Fred and Mary: An Unconventional Romance
Sparkling with fire and wit, Fred and Mary re-imagines the relationship between ground-breaking architect Mary Jane Colter and pioneering hotelier Fred Harvey who has been credited with “civilizing” the West. Straddling the border between historical and alternate realities, their story is interwoven with the beauty and culture of the indigenous people of the Southwest.
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Synopsis and Impact
At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th Century, the Southwest was undergoing a transformation. The railroad had pushed into New Mexico and Arizona, and with it came Fred Harvey, the visionary hotelier and restaurateur, called the civilizer of the West. It was the Golden Age of the Railroad. Further north and only a few short months after a Golden Spike was driven into the Utah desert completing the first transcontinental railroad, a girl was born. Her name was Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter. Three decades later, in 1902, the Fred Harvey Company hired Mary to decorate the Alvarado Hotel’s Indian Department in New Mexico. It was a match made in Heaven.
Shortly thereafter, working with Fred Kabotie and other native artists, Mary Colter recognized the Southwest’s first people by introducing indigenous themes in her designs for Hopi House and the Watchtower at the Grand Canyon. Visitors to the Watchtower today, continue to be awed by Mr. Kabotie’s extensive wall paintings and remarkable sand painting, which dominates the central floor.
Decades later, as Fred Harvey’s Chief Architect and Designer, Mary designed her crown jewel: La Posada Hotel and Gardens in Winslow. La Posada is now being beautifully restored by Allan Affeldt, according to Mary Colter’s original design. For Prescott residents, the hotel has become a destination on historic Route 66.
Few people have had as great an impact on Arizona, as Fred Harvey and Mary Jane Colter. In preparation for Arizona’s Centennial Celebration in 2012, award-winning playwright, Micki Shelton, has written a new full-length play titled Fred and Mary: An Unconventional Romance. Filled with humor and historical authenticity, the play brings to life the passion, ingenuity, and the historic significance of these two amazing innovators. Illustrating their legacy throughout the Southwest, it fosters a deep appreciation for the beauty and culture of central and northern Arizona.