasm for New Mexico history & cultural tourism which he shared with others in his role as the La Fonda Hotel’s head concierge.

November 14-15:

For in-person attendees, there will be an optional Legal Tender breakfast in Lamy 11/13, and Castaneda dinner in Las Vegas 11/14 (reservation info coming soon.)

For more information on participating in person or online, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fred-harvey-history-weekend-2021-tickets-136867762161

Marking NM’s Historic Women: Harvey Girls & Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter

Harvey Girls and Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter (1869–1958)

(SIDE 1) In 1883, the Fred Harvey Company hired women to serve in its diners and hotels along the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Thousands of respectable, intelligent women were recruited from the Midwest and East Coast to come west. Known as Harvey Girls, many of these women stayed and became founding members of their adopted communities, forever changing the cultural landscape of the Wild West.

Mary Colter (r) showing blueprint to Mrs Ickes (wife of secretary of interior.) Circa 1935. NPS: https://www.nps.gov/articles/marycolter.htm

 (SIDE 2) In 1902, the Fred Harvey Company hired Mary Colter as interior designer of the Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque. She was an architect for the company when few women worked in the field. She designed many famous resorts and inns, including the hotel interiors of La Fonda in Santa Fe. In 1987, four of her buildings in Grand Canyon National Park were designated a National Historic Landmark.

We have several videos related to the Harvey Girls and Mary Colter in our Fred Harvey Company video playlist on YouTube.

Roadside Marker Location: Bernalillo County, Albuquerque, 1st St and Gold Ave

You can view a county by county list of the Historic Women Mile Markers in this pdf.

You can view a map of the Historic Women Mile Markers at www.nmhistoricwomen.org

March is Women’s History Month. During this month we’ll be highlighting some of the women featured on New Mexico’s Historic Women Roadside Markers. Text provided by our colleagues at New Mexico Historic Preservation Division

NMHM Fundraising Event: Castaneda Christmas Cooking Class

Saturday, December 19 at 11am-1pm

This Special Christmas Cooking Class held on Zoom will feature Sean Sinclair & Johnny Vee demonstrating how to make updated versions of classic Fred Harvey restaurant dishes.

Proceeds from this unique event will benefit NM History Museum Programming.

>>>>>> Follow this link for registration. <<<<<<

More information:

Join Chef/Proprietor Sean Sinclair live via zoom from the historic Castaneda Hotel in Las Vegas New Mexico as he shares some fantastic holiday recipes inspired by the famous Fred Harvey railroad hotel and restaurant empire–of which the recently restored hotel was the very first of its renowned resorts in the SW. Chef Sean Sinclair worked with hotel owners Allan Affeldt and Tina Mion (who got their start reviving La Posada in Winslow) to help lovingly restore the bar and dining room of this stately property overlooking the former Atchison Topeka and the Santa Fe rail line.

Step back in time as he and fellow chef John Vollertson (Johnny Vee) demonstrate recipes you will want to add to your repertoire, with historical commentary by bestselling author Stephen Fried.

Proceeds from the cooking class benefit The New Mexico History Museum, which has the nation’s only major permanent exhibit about Fred Harvey, the Harvey Girls, design guru Mary Colter and the ATSF, and annually hosts on the Fred Harvey History Weekend in Santa Fe and Las Vegas–including the Fred Harvey Foodie Dinner.

Here’s the menu, all adapted from classic dishes Fred Harvey chefs served in their restaurants, hotels and dining cars:

Appetizer: Canape Cordova (Johnny Vee will riff on the classic Harvey canape of caviar, smoked salmon and artichoke on toast with chopped olive, onion and egg)

Soup: Bisque of Crab (Sean Sinclair will recreate one of the Harvey kitchens’ most beloved seafood bisques)

Entrée: Chicken Lucrecio (Sean Sinclair will explore the best-known early recipe from La Fonda foodie hero chef Konrad Allgaier, a special-spicy chicken with a gravy made with cumin, garlic, butter and almonds) served with Potatoes Sinclair.

