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Park Hotel

The Park Hotel is a seven-story hotel located at 211 Fountain Street in downtown Hot Springs (Garland County) near Bathhouse Row. Built by the renowned architectural firm of Thompson, Sanders and Ginocchio, the hotel and restaurant in its lobby are still in operation in the twenty-first century. The Park Hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 22, 1982.

The tan brick building is located at the upper entrance to the Hot Springs National Park Grand Promenade, which is a brick pathway through the wooded hills behind Bathhouse Row. The Park Hotel is about a block northeast of the dining, entertainment, and shopping establishments of the Central Avenue Historic District.

The Park Hotel was completed in 1929 and opened to the public in 1930. It was built during a period of tourism-driven prosperity and growth in Hot Springs. Reflecting a popular architectural style of the 1920s, the Park Hotel incorporates Mission/Spanish Revival influences. The building’s architects were Charles L. Thompson and his partners Frank Ginocchio and Theodore (Theo) Sanders, who led one of the most popular architectural firms in Arkansas in the early 1900s, producing more than 2,000 buildings statewide.

With seven full floors plus a 2,000-square-foot penthouse, the Park Hotel was one of the tallest hotels designed by the firm. It also features finely detailed decorative elements. Covered by a flat roof, the front elevation of the rectangular structure contains a distinct base, middle, and crown.

The entrance wing on the first floor consists of cut stone features, a brass door leading to the hotel lobby, plate-glass elements, and two large windows at the side. Round arch fanlights create an arcade effect. There is a front porch lined with chairs overlooking the adjacent greenspace. The decorative wrought iron balustrade on the veranda reflects the building’s Spanish Revival influences.

Inside the lobby, an original elevator with an elevator operator remains functional, though guests may also use a more modern automated elevator. Other original elements remaining in the hotel include the grand staircase leading up from the lobby.

Harry Truman stayed often in his favorite room at the Park Hotel, No. 401, before becoming president of the United States. In a letter to his wife in 1937, Truman wrote: “Have a beautiful room at the Park Hotel for $3.00 a day, tub and shower, a big fan and everything but a radio and I can live without that I guess. It would cost me at least $4.50 a day for the same thing at the Arlington and I believe it’s cooler.” The other note invited his wife to join him, saying, “Dear Bess … Why don’t you come down here? You can stay at the Park Hotel.”

JoAnn Privitello purchased the hotel in 2005, as well as an adjoining motel (used for employee apartments) and additional lots used for parking. The Park Hotel operates seventy-six guestrooms. On the ground floor of the hotel are the Angels in the Park Italian restaurant and a bookstore that bills itself as The Battlefield: A Civil War Bookshoppe.

For additional information:
Ferrill, Robert H. ed. Dear Bess, The Letters From Harry to Bess Truman 1910–1959. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1983.

“Park Hotel.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/GA0071.nr.pdf (accessed September 16, 2015).

Park Hotel Hot Springs. http://www.parkhotelhotsprings.com/index.html (accessed September 16, 2015).

Nancy Hendricks
Garland County Historical Society

Last Updated 9/17/2015

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