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Butchie's Drive-In

What was originally called Butchie’s Drive-In is a small restaurant located on Park Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County). Designed in Art Moderne style, the building was constructed in 1952 and added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 2004. Bailey’s Dairy Treat began operations in the building in 1995. An outstanding example of a tourist-focused business that existed in Hot Springs during the mid-twentieth century, it is the only remaining restaurant from the period on Park Avenue.

A number of businesses catering to visitors to Hot Springs appeared along Park Avenue in the 1930s. The roadway led travelers from Little Rock (Pulaski County) into the city, and multiple tourist courts, motels, and restaurants were constructed along Park Avenue until the 1950s. Many people visited the area to bathe in the hot springs in hopes of alleviating medical conditions. The drive-in was a late addition to these businesses before the tourist trade in the city shifted to the south. This shift was related to a decline in visitors to the hot springs due to advances in medical technology, as well as the attraction of lakes that had been created south of the city. Fewer visitors used the businesses along Park Avenue, leading to many of the motels to convert into apartments and many restaurants and other businesses to close.

The building is a single story and faces west. It is fronted by a small parking lot, and customers place their orders at two one-over-one service windows located on the front of the building. A small seating area with picnic tables is located to the north of the building. The flat roof of the building overhangs the sidewalk below on three sides, with radiused corners on the front. An awning is present on the front of the building. Four stationary windows are also present on the front, and a wall-mounted menu is located between the two service windows. While the windows are replacements, they closely match the originals. Neon lights illuminate the building at night.

The interior of the building has changed little since it was constructed. While the kitchen equipment has been replaced over the years, the quarry tile floor is still present in the twenty-first century with a few modern patches, in addition to painted concrete block walls. The bathrooms are original, with tiled floors and walls.

The earliest mention of the business appears in the 1952 Hot Springs phone book. The next year, the building appeared in the city directory. Over the decades, a number of restaurants operated in the building. The name of the first business in the building was Butchie’s Drive-In, leading to its historic name. In 1995, Bailey’s Dairy Treat began operating in the building.

For additional information:
“Butchie’s Drive-In.” National Register for Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Office, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/GA0607.nr.pdf (accessed February 27, 2019).

David Sesser
Henderson State University

Last Updated 2/27/2019

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