Dessert: Chocolate Puffs with Strawberry Preserves (Johnny Vee will show you how to make the most famous Fred dessert–also known as “Harvey House Chocolate Puffs”—topped with fresh whipped cream)

For further information email fredharveyhistory@gmail.com

>>>>>> Follow this link for registration. <<<<<<

Fred Harvey History Weekend: Nov 12-15, 2020

The Fred Harvey History Weekend logo.

For 10 years the New Mexico History Museum has played host to the series of lectures that are a part of the Fred Harvey History Weekend. This annual event is a chance for “Fred Heads” from all over to converge on Santa Fe an regale themselves in all things Fred Harvey.

This year, the weekend event produced by MightMakesWriteLLC is moving entirely online due the COVID-19 situation we are facing.

The full roster of Harvey related talks, along with the Saturday night Foodie Dinner Demonstration* & Auction to benefit the History Museum programming with accessible with registration. has delved into the history and impact of this popular historic travel brand. This year, the event’s 11th, will be completely online, with streamed lectures, a virtual version of the highlight of the weekend, the Foodie Dinner & Auction to benefit programming at New Mexico History Museum.

For more information on the schedule of events visit:


And to register to for tickets for any of the events, you can visit the event listing on eventbrite.

*The Dinner Demonstration offers an opportunity for you to learn how to prepare a contemporary take on classic Fred Harvey cuisine with top chefs from La Fonda and La Castaneda! You will receive an ingredient list ahead of time.

If you have any questions about the weekend events, please email mightmakeswritellc@gmail.com

Taming the West, One Linen Napkin at a Time

LaFonda_Postcard_72Meet Fred Harvey, Mary Colter, Erna Fergusson and a bevy of Harvey Girls. Setting the Standard: The Fred Harvey Company and Its Legacy (the first major installation to join our main exhibit, Telling New Mexico), gives voice to the ways that New Mexico changed the Harvey Company—and the ways that Harvey changed New Mexico. We chatted with Meredith Davidson, curator of 19th- and 20th-century collections, about how it came to be.

What was your reaction on getting assigned to do this exhibition?

I was thrilled. When I started, I knew only the surface level of Fred Harvey history, but began to see him as a lens that overlaps with almost any topic you can imagine in the Southwest. Now I like to say, “All roads lead to Harvey!”

What did you decide to focus on?

The turning points in the company’s history that were directly related to New Mexico. The Alvarado was an early destination hotel and the company’s western hub. La Fonda (postcard image above) shows the company’s move away from trackside-only locations. Indian Detours were the start of regional tourism. And the Harvey Girls’ genesis happened in Raton.

4-72-Harvey_Ashtray2Where did you go during your research?

Kansas City, Leavenworth, California, and Arizona. I was also lucky to work closely with descendants of the Harvey family here and in Chicago, several of whom lent materials for the exhibit, including a stunning copper gong that once hung in the company’s corporate headquarters. After a winding search, I tracked down the daughter of someone known in the FredHead community for acquiring “all things Harvey.” Her father had passed away in 2010 and everyone wondered what had happened to Skip Gentry’s collection. Well, it is in about every room of his daughter’s home in North California. I spent two full days with her peeking in binders, opening boxes and moving framed pieces. I was ecstatic when she offered to lend us several of the key gems.

`My favorite item in the exhibit is….’

I really can’t pick just one, but I did fall in love with a portrait of an Indian Detours Courier named Amelia McFie. I had met her family in Las Cruces and anticipated holding a place in the exhibit to tell her story, but when I saw the portrait I thought, “She’s so young and well put together!” She helps illustrate how the story of Fred Harvey is not just the large hotels and the intricate systems of high-level hospitality, but the individual lives that were touched and sometimes rerouted by opportunities offered by the company.

4-72-Harvey_HarveyGirlFigurine_ServiceCharmsHow will this exhibit affect the Harvey story?

