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The Tall Pines Motor Inn Historic District is a well-maintained example of the Rustic architectural style of roadside lodging that has been popular in rural areas since the earliest days of travel by car. Located at the intersection of Highway 62 and Pivot Rock Road one mile west of Eureka Springs (Carroll County), it has operated continuously since 1947 under various names, including the Tall Pines Court, Tall Pines Motel, Tall Pines Motor Lodge, Tall Pines Motor Inn, and Tall Pines Inn. Its seven original log structures were added to the National Register of Historic Places as the Tall Pines Motor Inn Historic District on January 15, 1999.
In the early part of the twentieth century, nostalgia for a simpler time and a desire to return to nature led American travelers out of cities to drive along ever-improving roads into the countryside and small towns. Eureka Springs was among the places benefiting from, and encouraging, this movement, a dynamic that continues into the twenty-first century. The log cabin is an easily recognized symbol of times past, and, as a motel form, it also implies a fair price for a night’s stay. By naming the Tall Pines after trees, the original owners effectively combined the nostalgic image of a log cabin with that of a cool, shaded place in the forest (in the days before air-conditioning was common). Understandably, all of the subsequent owners have kept the Tall Pines name.
Philip and Alice Nordquist—along with their daughter, Edna, and granddaughter Donna Ann—moved from Chicago, Illinois, and built the Tall Pines Court in 1947. Philip was seventy years old at the time, and Alice was fifty-eight. They built six rental cabins in a quarter-circle facing the owners’ residences across green space. Their homes originally consisted of two structures connected by a covered breezeway; Alice and Philip lived in one side, and Edna and Donna Ann lived in the other. The breezeway was enclosed in the 1950s, and this structure now operates as three rental units.
Each of the six original cabins and the owners’ residences were constructed of round pine logs with saddle-notched corners, chinked with concrete and built on concrete foundations. Later owners added porches to these and built additional rental units, all in a style in concert with the original log construction. Over the years, the Tall Pines has grown to fourteen structures housing a total of twenty-one rental units. Only the six original cabins and two built in the 1950s operate as single rental units, each with its own bathroom. The structures on the National Register still have their original porch lights of glass behind metal cut-out evergreens.
Roadside lodgings like the Tall Pines face the unique challenge of evoking America’s past while also offering guests modern conveniences. The Tall Pines Inn’s website describes it as a “nostalgic inn” with “historic log cabins and cottages” and also lists among its amenities Jacuzzi suites, a heated pool, Wi-Fi, cable and flat-screen televisions, coffee makers, daily housekeeping service, air conditioning, and gas log fireplaces in selected cabins.
Carmen and Robert Caldwell, the twenty-first-century owners of the Tall Pines Inn, continue the list of couples who honeymooned there and have returned for their fiftieth and even sixtieth anniversaries. Guests can request one of the historic cabins and see photographs of the Tall Pines during its construction, including the installation of its original (but no longer extant) “Tall Pines Modern Court” neon sign.
For additional information:Balasco, Warren James. Americans on the Road: From Autocamp to Motel, 1910–1945. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979.
McLaren, Christie. “Arkansas Highway History and Architecture, 1910–1965.” Little Rock: Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 1999. http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/News-and-Events/publications (accessed May 4, 2016).
McNeal, David. “Tall Pines Celebrates 50th.” Eureka Springs Times-Echo, March 20, 1997, p. 3A.
Tall Pines Inn. http://tallpinesinn.com/ (accessed July 12, 2013).
“Tall Pines Motor Inn.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/CR2039.nr.pdf (accessed June 9, 2015).
Jill CurranLittle Rock, Arkansas
Last Updated 5/4/2016
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