For a River Heritage Museum at Grand Canyon National Park

Laundry Building

Grand Canyon’s South Rim Village became the cultural center of the park shortly after the Santa Fe Railroad reached the rim in 1901. The Fred Harvey Company, working hand in hand with the railroad, soon began developing the village for tourism, building a series of iconic hotels and tourist facilities.

The Laundry Building was constructed in 1926 to provide commercial laundry services for the El Tovar Hotel. Its location, just across the tracks from the Bright Angel Lodge and a mere hundred yards from the Canyon’s rim was a convenient location for the facility, and remains an ideal and eye-catching site for visitation by rim visitors today.

Opened for use in 1927, the Laundry Building was built roughly the same time as the Santa Fe Power House to the east. Both buildings were designed in the same Rustic Swiss Chalet architectural vocabulary with cyclopean stone walls, brown-painted wood trim, shallow-pitched gable roofs and steel industrial sash. The east wall of the Laundry Building was intentionally left unfinished apparently in anticipation of a future addition. The Laundry Building ceased to function as a commercial laundry and has been used henceforward as a storage facility. At various points non-contributing additions were constructed around the perimeter of the building.

The Laundry Building is a contributor to the World Heritage, National Register and National Historic Landmark districts.

The current vision for creating the Grand Canyon River Heritage Museum involves removing the later non-contributing additions, restoring damaged and missing features to match existing ones, and focusing new construction on the ‘unfinished’ east side of the building. The finished product would not only be an ideal venue for displaying and interpreting Grand Canyon’s river heritage, but would continue to celebrate the cultural, historical, and architectural development of the park. Check out the project’s Feasibility Study here.

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