This is the first long-term exhibit dedicated to the company’s history. I hope it brings a new level of awareness to the topic and shows visitors as well as researchers that there is still so much to learn and so much more to explore—the 1915 World’s Fair in San Diego, the women in the company, the men who married Harvey Girls or worked in the establishments, the management styles that impact today’s hospitality industry, and the clever advertising promoting the Southwest. I hope this exhibit will encourage people to see the New Mexico History Museum, its library and photo archives, as resources for this history and then go out and see the remnants of this history in the Southwest.

Meet Fred Harvey at the New Mexico History Museum


The more one sees of the world…the more he respects Fred Harvey. He is the Great American Caterer.

—William Allen White, 1897

Will Rogers noted that Fred Harvey “kept the West in food—and wives.” But the company’s Harvey Girls are by no means its only legacy. From the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway’s 1879 arrival in New Mexico to the 1970 demolition of Albuquerque’s Alvarado Hotel, the Fred Harvey name and its company’s influence have been felt across New Mexico, not to mention the American West. The company and its New Mexico establishments served as the stage on which people such as Mary Colter fashioned an “authentic” tourist experience through architecture and interior design, while Herman Schweizer helped drive the direction of Native American arts as an industry.

Setting the Standard: The Fred Harvey Company and its Legacy, a new section that joins the New Mexico History Museum’s main exhibit, Telling New Mexico: Stories from Then and Now, tells those stories and more. Opening Sunday, Dec. 7, Setting the Standard uses rarely seen artifacts from the museum’s collection, images from the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives and loans from other museums and private collectors. Focusing on the rise of the Fred Harvey Company as a family business and events that transpired specifically in the Land of Enchantment, the tale will leave visitors with an understanding of how the Harvey experience resonates in our Southwest today. Continue reading

A Mary Colter Weekend, Part III: What Would Mary Do?

One of Mary Colter’s shining achievements was her 1929 redesign of La Fonda on the Plaza. Working with the then-much-younger John Gaw Meem, she oversaw details as large as the fountain in an interior plaza (now La Plazuela Restaurant) and as minute as towel racks and bedspreads.

Edward Kemp photo of La Fonda, 1929. Palace of the Governors Photo Archives #046955.

Edward Kemp photo of La Fonda, 1929. Palace of the Governors Photo Archives #046955.

Records show some type of inn standing at the southeast corner of the Santa Fe Plaza since 1610, but its many morphings continued across migrations of Spanish colonists, Santa Fe Trail riders, East Coast railroad tourists and today’s international mix of travelers. The version of La Fonda that Colter and Meem inherited had been in the hands of Rapp Rapp & Henderson who had expanded its footprint but left what Colter called a “dark, dreary and gruesome” interior.

The hotel, now owned the Ballen family, hired Santa Fe architect Barbara Felix in 2007 to inventory what was there and redesign the restaurant, then famous in part for tripping up customers with its unruly floors.

Fueled by an interest in restoring Colter’s complete vision — including that charming onetime open-air interior plaza — Felix said, “I naively asked, ‘Could we just get rid of the restaurant and return the courtyard to a courtyard?'” (The audience at her Saturday lecture during A Mary Colter Weekend, co-sponsored by the New Mexico History Museum and La Fonda on the Plaza, likely laughed just as hard as her bosses did at the time.)

Felix offered participants an overview of her efforts to forensically find the remnants of Colter’s design and modern-day them into a new vision. Down in storage, she found one remaining chaise longue, several blanket boxes and headboards that held a tale. Purchased for a Florida mansion from an antiques dealer in Spain, they were nearly destroyed in a hurricane during their overseas journey and later auctioned off to a sharp-eyed Colter.

Working with Colter’s correspondence with Meem, old photographs and whatever other documents she could find, Felix pieced together a few facts. Among them: The beloved painted window panes found throughout the hotel were not a Colter touch at all, but something added in the 1980s.

