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Jackson Lake Lodge Modern 1950's Architecture


Jackson Lake Lodge Lobby




The contributions of John D. Rockefeller to Jackson Hole continued long after the final park was formed in 1950.  Post World War II saw an increase visitation to national parks and the deteriorated and limited accommodations in Grand Teton National Park.  Mr. Rockefeller knew the importance of providing fine accommodations and commissioned architect, Gilbert Stanley Underwood to design and construct Jackson Lake Lodge.  Rockefeller insisted, the purpose of the new hotel was to make the wonders of the Tetons accessible to the people of the United States, not to construct resort-style accommodations in the national park.  The construction of Jackson Lake Lodge tested the National Park Service unofficially implemented rustic design criteria through the 1920s and 1930s, as the most fitting and suitable type of construction in a scenic setting.  By reinterpreting traditional rustic elements in a modern framework, Gilbert Stanley Underwood opened the door for modernism in the national parks. 

The decorative theme for the Jackson Lake Lodge interior was on a fur trapper theme, focusing attention on the period between 1810 and 1840.  The guest rooms were approached in a slightly different manner departing from the fur tapper theme and were designed to provide a unique, interesting, regional “antique” type attraction to guests.  As a result the guest rooms and cabins were furnished in an assortment of Western and modern elements, featuring Native American design and western-themed components that were complimented with modern tiled baths and utilities.   Jackson Lake Lodge is unique in that it brings together the “luxuriously primitive” design of the architect and the sleek 1950’s modernism. 

As New York Times columnist Jack Goodman reported early on, “As a non-practicing aesthete, this reporter can say that the interior décor seems an elegant, artful blend of comfortable modern with western.  There is not a bearskin rug in place … but no rustic artifacts are needed in a lodge where picture windows and admirably situated terraces permit the view of Jackson Lake and the pinnacles of the Grand Tetons and Mount Moran.”

As stated by the authors of our National Historic Landmark nomination, Jackson Lake Lodge was a “predominantly International style Hotel” that indicated a break from the rustic national park concession hotels of the 1920s and is a fine example of the modern architectural styling of the 1950s.

As a National Historic Landmark designation, painstaking detail and care was needed during our recent renovation to accurately maintain the original modern architectural styling of the 1950's. When looking forward to relaxing in a bygone era, take time to experience our artful blend of comfortable modern with western decor. 

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