Before the arrival of European settlers, native Americans knew of the valley for its collection of natural hot springs, visiting often to enjoy the soothing heat of the mineral waters and European settlers were similarly attracted, once they discovered the area in the late 1600’s.
Ascribing a restorative power to the thermal upwellings, the area soon gained a reputation for its purported healing powers and a shanty town of sorts sprang up in the area well before any official incorporation made the existence of Hot Springs official.
By the early 1800’s, Hot Springs was a known mecca and the first bathhouses were already in place – but they’re not the ones you see today on Hot Springs Bathhouse Row. Those first Hot Springs bathhouses were far more rudimentary than today’s and, even after they were replaced by more permanent buildings, the Civil War came along and tore them – and much of the rest of the town of Hot Springs – right back down.
Today’s Hot Springs Bathhouse Row consists of third and fourth generation versions of the original buildings, all built post-Civil War and along or directly over Hot Springs Creek â€“ and what a wonderful and eclectic collection of historic, turn-of-the-century buildings they are! Neoclassical, renaissance-revival, Spanish, Italianate; classic architectural styles that include formal entrances, outdoor fountains, promenades, and other detailing.
Hot Springs Bathhouse Row and the area around it has been federally protected since 1832, becoming Hot Springs National Park in 1921, and named a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The eight, historic bathhouses are open to the public and make for a fascinating visit, whether you come to study their past, marvel at their classic architecture, enjoy their reputed rejuvenating properties with a dip or, like most folks, a little of all three!
Fordyce Bathhouse, the largest and grandest of the buildings on Hot Springs Bathhouse Row, was extensively restored before being reopened in 1989 as the visitor center and museum for Hot Springs National Park. Lamar Bathhouse serves as the Hot Springs National Park store, Bathhouse Row Emporium, and offices for park employees. The Ozark Bathhouse currently houses the the Ozark Bathhouse Cultural Center.
Maurice Bathhouse and Hale Bathhouse – the latter being the oldest of the eight structures comprising Hot Springs Bathhouse Row – have both been renovated by the National Park Service and are available for lease. Superior Bathhouse was also renovated and is now a brewpub! Be sure to stop in for some delicious Arkansas craft beer!
Of the eight bathhouses on Hot Springs Bathhouse Row, only two are still offering spa services: Buckstaff Bathhouse and Quapaw Bathhouse. Be sure to enjoy a dip in their naturally heated, soothing mineral waters while you’re here.
Hot Springs Bathhouse Row
Hot Springs, AR
For more information be sure to visit the National Park Service Hot Springs Bathhouse Row page.
Hot Springs Bathhouse Row Lodging
Whenever you’re in the Hot Springs area – or any where in Arkansas, for that matter! – do yourself a big favor and choose a locally owned and operated, Arkansas bed and breakfast inn for your accommodations. The combination of hospitality, amenities, and a local’s knowledge of just what to do and see will make your Arkansas getaway that much better!