PaintedWindows“They’ve become such a beloved icon of Santa Fe that we didn’t want to remove them,” Felix said. “And frankly, I think I would have gotten lynched if I had.”

(The windows were created not by a local artist but by a La Fonda employee, Ernest Martinez, who only recently retired at 80-some-years-old. Throughout the hotel, you’ll spy his whimsical Native American motifs and flora and fauna along corridor walls, on guest room furniture and even in the hotel’s parking garage. Felix assured Mary Colter Weekend participants that he painted a few extra window panes before retiring “because, as we all know, glass breaks.”)

Determined to restore the restaurant’s fountain, Felix did her best to find tiles she considered appropriate, order them, wait for delivery and prepare for restoration to begin. The surprise came when workmen began removing the flagstone floor that had long covered the spot. Underneath it, they found the shattered remnants of the original fountain.

“They had literally back-filled it into itself,” she said.

Too late to reconsider her tile choices, she went ahead with her plan, but held onto a shard of Colter’s tile as a memento.

restaurant Though sheltered with a sturdy roof, La Plazuela today carries the feel of an open-air plaza (not to mention some of the tastiest meals in downtown Santa Fe).

Throughout her work, Felix said she kept in mind one of Colter’s aims: to be tactile. “She wants you to touch the railings, the walls,” she said.

Felix worked with local artists and artisans, including Steve Dulfer, Klaus Messerer, Gunther Worrlein, Ward Brinigin, Mark Knutsen and Vivian Nichols.

Walk around La Fonda today, and the combined spirit of their efforts and those of artisans over the decades is evident in…


…charming light fixtures…




…walls filled with handmade tiles.

As part of the Mary Colter Weekend, La Fonda compiled a guide to the architectural-historical highlights of its interior — the onetime carriage house that’s now a parking garage; Colter’s last architectural assignment, a cantinita that’s now the French Pastry Shop; original paintings by Gerald Cassidy; and the classic Colter masterpiece of the Santa Fe Room.

CheckingOutHotelOne of the joys of the weekend was watching participants wander through the hotel, the guide in hand, checking out the glories.

Our humble blog posts barely skim the surface of what we covered during A Mary Colter Weekend. If you’re interested in more, there are no better places to start than with the books by two of our speakers: Arnold Berke’s Mary Colter: Architect of the Southwest; and Stephen Fried’s Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built an Empire that Civilized the West.

In concluding her lecture, Felix asked whether Colter was still relevant. She cited Colter’s knowledge about how materials and culture work together, how she set the standard for National Park system architecture, and about her timeless sense of design. In a haunting question that she left participants to answer, Felix asked:

Are we building structures today that will still be relevant, let along standing, in 100 years?

A Mary Colter Weekend, Part II

Noted Southwestern author Frank Waters once referred to Mary Colter as having “a tender heart and a caustic tongue.” She could write the sweetest notes to the child of her onetime mentee, and scathing ones to architect John Gaw Meem, with whom she worked on La Fonda. (In one of the notes, she asked him precisely where he thought he might end up when he died.)

BerkeBookThose were among the tidbits of a grand life shared this morning by Arnold Berke, the biographer of Mary Colter (Mary Colter: Architect of the Southwest) at this morning’s continuation of A Mary Colter Weekend. During his research, he found few blueprints, which aren’t built for survival to begin with; few original documents revealing anything of her love life (if any); and, as the years pass, fewer and fewer examples of her iconic architecture and designer’s eye.

Those were signs, he said, of a woman who was not appreciated in her own time, nor after her own time. That’s all the more sad when you consider she was alive at the same time as Frank Lloyd Wright and Julia Morgan, William Randolph Heart’s architect. (And no, Berke said, he found no evidence that Colter ever met either of them. And yes, he’s asked that question every time he speaks.)

ArnoldSpeakingWebSizeOnly in recent years, Berke said, has interest in Colter risen, particularly among Grand Canyon aficionados. Colter’s buildings along the South Rim and Phantom Ranch at the canyon’s bottom pioneered a style of architecture now used by most national and state parks. It’s called National Park Service Rustic, and Colter was, Berke said, “truly a pioneer of this idiom.”

