Mary Colter (1869-1958) was an industrial arts teacher in St. Paul, Minn. who received a degree from the California School of Design. She was a proponent and member of the Arts and Crafts Movement. In 1902, she was recruited by Herman Schweizer to design a museum space in the Indian Department at The Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque. This initial contract began a fruitful business relationship. She went on to become the principal designer for the Fred Harvey Company.
Mary Colter's work reflects the beauty she saw in the Southwest and its people. For her last project, she redesigned the exterior and interior of Painted Desert Inn at the Petrified Forest National Park, Ariz. Colter developed a vision that was imprinted on every detail of each project. She had very high expectations of herself and those who worked for her. It is said that part of the Desert View Watchtower was constructed during her absence, and upon her return she had the workmen dismantle the structure because they had not adhered to the design that Colter had provided.