A master builder as well designer, Colter married rock, tile, timber, glass, and wrought iron, employed a keen eye for talent in hiring artists like a young Fred Kabotie, and brewed up buildings that grew out of rock ledges, or simply appeared on a forest floor, complete and natural, as if they had always been there. Take a gander at two strikingly different models. The Pueblo-meets-Spanish style of La Fonda on the Plaza’s softly stuccoed and stacked curves (Philosopher Simone de Beauvoir once called  La Fonda”The most beautiful hotel in America, perhaps the most beautiful hotel I’ve seen in my life.”):

La Fonda, Santa fe

La Fonda, Santa fe

And the seemingly haphazard collection of rocks that make up the very stable Hermit’s Rest at the Grand Canyon:

Hermit's Rest, Grand Canyon

Nothing about Colter’s designs was haphazard, Berke said. First-time visitors to her buildings would appreciate seemingly antique furniture that craftsmen had just built, along with soot marking the walls above brand-new fireplaces. “You can’t imagine how difficult it was to make that look old,” she once said.

She designed the interiors of Kansas City’s, Chicago’s and Los Angeles’ Union Stations and created the Mimbres-influenced dishes once used on the Santa Fe Railway and now sold for hundreds of dollars per teacup. She did so at a time when women were not architects, or if they were, they didn’t climb rock monuments to study their composition. Berke said her success was likely due to a combination of nature and nurture — a naturally strong-willed person with an artistic bent, she was raised in the heartland of America at a time when “going West” was the place to go.

By the time she died in 1958, Colter had seen her time come and go. El Ortiz in Lamy, NM, was torn down in 1943. El Navajo in Gallup was destroyed in 1957, along with the monumental sand paintings Colter had persuaded Navajo artisans to create. She outlived Albuquerque’s Alvarado, but only barely. Torn down in 1970, it’s still mourned by lovers of architecture.

The resurgence of interest in her inspired Berke to propose what some might consider a fool’s quest. He referenced the exquisite collection of Native jewelry she had amassed and eventually bequeathed to Mesa Verde Museum, where most of it, like most museum collections, is in storage. Maybe, he said, some enterprising museum type could work out a loan and put the jewelry on exhibit?

To the hearty applause of Berke’s audience, New Mexico History Museum Director Fran Levine said that, yes, she would be that person.

A Mary Colter Weekend, Part I

What could inspire some 150 people to travel from Arizona, Pennsylvania and other parts to Santa Fe? Well, plenty of things, when you think about. Mountains, art, great food, a unique mix of cultures. But this weekend, for these particular 150-some people, it was the memory of Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter.

An 1893 portrait of Mary Jane Colter by Arthur Mathews,  one of her professors. Photo by Tom Alexander, courtesy of the Pioneer Museum, Flagstaff, and the Arizona Historical Society.

An 1893 portrait of Mary Jane Colter by Arthur Mathews, one of her professors. Photo by Tom Alexander, courtesy of the Pioneer Museum, Flagstaff, and the Arizona Historical Society.

Starting Friday evening and continuing through Saturday, experts on the life and times of the Fred Harvey Co.’s “starchitect” are rubbing shoulders and ideas with railroad buffs, fans of history and an admirably large number of Harvey family members.

The event is co-sponsored by the New Mexico History Museum and La Fonda on the Plaza, one of the hotels where Colter left her design mark — along the way developing a version of Southwest style that lives today. The event is a fund-raiser for the History Museum, and we’re gratified to say, we’re sold out.

We began with a reception in the New Mexico room of La Fonda, where margaritas, tortillas and guacamole held court and folks started getting acquainted. A few glimpses:




Beyond food and conversation, we took note of the exquisite architectural details, like this eagle carved into a viga:


And this ceiling lamp:


Our generous sponsors then retired to the Santa Fe Room — the one room in La Fonda that retains about 90 percent of Colter’s original arts-and-crafts-meets-Native-American style — for dinner. Architect Barbara Felix delivered an amuse bouche of what participants will learn when our speakers hold court on Saturday. A Santa Fe architect, Felix oversaw the renovation of La Fonda’s restaurant, La Plazuela, taking care to restore what she could of Colter’s original intent for a room that, in her time, was an open-air plaza.

fireplaceAmong the difficulties that Felix encountered was the discovery that not all of Colter’s efforts were as solid and lasting as the sculpted terra-cotta mantels of German artist Arnold Ronnebeck, from whom she commissioned several pieces still inside the hotel.

Instead, some were piled in a storage room, where more than a few La Fonda honchos think they should stay. Not quite as well-made, they nevertheless held the charm of hand-crafted items, like the hanging lamp with hand-painted glass panels and an iron ashtray shaped like an antelope.

“It’s a little crude,” Felix said of the lamp. “It’s a little whimsical. It’s a little folk-arty.”


And then there was…this metal palm tree to the right of Felix.

Before the event, as a worker wheeled it into the banquet room, one hotel employee sighed in apparent disappointment. But for those of us who troll eBay and Craigslist, it was a find like no other.

Kind of like Mary Colter.

Starting at 10:30 am Saturday, we’ll learn more about her many legacies, which include the magical buildings along the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch at its bottom, and the onetime grand interior of Los Angeles’ Union Station. Speakers include Colter biographer Arnold Berke; Harvey biographer Stephen Fried; and Felix.

We’ll keep you posted with updates throughout the day. If you can’t attend, don’t despair. In honor of the event, we added items from the Fred Harvey legacy to our display in the museum’s Mezzanine level, including a Collier magazine ad urging readers “Let’s eat with the Harvey boys”; a meal ticket; and a poster of the Harvey Co.’s Indian detours.

We hope you’ll come visit.

Mary Jane Colter’s Legacy of Southwestern Style

An 1893 portrait of Mary Jane Colter by Arthur Mathews,  one of her professors. Photo by Tom Alexander, courtesy of the Pioneer Museum, Flagstaff, and the Arizona Historical Society.

An 1893 portrait of Mary Jane Colter by Arthur Mathews, one of her professors. Photo by Tom Alexander, courtesy of the Pioneer Museum, Flagstaff, and the Arizona Historical Society.

In 1910, a young architect named Mary Jane Colter was hired by the Fred Harvey Co. and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Over the decades that followed, she created some of the most iconic buildings along the railway and at the Grand Canyon.

Today, 11 of her buildings are on the National Registry of Historic Places; five are designated National Historic Landmarks. A maverick and a visionary, she broke with European architectural tradition, blending Mission Revival, Spanish Colonial and Native American elements. She embraced the Arts & Crafts Movement’s simple but sophisticated designs and exquisite craftsmanship. She methodically researched indigenous art, architecture and building techniques. As one writer observed: “She could teach masons how to lay adobe bricks, plasterers how to mix washes, and carpenters how to fix viga joints.”

On April 1 and 2, the New Mexico History Museum joins with La Fonda on the Plaza — itself housed in a building she elevated with her interior designs — to explore Colter’s life and legacy. “A Mary Jane Colter Weekend: The Shaping of Southwest Style” is an exclusive event featuring lectures by noted experts and special dinners prepared by La Fonda’s Executive Chef Lane Warner.

Tickets start at $100 ($50 tax-deductible); $200 for the events plus an April 1 sponsor dinner ($100 tax-deductible). The Museum of New Mexico Foundation is co-hosting the event with La Fonda on the Plaza. Proceeds benefit the New Mexico History Museum. Call 505-988-1234 or log onto www.TicketsSantaFe.org for tickets. Act now: Space is limited.

Once called “the best-known unknown architect in the national parks,” Colter is nearly revered for her buildings at the Grand Canyon, including Phantom Ranch, the Watchtower, and Bright Angel Lodge, among others. In 2008, the magazine of the National Parks Conservation Association published a lovely biography of her. (Find it here.)

The Mary Jane Colter Weekend begins with a wine-and-appetizers reception at La Fonda on the Plaza, one of the most iconic buildings on the Santa Fe Plaza. Sponsor-level participants will then enjoy an exclusive dinner in La Fonda’s Santa Fe Room, an old-world setting that most distinctively captures Colter’s design aesthetic. Large terracotta tiles surround the entry door. A fireplace Colter commissioned by Arnold Ronnebeck promises to keep you warm. Elsewhere, you’ll see a beautiful latilla ceiling and paintings by Gerald Cassidy. You’ll have a chance to meet our weekend’s presenters—Arnold Berke, Stephen Fried and Barbara Felix, and hear Felix speak about what she learned of Colter during her own renovation of La Fonda. (We’ll also have a special bag of goodies for each of our sponsors, including a pair of New Mexico CulturePasses and a book of Harvey House recipes compiled by Stephen Fried.)

On April 2, all participants will take in a series of lectures, a La Fonda dinner and an Actors Studio-style discussion of Colter’s legacy led by Dr. Frances Levine, director of the museum.

“Mary Colter’s vision of the Southwest created a style that was simple and yet grand,” Levine said. “She left a magnificent legacy in regional architecture and interior design that we cherish today as much as in the past.”

South Portal of La Fonda Hotel (1925-45?), designed by Mary Jane Colter. Photo by T. Harmon Parkhurst. Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, No. 054316.

South Portal of La Fonda Hotel (1925-45?), designed by Mary Jane Colter. Photo by T. Harmon Parkhurst. Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, No. 054316.

The weekend’s speakers:

Arnold Berke, award-winning author of Mary Colter: Architect of the Southwest (Princeton Architectural Press), will bring his meticulously researched book to life, revealing Colter in the social and historical context of her time.  “By steeping her buildings in the culture, history, and landscape of the Southwest,” Berke said, “Colter both charmed American travelers and taught them about the region she loved. Her pioneering works delighted the eye and engaged the mind.”

Stephen Fried, author of Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire that Civilized the Wild West, will  present the colorful Harvey House history of La Fonda on the Plaza. “The opportunity to spend a weekend exploring Mary Colter’s contributions to life in the Southwest – as design guru for the Fred Harvey Company – will be a rare treat,” Fried said. “I’m also looking forward to discussing the Harvey family women of that era who were vital supporters of Colter’s pioneering work.”

Santa Fe architect Barbara Felix, who was instrumental in the 2009 renovation of La Plazuela, La Fonda’s dining room, on “Preserving the Architectural Fabric of a Santa Fe Icon.” “Colter’s work has inspired me to be passionate about craftsmanship, the use of natural light, regional materials and the transformation of the ordinary into the magical,” Felix said.

The schedule:

Friday, April 1

6 pm: La Fonda, Welcome reception with hosted wine and light hors d’oeuvres.

7 pm: Santa Fe Room, La Fonda, Sponsor dinner

Saturday, April 2

Breakfast on own

10:30 am: NM History Museum, lecture by author Arnold Berke

Lunch on your own

2 pm: La Fonda, lecture by architect Barbara Felix

4 pm: La Fonda, lecture by Stephen Fried, author

7 pm: La Fonda, dinner and Colter discussion with Frances Levine, Arnold Berke and Stephen Fried

“This will be a wonderful weekend for anyone who has visited any of Mary Jane Colter’s extraordinary buildings or been fascinated by this profoundly talented woman who was so ahead of her time,” says Jennifer Kimball, chairman of the board of La Fonda on the Plaza. “We are so proud to be part of the Mary Jane Colter legacy and to share in the sponsorship of this vibrant weekend with the New Mexico History Museum.”

A limited number of special room rate of $109 a night is available for out-of-town guests. Call (800) 523-5002, ext. 1, or (505) 954-3500.